9 Tips To Discipline Children Without Spanking Them

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Spanking is a term used to describe the act of hitting a child with open hands, mostly on their bottom. This is a common parenting technique to discipline children and has been in practice for several decades now. Some argue that spanking is a harmless act, while others disagree. Since spanking has a long history, some parents are skeptical about whether or not to spank their children (1).

Read on to know more about the facts, effects, and alternatives of spanking children.

Is It Okay To Spank Your Child?

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents avoid any form of physical punishment for their child, including spanking (2). Spanking might temporarily help you stop your child’s undesired or problematic behavior. However, many studies over the years have demonstrated that spanking is ineffective in instilling positive behaviors in your child in the long run (1). Moreover, physical punishments, such as hitting and spanking, may lead to injuries and many other problems.

What Are The Consequences Of Spanking Children?

Spanking may lead to the following adverse effects on a child’s overall health and well-being (1) (3).

  1. Studies prove that spanking may pose an increased risk of mental health and cognitive disorders in children.
  1. Spanking increases the likelihood of serious physical injuries.
  1. Spanking is an illustration of aggressive behavior. It may encourage your child to imitate your behaviors, increasing the risk of behavioral problems.
  1. If you spank regularly, it may normalize the act of hitting. Your child might assume that physical force, or any form of violence, is an acceptable method of getting things done (4).
  1. Your child might become used to getting spanked and not fear punishments. You may end up losing the influence on your child. The child may even become more rebellious.
  1. Research shows that spanking may negatively affect a child’s social and emotional development (5).
  1. Spanking may increase the risk of aggression and anti-social behavior. The child may also be at an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Is It Legal To Spank Your Child?

The legality of spanking children varies by country. There are about 33 countries that have banned all forms of corporal punishments in children, including those by the parents (1). In the US, many states explicitly restrict corporal punishment, such as spanking, while others do not restrict it (6). Nevertheless, any grievous injury to a child due to corporal punishment, including those caused by parents’ spanking, may be subject to legal proceedings in most countries.

How To Discipline Without Spanking?

When you feel anguished by your child’s behavior, keep in mind that spanking is not the right way of correcting them. Instead, parents may follow alternative methods that work without having to hit the child (7) (8).

  1. Establish a friendly and supportive relationship with your child, which may encourage them to demonstrate positive behavior and share their problems openly. If the child is always spanked, the child may see you only as a controller and not someone they can rely on.
  1. Take time out from your routine to patiently explain to the child the right behavior in polite words in a manner best understood by your child. Show them the actions that are right and those that are wrong.
  1. Set rules and limits and make no exception in any situation, letting the child know the consequences of prohibited actions. It may reduce tantrums and related aggression, which often results in spanking.
  1. Observe any potential triggers that cause your child to become unruly and cranky, leading you to spank the child. Comprehending past experiences may help you identify triggers.
  1. Be a good role model by maintaining your calm in all situations. Make sure you follow the same behavior and rules you expect your child to follow.
  1. Shower your child with rewards and praise when they do something good. This will encourage them to keep up the good behavior over time. Rewards can be simple items such as stickers or homemade coupons that your child may redeem for some item at a later date.
  1. You may try other disciplinary methods such as a time-out or withdrawing your child’s favorite privileges for a while. Once the child has served the disciplinary action, calmly explain their mistake without berating them.
  1. Holding high expectations from your child’s behavior can make you frequently agitated. Therefore, accept the limits of your child’s behavior and range of understanding based on their age.
  1. Choose to ignore some actions that may not be entirely wrong or bad. Focus on checking your child’s behavior objectively rather than scolding them for an action, which may be annoying to you as an adult but not inappropriate for someone of the child’s age.

Spanking children is a common technique adopted by parents while disciplining them. Though this method is a debatable approach to teaching discipline in children, most parents resort to it as they have seen their elders do it for generations. However, studies have reported that spanking might not be beneficial for the child; rather, it could increase the risk of physical and emotional harm. Therefore, you may try identifying the triggers, encouraging children to behave, and rewarding them to teach discipline. These non-violent parenting approaches could help nurture a physically and emotionally stable child.

Key Pointers

  • Experts advise against any form of punishment, including spanking, to instill positive behavior in children.
  • According to experts, spanking can hurt the child physically and affect them mentally, increasing the risk of aggression and anti-social behavior.
  • Encouraging children to express themselves, explaining positive behavior, and setting rules and limits are a few ways to discipline them without spanking.


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Vidya Tadapatri

Vidya did her post-graduation in Biotechnology from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Her interest in scientific research and writing made her pursue a career in writing, in which she now has over four years of experience. She has done certified biotechnology-related training programs under renowned organizations such as Centre For Cellular & Molecular Biology and Department of Biotechnology. Vidya writes health-based articles... more