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Seven Alternatives to Spanking Your Child that Actually Work

Seven Alternatives to Spanking Your Child that Actually Work

Spanking is a controversial subject. Some parents justify it as a form of effective discipline and some parents insist that it teaches children to feel disrespected and that it is okay to disrespect others.

This article is for those who are in the camp that does not believe the short-term effectiveness of spanking is worth the long-term unintended consequences. That is, that the fact the child will not disobey for the time being is not worth risking the child’s sense of self-respect and respect for others, damaging the child’s trust, heightening anxiety levels, teaching the child that it is okay to hit when angry, etc.

Here are seven alternatives to spanking that teach the child the lesson they need to learn, but don’t include the unintended consequences that accompany spanking:

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1. Natural consequences.

If Tommy keeps running away at the supermarket, secretly watch him from a hidden place until he panics that he is lost. If Tommy picked the flowers from the neighbor’s new garden, have him knock on the neighbor’s door and offer to do work to make up for the damages. If Tommy keeps throwing his truck, it is time to simply take the truck away. If Tommy is resisting his bedtime, tell him he can choose his bedtime, but tired or not, he has to get up at 7am with the rest of the family. If Tommy made a huge mess, make it his responsibility to clean it up.

2. Model and teach understanding and respect.

If the problem is disrespect or talking back, etc., then something is going on that spanking will make worse. If Tommy talks back, that’s the opportunity to sternly tell him that is not okay, and then drop the subject. Later, when he is calm, open a dialogue about what Tommy is really angry about, and teach and explain how he might express himself more respectfully.

If Tommy is acting out or having a meltdown, becoming angry will make it worse. Simply give him space and time to calm down without giving in to his demands. When he is calm, explain to him that it is not okay to act that way, but you are perfectly willing to listen to him express himself calmly. This method doesn’t escalate the child’s disrespect and doesn’t reinforce such behavior by providing positive or negative attention. Instead, it models understanding and respectful ways of communication.

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3. Calmly change the environment.

If Tommy keeps trying to jump down the stairs, put a gate on the stairs. If Tommy keeps sneaking cookies, put them in a place where he can’t access them. If Tommy keeps sneaking out of bed, consider a lock on the outside of the bedroom door.

4. Manage your own frustration or anger.

Most of the time when parents spank it is in order to expel their own anger and manage their own powerlessness, not to teach the kids anything. I think all parents have fallen into this trap of punishing a child for their own benefit as opposed to the benefit of the child. In these circumstances, it is good to practice delaying the consequence by walking away from the situation, and telling the child that you need a moment to think of a proper consequence.

5. Meet them where they’re at.

Sometimes, due to developmental factors, well-meaning kids continue to make mistakes. In these situations, it is best to surrender to the fact that the child is not developmentally able to “behave” at this point before providing opportunities to practice underdeveloped skills. Toddlers have limited language abilities, limited impulse control, limited abilities to reason, and limited abilities to control emotional responses. It is developmentally normal for older kids to assert themselves against the rules, to lie, and to have difficulty with frontal-lobe tasks such as planning, judgment, insight, and delaying gratification. Certain kids are more developmentally prone to seeking sensation, taking risks, hyperactivity, unintentional selective listening, difficulty with organization, or behavioral issues.

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Sometimes a kid who keeps tackling other kids is just sensation-seeking; a kid who looks like they are never listening may be legitimately unable to focus; a kid who is irritable and testy may simply be tired or hungry; a kid who is acting out or tuning out may be overstimulated and unable to cope with the noise or visuals around them. In these situations, it makes sense to acknowledge the reality of the child’s capabilities before holding them accountable for making gradual, realistic improvements.

6. Take away something good or add something bad.

If it is impossible to create a “natural consequence” (i.e., Tommy keeps running into the street, and you can’t exactly let him get hit by a car), then adding an arbitrary consequence is sometimes called for. My favorite examples of this type of consequence are removing a toy, removing a privilege, or giving a child chores.

7. Consult with the child.

Remember, the point of parenting is not to just get the child to listen to authority, but is to teach the child to be able to make good choices on his or her own so that he or she will be happy and successful. If a child engages in a certain behavior that is dangerous or inappropriate, ask them why they suppose that would or wouldn’t be a good idea. Ask them for suggestions for alternative behaviors that they could do instead in the future. Encourage the child to begin to think for themselves, but if the child is very young or just has a hard time providing ideas, offer up simple answers. This consultation process can happen whether or not there will be additional consequences or natural consequences to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Sis5769 via mrg.bz

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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