Okay everyone tells you not to do it….. But do they tell you what to do instead?
Don’t smack your kids has been the catch cry for the last 10 years or so however it always amazes me how the media reports this, governments encourage it but no one really says what the alternative is that really works!
There are effective alternatives to smacking, however little time and dollars are then spent on giving parents the tools and strategies to replace smacking. My recommendations involve a combination of several different strategies. There is never any one tool that a parent needs to solve behaviour, there is always in my view a range of tools in your parent toolkit.
Just like the other toolkit, parents need different tools for different behaviours. Time – out is an effective tool if used and this is a big IF, in the right way. Most of us are familiar with the supernanny’s time out and enforced apology - this manner of ‘time out’ I am not a fan. I don’t believe or recommend to parents to force a child to do ‘something’.
Getting your child to behave is a result of them having a good night sleep just to start, followed by setting the scene and teaching them how to behave. Any correction of behaviour is best done later unless it is of course dangerous or hurtful to others. Follow this by lots of praise and attention when the behaviour is to your liking. Ignore any minor behaviours and talk about these later.
If the behaviour is dangerous or hurtful then firstly remove the danger not the child if possible, if not remove your child. For example if the danger is a pair of scissors, simply take the scissors. Then you have the choice of either a counting strategy or the use of a time out strategy. Both these strategies need to be done correctly and you need to be calm when doing these. Using these when you are frustrated or angry will usually guarantee them not working at all.
Time out can be used from a very young age under 12 months and for older kids. This strategy can become a game in itself with some children so beware of this trap. If this happens then you need another strategy. A counting strategy is also used from 2 years of age, when you can explain the concept and they are starting to develop inner self-control.
Also lastly, praise, this is the single most powerful tool in your toolkit and as a parent you need to master this tool and use it widely. By using this tool you can eliminate smacking out of your options altogether and have well behaved and happy children. Ultimately you will be happy parents as well.