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Avoid Unhealthy Discipline: The 3 “What Not to Do's"

The 3 “What Not to Do's”: Giving-In, Bribing and Bullying

Behavior Checker solutions recommend What to Do’s for using healthy parenting strategies.  And we also share What Not to Do’s for each. Here's how these What Not to Do strategies teach children lessons you DON'T want them to learn:

  • Many parents will give in after their child begs or whines for a while.  It may work to stop the whining and reduce their stress at that moment, but is neither good for the child nor the parents. Giving-in discipline sounds like this: “Okay, I can’t stand it. Just stop your whining and crying, and I’ll get you the ice cream.” The child learns to persist until he wins. He learns poor social skills, such as whining and crying away from home, which can create rejection by peers and lead to feeling isolated, anxious, insecure and constantly worried in social situations. These are just a few outcomes that are emotionally and psychologically harmful to a child’s health and well-being.

  • We all know that bribing is an age-old way to get people to do what we want. A parent may say, “If you do your worksheets, I’ll give you a toy.” Bribing has the unwanted benefit of often working in the short term, especially if the payoff is big enough, but not in the long term.

    The danger in bribing is that a child learns that everything is negotiable and all behavior has a price. Because it works to get him what he wants, a child will refuse to do anything unless there is a big enough external reward. The constant bargaining creates additional stress for a parent and a child, and fails to teach him to cooperate. He will then hold out on decisions until he gets his way, which can create a problem with friends and others as he stubbornly refuses to cooperate without a payoff.

  • All degrees of corporal punishment, which includes hitting, slapping, spanking, yanking arms, or even threats to do any of these things, damage children’s emotional and physical health. The supportive science is well established, as dramatically demonstrated in landmark research by Elizabeth T. Gershoff at The University of Texas at Austin and the stunning results of the groundbreaking Adverse Childhood Experiences Study of Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control, and related studies.

    Threats of shouting and spanking fail to teach a child the behavior parents want him to learn. In fact, they teach the opposite:

    • How to shout
    • How to hit
    • How to be sneaky
    • How to fear
    • How to be ashamed
    • How to take anger out on others and how to bully

    According to the new Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), November 2018, "There appears to be a strong association between spanking children and subsequent adverse outcomes.Reports published since the previous 1998 AAP report have provided further evidence that has deepened the understanding of the effects of corporal punishment. The consequences associated with parental corporal punishment are summarized as follows:

    • corporal punishment of children younger than 18 months of age increases the likelihood of physical injury;

    • repeated use of corporal punishment may lead to aggressive behavior and altercations between the parent and child and may negatively affect the parent-child relationship;

    • corporal punishment is associated with increased aggression in preschool and school-aged children;

    • experiencing corporal punishment makes it more, not less, likely that children will be defiant and aggressive in the future;

    • corporal punishment is associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders and cognition problems;

    • the risk of harsh punishment is increased when the family is experiencing stressors, such as family economic challenges, mental health problems, intimate partner violence, or substance abuse; and

    • spanking alone is associated with adverse outcomes, and these outcomes are similar to those in children who experience physical abuse."

    In the conclusion of the Policy Statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics, "recommends that adults caring for children use healthy forms of discipline, such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations. The AAP recommends that parents do not use spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating, or shaming."

The authors and Raised with Love and Limits Foundation disclaim responsibility for any harmful consequences, loss, injury or damage associated with the use and application of information or advice contained in these prescriptions and on this website. These protocols are clinical guidelines that must be used in conjunction with critical thinking and critical judgment.