I often hear parents say "I don’t want to do what my parents did, I don’t want to inflict physical and emotional harm on my kids, but I want them to understand right and wrong with a different process". What can I do instead of punishment that results in positive outcomes for both parent and child?
Kids start to resent parental authority, become depressed and unhappy and eventually break the bonds with their parents when punishment is damaging and harsh. It breaks down a loving relationship and then parents wonder why their child hardly talks to them. Name calling can cause emotional damage which you cannot see through a bruise – I call these tattoos on the soul and could be even worse than the smack.
Aletha Solter shows us about twenty alternatives to punishment, so will share a few with you to get you started!
Look at the needs of the kid
When you are taking kid out for an appointment, take some toys/book with you, especially when you have to wait in queues in Singapore, how boring for the child! If you are going to be out past meal times, take a snack or sandwich, drinks and fruit. A small cushion so they can fall asleep on the bus/taxi/mrt.
Give Reasons/find alternatives
If the child plays with toys in the middle of the kitchen whilst you are cooking, explain to the child why you need her/him to move into the lounge room or to another place. You are on the phone and your kid is yelling, pause and say "Mummy is on the phone, I need you to stop yelling please, do you understand?" Do this without raising your voice or you will be modeling what you just told her not to do! Better still, before you make a call, ensure your kid has something interesting to focus on. If your child is colouring all over the walls, explain why we use paper and direct child to where you want the activity done.
Your kid messes up the arrangement on the lounge table e.g. flowers – just remove it to a higher place. Continues to blow a whistle whilst you are talking to a guest, observe the toys you put out for her/him to play with when socialising has to take place. Your teens like to put their feet up on the table, get an ottoman instead.
If your child:
– pulls the dog’s tail, show her/him how to pat/stroke her pet instead
– pokes the new baby’s eyes, show your child how to stroke the baby’s arms and kiss baby’s fingers instead.
Provide choices that are not confusing
When you give a kid 8 choices for breakfast, she/her are likely to get confused and say ‘don’t want that’
– "Do you want eggs or muffins for breakfast?"
– "Would you like to shower first or brush teeth?"
– "I have toast or cereal, which one do you want?"
or offer your child 2 choices you know she/he loves.
Before you have a dinner party or guests, seat your child down and chat about the behaviour you would like them to display. Be specific:
– "When Aunty Fay and Uncle Tim come over, I don’t want you running around yelling and screaming."
– "If you need something, come and ask me. Do you understand Jessica?".
Again, tone is important without threats. If your child is upset, take 5 minutes and sit down and work it out together. Listen to your child’s reasons before you pounce yours onto the child. If the child has done something wrong, explain why it is wrong and what behaviour you expect:
– "I didn’t like it when you yelled at me in the bank, I don’t yell at you so I really would like you not to do this again. I prefer that you talk to me."
– "I get annoyed when you leave your towel on the bathroom floor after your shower, I want you to please put it on the towel rack after you finish."
Using ‘I’ messages does not blame the child like ‘you always leave your towel on the floor, I just hate it’ – see the difference? It’s more respectful and more productive to voice what behaviour you do want !
Remove kid from the situation and stay with the child, holding the child lovingly until it dies down, or if he/she hits out, stay close so they don’t injure themselves e.g. child is on the floor of the supermarket crying/yelling, stay close to child without chatting until she has stopped. Then pick up child in a close hug. Use the time to listen, share feelings quietly after the yelling has stopped. The whole market does not need to hear you chat with her.
One of my own here: An anger pillow. If the child needs to express anger, I had a bright yellow cover on this pillow on a bean bag and they could go to their room and give the pillow a good punch until they felt better ! This worked well with my sons who could gage their anger rising and they would rush to their rooms, punch the big pillow, come back and say "I’m read to talk about it now".
Review your high expectations
Wanting kids to sit quietly for too long is a good example of high expectation (I still can’t do it! LOL), waiting in a que for 20 min is too long if they have nothing to do, wanting their rooms to always be perfect, wanting them to get high grades in school ALL THE TIME, seeking perfection when we know it does not exist, yet expecting it from our kids. Accept and love your kid/s for who they are and don’t keep waiting for them to become something that even you find hard to become!
No! Not for the kid – for you!!
Remove yourself from the situation, call a friend, take a bath, ask dad to take over for 20 minutes, deal with it later, child care for half a day so you can rest if your sleep deprived or ask a friend relative to babysit. Delay a chat with your teen if you are too angry, it will come out all wrong!
Consequences… Stop nagging!
Kid forgets his umbrella, comes home wet. Kid has learned something from the experience, next day your kid is more likely to say "I better take my umbrella to school today". If your kid doesn’t, guess what? He’s going to get wet again!
When we use too much of control we don’t allow them to make their own mistakes and learn from them, the way we do. Forgot your homework? Teacher will provide consequences!
You have provided a gentle reminder, a clean space for working, a reminder board etc so you’ve set your child up to succeed. If unsure about nagging? Just think, if I don’t nag her about (whatever) what will she/he learn from this?
I hope you enjoy these tips and let me know if any of you found it useful or would like to add some alternatives!
Skippy who dislikes bruises on the outside and the inside!! Yeah to alternatives, roll them out !!