Discipline Without Smacking

Being a parent is a wonderful experience but it can also be very demanding. Along with the joys come responsibilities and parents often feel that their resources are pushed to the limit. The greatest strain of all falls on a parent’s emotional resources. This stress and strain is one of the main reasons why parents would use smacking as a form of discipline – a light slap on the hand takes far less time than explaining right and wrong to a two year old. Other parents use this as a form of discipline as they are unaware of the alternatives. At the end of the day, slapping is wrong as it violates children’s rights. It also provides them with a bad example on how to deal with difference of opinion and difficult situations. Most of all it is completely INEFFECTIVE.

So what are the alternatives to slapping?

1-3 years


Children this young may not understand words but they can learn from our actions. For example, your toddler takes another child’s toy. By picking your child up and removing him/her from the room for a few minutes at a time whenever he/she does this, the child will gradually associate taking another’s toy with being taken away from the fun completely. The first time you take the child away from the toys etc. there will inevitably be tears and discontent which can be upsetting in itself for a parent. But this method of discipline not only teaches a child right from wrong but also about making their own choices i.e. he/she can take from others but will be removed from the fun completely or choose to behave and continue to play.

Children aged 4+


By giving a child time out you are giving the child time to consider his/her behaviour. The most important thing about time out is that the child spends this time in a boring environment e.g. the hallway, as opposed to the TV room or his/her bedroom. Time out makes it clear to the child that you will not give attention to tantrums and bad behaviour and it also gives you a chance to calm down. It is recommended that time outs aren’t used with children under 4 and that when opting for this discipline parents should allow a minute for each year of the child’s age e.g. a time out for a child of 5 should ideally last for 5 minutes only and so on.


Teach children right from wrong by giving them choices. For example, if a child refuses to do homework you can accept that in a calm way but let them know that the alternative to not doing homework is going to bed early.



Try to discuss any conflicts in a positive way, without getting cross. It is better to ‘negotiate’ with your child and find a middle way that you can both accept, just as you would with an adult.


Teenagers are more likely to respect your views if you show respect for theirs. Imposing your opinions may only make things worse.


Try not to be too critical – as they become adults, children need a lot of support and encouragement to build up their confidence.