I am not afraid to say that my children are very well behaved. Oh sure, they make mistakes. They do things they shouldn't. Most of the time, however, they are very respectful and very obedient. They behave well at home, school, church, and wherever else they go.
And we don't spank.
Not at all.
Neither my husband nor I grew up with parents who spanked, so it isn't something that comes to us naturally. One day when Brayden was a young toddler, he did something he shouldn't and I though I would try spanking. He immediately slapped me back. I kind of laughed and said, "Let's not hit each other again."
My husband and I talked about spanking for the first time that evening. We decided to keep spanking out of our parenting toolbox. I would describe myself as neutral when it comes to spanking. I don't find it necessary and so we don't do it. I am not one to go around declaring there is one right way to parent, either, so if spanking is your thing, this post isn't for you (although this post will provide a lot of helpful discipline advice...so I guess it is for you anyway). If you want to discipline without spanking, though, please read on.
Before you think to yourself, "That's nice, but they must have just had easy children if they have been able to not spank."
Oh no. No, no. I assure you I have one of the most strong-willed children out there. She has pushed me and stretched me in ways I never thought possible. To put it mildly, it has been a challenge at times. We have still been able to maintain no spanking. Despite her strong-willed nature and desire to test limits, she has never had anything but glowing reports from her teachers.
So how do we do it?
Have Clear Expectations
If you want a child to obey and follow the rules, you need to have clear expectations and rules. That means that you need to know what you are okay with and what you aren't. Do you want your child to come when called? Then explain that. Teach what you expect and what it looks like to fulfill that expectations. You have to have the expectations and also teach what those are and what they look like.
You need to be consistent in your expectations and in your consequences for breaking those rules. You can't allow something one day and then flip out the next day when the same thing is done. That makes no sense to a child. Children are excellent observers and scientists. They know how to test things out to see what is okay in life and what isn't. If you flip flop, you can't expect them to be straight and narrow.
Have Consequences (find the currency)
If a rule is broken, there needs to be a consequence. Everyone has a currency. For some, it is easy to find the currency. Use what works for that child. Loss of privileged, time-out, extra chores...find what is meaningful to your child and stick with it. I am a big believer in logical consequences. Here are some posts to help you sort that all out:
Point Out the Good
People just respond better to pointing out what they are doing right than what they are doing wrong. As much as possible, thank your child for making wise choices. You can also use sticker charts and reward systems if you are in need of some strong discipline work.
Do Not Allow Too Many Freedoms
When your child has more freedom than she can responsibly handle, you run into a "too many freedoms" or "wise in your own eyes" situation. This is also commonly referred to as "too big for your britches." Allowing too many freedoms sets your child up to disobey you. Part of disciplining with out spanking is setting your child up for success.
If you remain calm when correcting your child, you have a much higher chance of your child listening to you and obeying with just your verbal instruction. If you find it hard to not yell at your kids, be sure you are covering the basics to help yourself prevent the need to yell.
Have Key Phrases to Turn To
Many of the circumstances children get into that require discipline are similar to each other. I have key phrases I just say whenever a certain type of issue comes up. Child sasses me? "You don't have the freedom to tell me no." Bam. Done. The consistency and calm delivery are both key. Here are my favorite phrases.
Train in Times of Non-Conflict
You will have more success if you are Training in Times of Non-Conflict . It is much harder to teach a child the rules if you wait for the rule to be broken before you talk about it.
I have been in the parenting role long enough to have witnessed time and time again what happens when you allow too much technology. You set your child up for success when you limit technology.
Have a Solid Routine, Good Sleep, Healthy Meals, and Stimulation
Have consistency in your day to day. Make sure your child has a good bedtime and gets enough sleep each day. Feed your child consistently. Make sure your child is able to move and get some physical exercise and provide mental stimulation so your child doesn't get bored.
Prevention is a powerful tool, and you have so much influence and power as a parent. A child who is well rested just behaves better than the same child on too little sleep. This is the most true for my strong-willed child.
I am so keen on prevention that I have written a lot of posts on ways to prevent discipline issues.
The ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all blogging on discipline this week. Check them out on these days: