Think back to when you were a kid. What did your parents do when you did something wrong–give you a spanking, ground you, tell you off? When their children misbehave, many parents nowadays wouldn’t dream of hitting their children or cutting them down to size with a demeaning comment. The same goes for schools. The strap was thrown out years ago, and educators face the possibility of a lawsuit for any kind of physical or verbal abuse they inflict upon their students. The tables have turned. Children nowadays are treated as our equals. We are obliged to give them the same respect we give our peers. This has created a challenge for caregivers. How do you discipline your equal–say your husband or wife? You wouldn’t get far by paddling them on the bum.
Communication is the key. Usually you sit down, talk things over, and try to arrive at a solution you both can live with. The big question is whether a discussion is the best way of handling every matter that comes up with children. My answer is, “No.” Say Brian whaps another kid over the head with a stick, or he forgets his homework for the fifth time in one week, maybe he has an out-of-control temper tantrum, or he’s mentally handicapped and doesn’t understand your explanations, or this can happen too, you’ve had it with Brian–talking matters over is a joke with him. What I’m saying is that communication may not work for every kid, or for the same kid in a different situation. In every case, it should be your first choice, but when you know it’s not the right time or place try something else. When the time is ripe you can always go back to the talking strategies. Here are some alternatives you may want to consider: