Abuse Prevention: Alternatives to Physical Discipline

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Do you know about alternatives to physical discipline? The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies offers tips for providing a positive environment for children on their website. If you are a parent or someone who works with children, these tips will be a helpful resource in dealing with challenging behaviors.

The article Alternatives to Physical Discipline: Provide a Positive Environment for Children  explains that “Most children will learn how to behave well if the environment in which they grow up is nurturing and caring. A happy relationship between a parent and a child is the most important foundation on which to build acceptable behaviour.”

The article goes on to explain that children are more likely exhibit good behaviour if they are:

- loved, valued and told how important they are
- shown how to behave well because the adults around them behave well
- not expected to behave in ways which are beyond their developmental capacities
- given clear rules and parents are consistent about them
- supervised well and kept occupied with appropriate activities
- provided with predictable and sensible routines
- having their physical and emotional needs well attended to

The article identifies the attributes of good discipline as:

- positive reinforcement
- praise
- modelling
- structure and routine
- setting and maintaining limits
- realistic expectations and follow through
- verbal and non-verbal cues
- time outs
- logical consequences
- problem-solving

Good communication is essential for positive parenting. The article explains, “Effective parent-child communication is the foundation for building your child's self-esteem and fostering loving, supportive relationships with others. Keep the lines open and listen actively to what your child has to say.” Tips for communicating well with your child include:

- get on the same level as your child when you talk
- use words and phrases that your children understand
- avoid including too many ideas in your messages
- give clear and consistent instructions
- make sure your nonverbal messages do not interfere with or contradict your verbal messages
- pay full attention to your child
-  maintain eye contact with him or her to enhance communication
- ask what, how and why questions that promote discussion rather than questions requiring only yes or no answers
- be alert to body language and respond in kind just as you do with friends

Talking with your teens is important, too. The article recommends finding occasions to talk with your teen alone, away from other family members or distractions. Remember:

- teens deserve respect
- adults should respect their teens and expect it in return
- adults should show respect for a teenagers friends
- never berate or belittle a teen in front of his/her peers
- think about how often you ask teens questions and seek their opinions

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