Beat Your Kids Into Submission. That’ll Teach Them!
No. no. no. The headline above is designed to get your attention, but it is not the right approach. Spanking, hitting and other forms of physical punishment are NOT the best way to discipline children, and family court judges are becoming increasingly interested in how parents handle such situations.
Sure, if you hit your kids, they may straighten up…but have they learned anything? Have they reformed their behavior for any reason other than fear of physical retribution? And what have you taught them about the way to resolve problems? Children who have spanked, hit, belted, beaten or paddled frequently may transfer the act of physical punishment to other children, to their own children, and to pets. Not a good idea.
Try re-directing their misbehaviors into positive alternatives. If you don’t want the children tracking mud and snow through your living room, have them join you in setting up an entrance path through the garage or the back door, replete with a stand to depositing dirty shoes and boots on the way into the house. To stop them from throwing the football in the house, take a few minutes with them outside tossing the ball back and forth in the back yard.
You can also impose non-physical forms of punishment. “If you track mud and dirt onto the living room carpet, we will not serve lunch until you vacuum and shampoo the carpet, and until it passes my inspection.” Or, “since you chose not to study for the test yesterday, you’ll have no choice but to study tonight. The shopping trip that we had planned to make tonight will be canceled so that you can study. Perhaps next week, when you’re caught up with your studying, we can re-schedule the shopping trip.”
Always continue to communicate with your children, openly and non-aggressively, when disciplining them. Angry standoffs serve no purpose. Talk to them about the consequences of their actions. “Because you drank the grape juice in the living room and spilled it on the white sofa, I’m going to have to get that sofa professionally cleaned. It’s going to cost me more than $300. What do you think we could have spent $300 on, if we didn’t have to clean a stained sofa? Do you understand now why I want you to do all of your eating or drinking in the kitchen or in the den?”
There are no absolute guidelines for proper discipline of errant children. Every family is different, every child is different, and different styles often work successfully. The guidelines above, however, provide a good foundation for how to proceed, in most families. When you see extreme deviations with negative results, it may serve as a reason for challenging a party’s parenting style in family court. What are your experiences?