Don't spank or scream: Tips for taming unruly kids

By Cheryl Tierney

Do you ever swat your child on the behind? Let’s hope not. Over the past few decades, numerous studies have concluded that spanking isn’t the best or most effective way to discipline a child successfully.

But when your kids misbehave, don’t replace spanking with yelling. New research shows that screaming loudly at children may also harm them. So what can parents do when their kids become unruly, especially with the summer vacation months upon us and children spending more time at home?

Tactics that don’t work

According to one large study, 63 percent of American parents admitted they had used verbal aggression -- including swearing and insults -- against their children at least once.

But yelling and spanking are both ineffective because children learn to ignore them after a while. Instead of making children responsible for their actions, physical or verbal abuse simply increases their feelings of aggression.

Parents often complain that they "have to yell" for their listen to them. If you feel that way, it might be that your child isn’t sensing the difference between the happy, proud parent and the upset version until you bring it up a notch. Catch your children being good and constantly comment on it during the day (called "time in") is a great way to help children learn what you expect of them and lets them know you notice their good behavior.

When a child acts out for attention that is generally a sign of not enough "time in." Children say to themselves, "Why behave anyway? My parents don’t usually notice. They just notice when I step out of line."

Negative attention is attention and its better than nothing. So don’t let that happen, provide plenty of praise for background good behavior and you will notice it will take a lot less yelling to have your children listen to you the first time.

Spanking isn’t just unproductive. It may also lead youngsters to assume that it’s OK to hit other children. And spanking has been shown to have lasting effects. Adults who were physically disciplined as children are more likely to hit their spouse and their children, and to take part in crime and violence.

Likewise, emerging research shows that the children who are screamed at the most when they step out of line are at higher risk for depression, irritability, anger and hostility.

Here are alternatives

So if yelling and spanking are unacceptable, how can stressed-out parents teach their children to behave the right way?

-- Set rules in your home for all members of the family, such as no hitting, shouting, name calling, cursing, or ridiculing. Be firm about the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

-- Reward good behavior and create clear consequences for bad behavior. If children fail to comply, don’t automatically spank or yell. Instead, respond gently and follow through with the punishment.

-- If you lose your cool, stop, leave the room or count to 10. Then speak with your child after you have calmed down.

-- Remember that children mimic you. If you want youngsters to behave respectfully, you must behave respectfully -- even if you feel a meltdown coming on.

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dogbert
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 10, 2011
Sometimes a child insists on a spanking. Both the parent and the child can be spared considerable distress if the parent just gives the child what he/she demands.

Spanking can be a part of the tools used to discipline a child without causing aggression. Spanking should be an infrequent intervention when other interventions fail.
kevinrtrs
2.4 / 5 (7) Jun 12, 2011
The advice about giving attention and praise to kids when they're behaving properly is a very sound one and I think it should be adopted across the board.
However, when the researchers then launch into the following
Adults who were physically disciplined as children are more likely to hit their spouse and their children, and to take part in crime and violence
they are simply plucking rabbits out of a hat. The statement is couched in such a way as to discredit a certain proverbial statement, namely "spare the rod, spoil the child". It isn't qualified to distinguish between those homes where abuse occurs and those where normal discipline happens. It simply wants to cover both under the same blanket, thereby making the Christian admonishment look evil. Perhaps, it's because that advice is ignored and actually shunned that there's so much disrespect and even murders in schools today. There surely comes a time when a child goes beyond wanting attention and becomes willfull.
PJS
3 / 5 (2) Jun 12, 2011
Spanking can be a part of the tools used to discipline a child without causing aggression. Spanking should be an infrequent intervention when other interventions fail.

The 1930's called, they want their parenting skills back. Spanking is completely pointless. All it does is instill fear, resentment, and anger into children. Spanking is a manifestation of your own anger, not a tool. Hitting is a reaction, like a monkey would do, when experiencing anger that it knows no other outlet for -- it has zero value for positive behavioral modification. If you can think of no other method for discipline other than spanking, even as a last resort, you have failed completely as a parent, and a human.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 12, 2011
Spanking is a manifestation of your own anger, not a tool. Hitting is a reaction, like a monkey would do, when experiencing anger that it knows no other outlet for -- it has zero value for positive behavioral modification.


Obviously, you would strike a child in anger.

Discipline, regardless of the type of discipline, should never be done in anger.
patnclaire
5 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2011
-- Set rules in your home for all members of the family, such as no hitting, shouting, name calling, cursing, or ridiculing. Be firm about the boundaries of acceptable behavior.
What about letting the punishment fit the deed (not crime. Modern society criminalizes too much behavior)? That sends a better message that constant Time Out for mouthy, spoiled kids. We cant always foresee what form the unacceptable behavior will take. Stupid, idiotic Zero Tolerance policies rob us of our free agency to react to some circumstances and not all. Recall President Kennedys selective reaction to mixed Soviet messages to cool down the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I spanked my 3 sons for well defined breeches of acceptable behavior such as disrespect to their mother, and other authority figures. Breeches of safe behavior into dangerous actions might warrant a swat such as running out into traffic after being told not to, or pushing a child off a swing or slide just because.
None are on drugs. None
FrankHerbert
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2011
Spanking is a manifestation of your own anger, not a tool. Hitting is a reaction, like a monkey would do, when experiencing anger that it knows no other outlet for -- it has zero value for positive behavioral modification.


Obviously, you would strike a child in anger.

Discipline, regardless of the type of discipline, should never be done in anger.


Typical racist: "I'm not racist but..."

Dogbert: "I'm not angry but..."
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2011
No Frank.

No one should discipline a child in anger. You are wrong.

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