Today is National Spank Out Day!
What does that mean? It's a day devoted to NOT using physical punishment with your kids. Now, not spanking doesn't mean not disciplining. But what can you do instead of spanking, especially if you have spanked in the past? Some ideas on how to discipline gently:
1) Breathe, stop a moment, focus on yourself before responding to your child. Think about the message you're about to give. Will it help your child? Will it come out in a way you'll feel good about later? Say what you want to say in a way that YOU would want to hear it.
2) Give a hug or a gentle touch; or just get down on the floor with your child - being at the same level can be calming & give you perspective. We adults can look really big - and scary - when we're standing up.
3) Acknowledge big feelings: "I understand you are VERY frustrated right now". And your own, too: "I'm feeling angry too". Empathize with the feelings, and demonstrate how to move through them gently, without force. You are your child's first and best teacher. How would you WANT your child to act when they are angry? Act that way.
4) Offer a choice, instead of an ultimatum: "Do you want to put your toys away yourself, or would you like some help?" Choice is empowering and motivating.
5) Distract & redirect. Get everyone out the door for a walk, take a bath, make cookies. You don't need to be in "behavior correction" mode all the time. Give yourself and your child a break. When you're back to feeling good, being connected, then you can talk about the behavior that happened earlier in the day.
6) Fake it. Gentle discipline and mindful parenting in the face of a temper tantrum can be really REALLY hard; but it's very worthwhile. But, sometimes you have to fake it to make it. Pretend the "best parent in the world" is watching; what would you like them to see? Do that. The way you feel afterwards - knowing you were just a superhero in the face of a really difficult situation - will give you the power to do it again next time, without having to pretend.
7) Forgive. Be gentle with yourself, as you'd like to be with your child. You won't always "get it right"; but you're trying - and your child will see that. Forgive yourself, and move on. Next time, you'll do better.
I hope you'll use today to try an alternative to spanking. Keep in mind that whatever lesson you want to teach can be more effectively communicated when you are BOTH calm & connected. Cool off, calm down - you'll be more creative and your child will be more responsive. Connection is what good relationships is all about. When you connect with your child, helping correct behaviors will be so much easier. You can do this!
Peace to you.