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Four Alternatives to Hitting Children

By Kerby T. Alvy, Ph.D.

National surveys show that over the past twenty years, more than 90 percent of parents with small children admit to using one or more forms of corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment includes pinching, shaking, slapping, punching, a spanking, hitting, and beating children with an object such as a belt.

Studies have shown that using these methods can result in serious and tragic longer-term effects such as the children becoming abusive parents themselves.

So what can be done instead?

In the video Shaking, Hitting, Spanking: What to Do Instead parental techniques for gaining the cooperation and respect of children without resorting to corporal punishment or physical violence are discussed and demonstrated.

The video makes the point that infants should NEVER be punished. Infants do not know the difference between right and wrong. Because their behavior is not intentional, they should never be punished.

Other alternatives to corporal punishment include;

1. PREVENTION - Probably the most effective alternative to hitting a child is prevention. By creating a "child proof" environment, where things are out of reach, children are less likely to get into trouble

2. SHOW DISAPPOINTMENT - Let the child know that you are disappointed in his or her behavior. Explain what your expectations are. Make sure they understand right from wrong and what the rules are. Tell them what will happen if they continue to act in an inappropriate manner.

3. TAKE AWAY A PRIVILEGE - If a child misbehaves after being warned, a privilege such as watching television can be taken away or restricted. Other privileges include playing with a certain toy. Never withhold food.

4. GIVE A "TIME-OUT" - Sending a child to their room is not an appropriate "Time-Out." Rather select an area that is isolated from others such a certain chair in the corner of a room or hallway.. Make sure the child knows why he or she is being given a "Time Out" and how long it will last.

But by far the most loving alternative to corporal punishment is to develop a "non-hitting" attitude where corporal punishment is never an option. Of course, this takes good amount of self- control, patience and an understanding that hitting a child is never a good idea.

About The Author
Kerby T. Alvy, Ph.D. is a nationally and internationally respected authority on parenting and parent training. He is the executive director and founder of the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring in Studio City, CA. The center has a variety of parenting books, videos and other products available on its Web site On his blog,, Dr. Alvy addresses a variety of parenting topics, issues, and trends. Dr. Alvy is also available as a consultant, speaker, and media guest. For more information, go to To sign-up for Dr. Alvy's free Effective Parenting Newsletter, go to and click on "Add Me".

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