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News Room

Smacking Not An Option – 5 Child Disciplinary Alternatives

Melissa Cohen
2017-10-28
Have you been using corporal punishment to discipline your child? Well, this is now illegal. What disciplinary methods do you use?
The Gauteng High Court has ruled that it is illegal to hit your child. Judge Raylene Keightley announced that adults who perform corporal punishment on their children could be accused of assault. With many organisations around South Africa up in arms, there is a possibly that this decision could be referred to the Supreme Court of Appeal. In the meantime, we have compiled a list of five child disciplinary alternatives that don't involved raising a hand.
Read more about the new law that bans parents from disciplining their child.

1. SHANARRI Method

The SHANARRI Method was devised by the Scottish government in 2016. This method falls under the Children and Young People Act of 2014. This act aims to improve the well-being of young people and children alike. SHANARRI stands for the following:
  • Safe;
  • Healthy;
  • Achieving;
  • Nurtured;
  • Active;
  • Respected;
  • Responsible;
  • Included.
The Scottish government believe that a young person's well-being is influenced by everything around them. They want the youth to reach their full potential as individuals. By referring to the different indicators, parents are able to identify what the issue is, and can then provide the right support. In conjunction with this method, the GIRFEC or Getting It Right For Every Child ideology is used. This method is also aimed at ensuring that a child's over-all well-being is being considered.

2. Reaction To The Action

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the National Mental Health highlight the importance of consequences. They highlight the importance of taking away privileges in response to bad behaviour. This could be anything from taking away television time to not allowing them to attend a soccer match. This techinique will work the best if the privilege is:
  • Related in some way to the behavior;
  • Something the child values;
  • Taken away as soon as possible after the inappropriate behavior (especially for young children).
The AAP believes that hitting a child is not the answer. They believe that this could be detrimental to the child because of the following reasons:
  • Make children more aggressive;
  • Become more violent and harm a child;
  • Cause children to think that it's OK to physically hurt someone you love.

3. Time Out!

Dr Harvey, author of the series, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, explains that time outs need to be issued as young as a year old. It is important to be strong and hold your ground, even if your child puts up a fight. He said that parents must ensure that the child stays in time-out for the entire duration. Karp recommends that “The child should stay there for roughly one minute for every year of age." See this time-out experience as a chance for you to take a breather as well. Take this time and cool down and rethink the situation without making any rash decisions. Child development specialist, Betsy Brown Braun explains that this break can provide both you, and your child, with some time to think about the issue. "When you have both come back to planet Earth, even as long as an hour later depending upon the age of the child (the younger the child, the shorter the time), do your revisit.”

4. "Clap-Growl" Method

This method might bring out the primitive side of you, but it sure works. According to Dr Karp, children are like little primates who are rather uncivilized. If a child has done something wrong, sometimes speaking to them in a calm, relaxed tone might make the situation worse.
Dr Karp recommends the "clap-growl" technique. "“When you see your young child doing something that you don’t like, rather than spanking them, you give a good sharp clap, which gets their attention, and then with a serious look on your face, you admonish them. ‘No bite!’ with that index finger extended. And then, do what’s called a double take; you look away from them for a second, and then you look back at them just a few seconds later with that stern look again and say, ‘No bite,’” he says.
He explains that disciplining a child is like training a dog- it takes some time and some repeating. If you show who's boss from the beginning, the struggle will lessen.

5. The Three Es

Emory University School of Medicine's Dr Sheena Carter, explains that a positive atmosphere is less likely to cause conflict between you and your offspring. The three Es, otherwise known as Establishing an Environment of Encouragement is one of Carter's alternative methods of discipline. She mentions that instead of getting angry about what the child has done wrong, rather reward them for positive behaviour. Dr Carter reiterates the importance of eye contact as well as ensuring that instructions are simple. Remain stern in your instructions and then reward with praise or previous promises. She also explains that independent play time is really important. This is to ensure that he/she is able to enjoy his/her own company. If you see that your kid is successfully playing on their own, provide them with some positive re-enforcement and acknowledgement. What child disciplinary alternatives do you use? Let us know.
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