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An Alternative to Spanking: Questions to Consider First

January 11, 2019, Author: Tamra Cater

In my previous post, I discussed how spanking has been found to be ineffective in changing behaviors, so I wanted to offer an alternative to spanking. The book entitled No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Seigel, M.D., and Tine Payne Bryson, Ph.D offers an excellent description of an alternative to spanking. So, I will be making several posts on the topic, but first, I will start with some questions that should be asked as a parent before responding to misbehavior.

Questions to Consider Before Responding

As a parent, do you feel as if you are immediately reacting to your child when they misbehave? And then your reaction might involve giving out some punishment right away? Rather than doing this, consider the questions posed in this post. In future posts, I will be discussing strategies that can be used after these questions are considered. This game plan of strategies will help strengthen the relationship between you and your child. In addition, the child also builds skills that they can be used in the future to help them handle stressful situations. An added benefit is that it helps develop the parts of their brain that deal with logic and other aspects of higher level thinking (logic, problem solving, regulating emotions).

Why is the Behavior Occurring?

First of all, it’s about understanding why the behavior is occurring. Is my child having a tantrum because he or she is hungry or tired? Is there something that is overwhelming and hard to handle at the moment? It’s also important to consider the age of a child. Is the child at an age where they can’t regulate their emotions? I do ask these questions when my child misbehaves- Is she very tried? Does she not feel good? As an example, my daughter sometimes becomes upset when we can’t understand what she is saying. For example, recently, she said what sounded like “Pete,” so I thought that meant she wanted to read her Pete the Cat book. I thoughtfully pulled the book off the self, and her response was a resounding “No!!!!!” I finally figured out that she really meant, “Paint.” So, one way for us to solve this problem is to work on communication skills and pronouncing words correctly to help reduce future tantrums and frustration. This main question of understanding “the why” helps direct you to solutions and questions to ask the child.

What lesson do I want to teach and how do I want to teach it?

Consider the lesson you want to teach and how it should be taught. For example, if my daughter slapped me, what do I want to teach her about hitting and how best should I teach it? Again, this is more about discipline and teaching children skills that can be used in the future.

Once these questions are answered first, we can respond to our children in a more productive way that helps teach them useful skills. I will focus on strategies for responding to misbehavior in my next post.

And remember…. Sometimes this process involves trial and error by figuring out what works for your child. So, hang in there parents! We got this!!

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