Creative Child

Sensible Alternatives to Traditional Discipline Techniques

by Rebecca Eanes

Common discipline tricks include time-out, spanking, removal of privileges, and grounding. Many parents are even getting quite creative with their tricks, using humiliation, public shaming, and hot sauce. Unfortunately, while these tricks may work in the short term, they erode the trust and connection that are so vital to our true parental authority.

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Which leaves many asking “well what do we do?” Giving specific discipline advice is my least favorite thing to do as a parenting author and educator because all situations, children, and family dynamics are unique. I believe we parent at our best when we evaluate each circumstance, reading our children as best we can in that moment, and meeting them where they are to teach them what they need to know depending upon what the problem reveals to us. I believe we need to let go of fanciful ideas of one-size-fits-all discipline, promising programs, and quick fixes and look to our own intuition and knowledge of our children and circumstances. 

However, with that said, I understand that parents like to have alternatives when getting away from traditional discipline practices while they get their “positive parenting legs” underneath them. Below are several sensible alternatives that keep trust and connection intact while providing children the guidance they need through childhood.

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Alternatives to Time-Out:

Spanking and time-outs are the most popular forms of toddler discipline in traditional parenting.

Try these instead:

Time-in is a great alternative to time-out because rather than isolating a little one, which can feel scary and threatening causing further agitation and misbehavior, time-in brings the child closer, often onto our laps or sitting next to us. I know this may seem counter-intuitive at first because we’ve been so conditioned to believe that we must push children away in order to make them behave, but many parents have shared testimonies of success with time-in.

What does it look like: If you away from home, let’s say at a park, and your child pushes another child down in frustration, you’d go to her, say “Uh-oh, you pushed her down and that hurt her. Come sit with me and I’ll keep everyone safe.” You bring her to your lap, arms gently wrapped around her, and judge what state she is in.

If she is angry, she may need your help to calm her brain. Perhaps rocking back and forth, humming a familiar song, or telling her a story will soothe her. She needs to sit with you until she has calmed down and is able to tell you that pushing others down is not okay.

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