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Discipline without Physical Punishment
by Jo Menneer 
 

Pressure grows over smacking law - Peers in the House of Commons have backed a compromise to limit parents right to smack children..when is a smack a moderate smack?

At The Parent Coaching Company we feel there are other ways to discipline children without resorting to smacking. We of course understand that a smack is often the last resort and that we may all fall foul to it and then feel dreadful that we did it.

From our own experience we know that smacking tends to be a 'reaction' from the parent rather a thought through 'response' and most research suggests that it promotes fear rather than respect in our children. In addition there is the fear of where can it lead, when one smack doesn't alter the behaviour of your child.what next? Smack harder?? Smacking is a form of punishment and on the whole we believe kids should be disciplines rather than punished.

We work in two ways with our clients. We teach skills that give them the tools of positive discipline, how to discipline a child through consequences whilst maintaining self-esteem. Secondly we pay attention to the parents well being, a tired stressed parent is more likely to fall foul to harsh discipline and we encourage our clients to take a good look at their lives and what needs letting go and what needs letting in, in order that they can have more resources for them and their children.

Even when we are at the end of our tethers there are alternatives to smacking, here our top ten tips on what to do when the kids are driving you up the wall.

 Take a 'time out' - When you feel your anger getting the better of you take a time out - that's right just like we do with the kids except you don't have to go and sit on the naughty step! Just withdraw in whichever way you can, be it, leaving the room briefly, counting to ten, making a cuppa. Take the time it takes for you to get back to 'cool calm parent'

Acknowledge how you are feeling - To be able to take the time out you first need to spot that you're feeling really angry. This may sound obvious but we often don't recognise it until it's too late. Say to yourself, I am MAD, time for a time out, and then do it .

Acknowledge how your child is feeling - Resist the temptation to say calm down, stop that, because that usually escalates the problem further. Instead try to soothe heated feelings by reflecting back what you think your child is feeling. Toddlers are unable to articulate their own feelings and will need your help. Do this by articulating what you see. For example ‘You must be feeling really angry right now'. ‘You must be feeling frustrated not to be able to do x.'

"I," not "you." - Avoid using ‘you' statements with your child and switch to ‘i' statements. So instead of ‘you are so naughty' ‘you'll never learn' think of it in terms of an ‘I' eg ‘I don't like picking up clothes off the floor every day' or ‘I get upset when we are not on time' These are less hurtful and help to acknowledge how you are feeling AND help your child to articulate feelings by being a role model – now that cant be bad!

Be a role model - As we are on the subject of role models consider how you can be one for your child. Emotional intelligence tells us that expressing the right emotion in the appropriate way at the right time' is what we should be aiming for, so knowing that how do you want to role model it for your kids?

Resist cashing in your green shield stamps - You know the way we can do this. Our kids make us angry and we start reeling off not just that incident and what is wrong with it but every other time they have pressed our buttons and made us feel bad. We literally cash them all in. So stay in the present and stick to the issue in hand.

Put it in writing - If you are too angry to speak, don't. If your child is old enough to read, express your feelings in writing. Sometimes just the time required to find pen and paper will help you to cool off.

Make up - When you do lose it, reconnect with your child as soon as possible. Know that you can apologise and say sorry, for a younger child it may come with a cuddle, for an older child with an explanation of why you were angry along with an apology. By apologising it demonstrates respect for our kids and tells them that even grown ups get it wrong.

Recognize what the problem is - Is it really your child's messy room? Or are you sleep-deprived? Feeling overwhelmed at work? ‘Cross that your teen is invading your space?' Mad at your husband or mother or boss? Be aware of when you are more vulnerable to anger and resist the urge to transfer negative feelings to your child. Instead think ‘what can I do about this'

Create a family rule - Have a "no losing it" rule to make kids and parents aware of the times they go ballistic. But do it with a light touch. For instance, make a chart and tack on a sticker when one of you has an outburst. If one family member is accumulating a lot of stickers, it's time to talk about it.