A child’s disruptive and oppositional behaviors can push any parent to the breaking point.  As a last resort, parents may feel like they have no other choice other than to use spanking or other forms of corporal punishment because (in the moment) it feels like the fastest and most effective way to change your child’s behavior.

The disciplinary choices you make today have serious consequences on your child, your child’s behaviors and their ability to relate to others.

The reality is that harsh forms of physical and/or verbal discipline (also known as, corporal punishment) are harmful and ineffective – it actually makes behaviors worse – here’s why:

  • It sends a mixed message – children don’t understand why it’s okay for you to hit but not okay for them to hit; and why it’s okay for you to be disrespectful and yell when you’re mad but not okay for them to express their anger this way.
  • Children, who are treated aggressively, learn to be aggressive with others.  Children will start approaching conflict with siblings and peers by modeling the punishment they’ve received – by yelling and hitting – making it harder and harder for them to be independent and get along with others. 
  • It’s a vicious cycle – more harsh punishment = more problem behaviors resulting in more harsh punishments, escalating the situation worse than ever before and becomes harder to adjust.
  • Children become desensitized to punishments – you’ll see less and less immediate behavior change you saw the first time.
  • Children learn to fear the punisher, as opposed to learning what they did wrong – meaning, they might avoid doing this behavior again with ONLY you. Consider how quickly those behaviors will return when they’re with another caregiver, what will happen when they go back to school? Teachers won’t be able to control these behaviors with yelling and spanking.
  • Children learn to lie and hide mistakes or misbehaviors to avoid being punished – there is no incentive for telling the truth. 
  • Punishments that shame and embarrass your child are internalized – your child will see themselves as the problem (vs. the behavior as the problem) leading to serious impacts on self-image and self-esteem putting them at higher risk of developing mental illness.
  • Children quickly pick up on empty threats – why should they comply when they know you won’t follow through? Or when they figure out there is nothing left to take away?
  • When the punishments doesn’t fit the crime – harsh forms of physical and/or verbal discipline will NEVER feel fair or justified to a child – it will instead add fuel to your child’s anger and make behaviors worse.

How to discipline without forceful verbal or physical punishment: 

Discipline that aims to control behavior is going to backfire.  Discipline that aims to TEACH skills and desired behaviors will create lasting change by helping your child learn from their mistakes. 

Using the resources provided below, you will find step-by-step guides to learn a wealth of effective discipline methods that will change a child’s disruptive and oppositional behaviors in the immediate moment AND in the long term.

Additional resources: 

We have all of this information in an easily downloadable, clickable PDF that you can save and share:

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