Smacking is one of many punitive options parents choose when raising a child, because it is usually the parenting style most familiar to them.
However, choosing positive parenting – giving a child what he needs to be happy and successful from the day he is born – will raise someone who is kind and co-operative, making smacking and the ‘d’ (discipline) word obsolete.
Here are 10 positive parenting options that work well in place of smacking:
1. Positive attention
As parents we are quick to point out any undesirable behaviour. We criticise our children’s actions. Letâ??s rather be quicker to acknowledge, support and collaborate with our precious children, keeping negative comments to ourselves.
2. Make them feel loved
Children need to feel loved.
Sit and hold your children for 10 minutes each day, and tell them how dear they are to you, how proud you are of them, and how much you love them.
Even if you have four children, it will take you less than an hour to spend quality time with each child. You will see them swell with self-esteem and confidence.
3. Consistency and predictability
Children need consistency and predictability in the form of routine. This makes them feel secure. They like to know with 100% certainty what is expected of them at home.
Collaborate with your children to set boundaries in the home which honour the needs of all family members.
Give your children reasons why they are expected to behave pro-socially and why time management is important for the family as a whole.
If the parent fails to provide structure and routine in the home, it is likely that the child will feel insecure and misbehave.
4. Teach empathy
Children need to be taught empathy, which is the ability to put yourself in another humanâ??s or animal’s position, consider what they are feeling, and respond in a sensitive way.
Empathy is not something that occurs naturally. An empathic person would find it very difficult to inflict pain on another person or animal, whether physical or mental, because they are aware of how the victim feels. Empathy is also key to a high emotional quotient (EQ).
5. Give reason to behave positively
Children need a reason to behave positively. Always explain to your child why you expect them to behave in a certain way. Although young, they will listen to your explanation, even if they donâ??t understand every word. The tone of your voice should be serious and reassuring.
6. Acknowledge your child’s feelings
Childrenâ??s feelings need to be acknowledged.
â??I know you donâ??t want to put your safety belt on. I know you feel restricted. Itâ??s uncomfortable, but we need to be safe when travelling on the road.â?
Acknowledging their feelings with the same exuberance as they are expressing them, makes them stop and listen to you.
7. Motivate your child to behave positively
Your child needs to be motivated to behave positively.
Be creative and find ways to motivate your child, as you would try and motivate a complete stranger to do something you desire.
Using incentives occasionally to help motivate a child is acceptable. However, using incentives all the time will teach the child to only work for a reward and not for self-fulfilment.
8. Be a role model
Children, including babies and toddlers, need parents who are good role models of positive behaviour.
Parents who shout, swear, argue, hit and fight in front of their children, make their children anxious. Such children blame themselves for the unhappiness in the home.
Take time for yourself as a parent. Ask for help from friends and family when you feel youâ??re cracking up. Argue in private, when the children arenâ??t present. Think of ways to model positive behaviour for your children. They will copy you.
9. Create problem solving options
Children need problem solving options to increase their intelligence quotient (IQ) and make them effective adults, especially in the business world. If a parentâ??s only problem solving technique is aggression in the form of smacking, shouting, or bullying, then that is what their children will learn.
Teach children to think outside the box, especially when they have erred. Have a debate at the dinner table, and explore all the options.
10. Have patience and creativity
Children need patience and creativity to steer them towards positive behaviour.
If you are aware that they are tired and irritable, and about to throw a tantrum, try to be patient and donâ??t make the situation worse by being punitive. If possible, find them a private space where they can freely express themselves. Tantrums can be a stress relief for a child.
As parents sometimes we need to step away from a situation and de-stress. If you feel the urge to hit, ask yourself how would I feel right now if I was him or her? Try to meet their needs creatively.
Focusing on what children need makes raising them a pleasure, as they respond positively, and you can begin to enjoy their uniqueness.
Substituting emotional and verbal abuse for smacking should never be an option, and neither should bribery and extortion. They are just as harmful as smacking.
Good luck! May you be inspired to practice positive parenting.
About the Author: Claire Marketos www.inspiredparenting.co.za