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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 July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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