Part 10: Conclusions, Resources and What To Do Instead
by Kerby T. Alvy, Ph.D.
The major points covered in this series of articles gives you and everyone who relates to children ample justification for never hitting children. Books and training programs like The NEW Confident Parenting, Effective Black Parenting and Los Ninos Bien Educados provide the skills and ideas for learning and using only non-violent approaches.
There are other issues to consider about the use of physical punishment with children. An excellent source for reviewing a fuller range of considerations is a book by Olivier Manual,
Spanking: Questions and Answers About Disciplinary Violence. It not only covers more issues but includes ways of dealing with people and groups who believe in the use of physical punishment. I strongly recommend this excellent book which has a Forward by world-respected child advocate and clinician Alice Miller and which is written in a very reader-friendly manner. It is available free by clicking on its title.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD:
Here is a summary of actions to take instead of ever hitting children:
1. PREVENTION – Probably the most effective alternative to hitting a child is prevention. By creating a “child proof” environment, children are less likely to get into trouble. For example, in the early years placing interesting objects out of the reach of children is child proofing. Creating a stool for little kids to stand on to obtain a needed item cuts down on wining requests when you are occupied, etc. Also playing with children builds up their desire to cooperate and learn good interpersonal habits.
2. SHOW DISAPPOINTMENT – Let the child know that you are disappointed in his or her behavior. Explain what your expectations are. Make sure he or she understands right from wrong and what the rules are. Explain the consequences if the inappropriate behavior continues.
3. TAKE AWAY A PRIVILEGE – If a child misbehaves after being warned, a privilege such as watching television or playing on the computer can be taken away or restricted. Other privileges include playing with a certain toy. Never withhold food.
4. GIVE A “TIME-OUT” – Sending a child to his or her room is not an appropriate “Time-Out.” Instead, select an area that is isolated from others, such as a certain chair in the corner of a room or hallway. Make sure the child knows why he or she is being given a “Time Out” and how long it will last.
5. CATCH THEM BEING GOOD – Whenever a child does something good (helps set the table, brush teeth, speaks politely, etc.) be sure to react with praise and other forms of acceptance of those behaviors. The more parents respond positively, the less likely children are to misbehave.
6. CREATE A CONTRACT (especially with teenagers) – Write down what you want your teen to do (clean up his/her room, etc.) and indicate what you will do in exchange (stop talking about his friends that you don’t like, etc.). Be specific in indicating what you want to see and what you will or will not do. Sign the contract.
7. BE EMPATHETIC – In words and actions, show your children that you understand the difficulties they are facing (other kids calling them names, the loss of a pet, etc.). Feeling understood helps children feel good about themselves, and such feelings lessen the times they misbehave.
8. NEGOTIATE A BEHAVIORAL TRADE — Agree to change a behavior of your own, such as refraining from criticizing his school work, friends and taste in music and clothes, for the child or teen not talking back to parents and using profanity in the presence of parents. And follow through on the agreement.
9. TAKE A PARENTING COURSE – All of these alternatives to hitting children have fine tuning points, which are best learned with other parents who are trying to do the best for their children and create harmony in the home. Take the time and effort to sign up for a parenting skill-building course at your church, college, school or local agency. It’s the best continuing education you can get and it sets a great example for your children.
Here’s another way of appreciating and viewing many of these alternatives in a graphic created by a school district that actively promotes positive, non-violent parenting:
Parenting Classes: Call 211
To find parenting classes in your community, call the central number for referrals in the United States –211–and tell them where you live and why you are looking for a parenting class. This nationwide service usually has information on which agencies and groups in the community offer parenting classes to the public.
You can also Google Parenting Classes in (your community) to find classes.
It is worth the time and effort to become the most educated and sensitive parent you can be. You will not regret making yourself the best parent you can be.
Remember any job is easier when you have had the proper training.
The gift of effective parenting is the greatest gift we can give our children. It is a gift that keeps on giving.
Finally, be a good parenting citizen by sharing this 10 part series, and its references and books, with other family members, friends, colleagues and community leaders. Hold meetings to discuss the various points and to go to classes together. Also check out the various parenting blogs and programs on the Internet. Become a truly educated and educating mother or father.
My best wishes to you and your family on what can and should be the most fulfilling and exciting interpersonal journey of your lives.
Dr. Alvy and his two daughters, who are both human service professionals, a psychologist and a social worker, and advocates for the humane treatment of all human beings.
We encourage your comments and opinions below.