The idea behind parental discipline is to ultimately create self-discipline within your child. That means the kid has to learn something — your value system and the difference between right and wrong — that will guide him or her throughout life.
So what do kids learn from being spanked? The hitting itself doesn’t teach them anything. Whether you believe in physical punishment or not, Dr. Phil has some disciplining tips and alternatives to spanking:
- Don’t take out your frustrations while spanking. Ask yourself if the spanking is truly warranted because of the child’s behavior, or whether it’s an excuse for you to have an adult temper tantrum? Are you more prone to spank when you are in a bad mood?
- There needs to be a sense of calmness and order in the house. If you are spanking your kid for being physical and chaotic, aren’t you adding to the physical chaos by being physical and violent with your child? What are you teaching them?
- Make a commitment to your child’s discipline. You have to do what you say you’re going to do. Consequences should be highly predictable for your child.
- Define your child’s currency. What does he/she value? You can withdraw a positive (take away a favorite toy) or introduce a negative (giving a time-out) event — but be consistent.
- Develop a child-level logic. For example, kids know that you are less likely to discipline them in public, so that’s where they’ll act out.
- When you have a confrontation with your kid — don’t ever lose! They will miss out on the opportunity to learn an important lesson if you cave in and let them get away with a behavior that is unacceptable.
- Two things you should NEVER say to your child if you want him/her to behave are: “I’ll give you something to cry about,” and “Wait until your father gets home.” Children can see through idle threats and will eventually ignore them. They will also take advantage of the fact that one parent doesn’t want to deal with doling out the discipline and tries to hand it over to the other parent.
- Negotiate a disciplinary plan with your spouse in calm waters. Calm parents make calm children.