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10 Effective Ways to Discipline a Child without Hitting Them

10 Effective Ways to Discipline a Child without Hitting Them

Spanking or hitting a child is an age-old form of punishment. For many parents, it’s an effective way of correcting bad behavior. However, many child experts are against the idea, citing the negative effects of corporal punishment. Keeping this in mind, what are the other effective ways to discipline a child without hitting them?

Parenting Styles in the Philippines

What is Corporal Punishment

Before we discuss the various ways to discipline a child without hitting them, parents must first understand why it may not be a good idea to use corporal punishment.

To clarify, corporal punishment is not just hitting kids with an object or spanking them by hand. It also includes pinching, twisting, kicking, and pulling.

Simply put, corporal punishment is an umbrella term for all the physical punishments a parent may use on their child.

ways to discipline a child without hitting

The Health Effects of Corporal Punishment

Let’s say a child took their coloring materials and drew on the pristine white walls of their house. When the mother saw this, she immediately spanks her child to stop the bad behavior.

Hurt and scared, said child cried, stopped drawing on the wall, and never did it again.

From that example, it’s easy to see why many parents feel that hitting is an effective way of disciplining a child.

However, according to experts, regular physical punishment only:

  • Makes children fearful of their parents.
  • Teaches kids to “avoid” getting caught doing bad things.
  • Sends a message to kids that being aggressive is an effective response to anger.

Since it’s now clear how physical punishment affects a child’s future, let’s move on to the different ways to discipline a child without hitting them.

10 Ways to Discipline a Child without Hitting Them

Consider Your Child’s Development

How should parents discipline their child?

The answer to that question mostly depends on your child’s age and development. Before you think about imposing discipline, ask yourself this question first: Do they really need discipline or they’re just acting their age?

For instance, if a preschooler breaks something, it’s probably not because they are being naughty. It’s most likely because they are curious.

Discipline Styles and Strategies for Preschoolers

Feel for Your Child

One of the best ways to discipline a child without hitting them is to take a step back and “feel” for them.

Remember: Kids who are hurt, hungry, or uncomfortable might resort to misbehaving because they cannot properly express themselves yet.

Instead of spanking them (which might make the situation worse), ask if they need something. Their misbehavior might immediately stop the moment they feel better.

Set Rules

If you’re looking for ways to discipline a child without hitting them, you might want to set rules and expectations before any misbehavior happens.

This is an effective disciplinary approach because it helps the kids understand why they’re being called out on certain behavior.

Experts suggest that in setting rules and standards, you can do the following:

  • Use words that are appropriate to the child’s development.
  • Be consistent when calling them out on certain behavior whenever you see them doing it. If you scold them one time and ignore them the next, they might not take the rules seriously.

Be a Role Model

Kids are more likely to pay attention to what you do rather than what you say. This is why modelling good behavior is important.

Say “No”

How should parents discipline their child effectively? Try saying “no” immediately, sternly, and consistently.

Put Emphasis on Good Behavior

As much as it’s important to catch them when they’re misbehaving, it’s also crucial to praise them when they’re exhibiting good behavior.

It’s one of the most effective ways to discipline a child without hitting them because it encourages them to “do a good job again”.

Catching them on bad and good behavior also sends a message that you are paying attention to them. It will prevent them from “acting out” just to get your attention.

Use the Art of “Redirection”

There are instances when kids misbehave simply because they are bored or have too much energy. Help them channel this energy and enthusiasm into interesting activities to work on.

ways to discipline a child without hitting

Put them on Time-Out

And of course, there’s the option of putting them on a time-out – one of the most dependable ways to discipline a child without hitting them.

Remember these guidelines when putting a young child on time-out.

  • Put them on time-out immediately after the offense, otherwise, they might forget what they’re getting the time-out for.
  • Keep them in a safe area of the house, free from distractions, where they can think about what they did.
  • Keep them on a time-out for around a minute per year of their age. For example, 4-year-olds should have 4 minutes of time-out.

Remember that the goal of time-out is to remove the child from the situation and not draw attention to them.

Ignore Minor Misdemeanors

At times, it’ll also be helpful if you will ignore mild or minor offenses. As long as they are not in danger and they also receive a lot of praise for good behavior, not responding could be an effective disciplinary approach.

Ignoring mild offenses teaches kids little lessons about the wrong things they are doing.

Case in point, a child who frequently breaks his toys will soon learn that he would have no more toys to play with if they are all broken. Soon enough, they will learn to take care of their belongings.

Give Consequences

And finally, if you’re looking for ways to discipline a child without hitting them, don’t forget about your ability to enforce consequences.

For preschoolers, you can take away their favorite toys, or keep them from enjoying a privilege (like watching TV) for a set time.

The Role of Family in Child Development and Wellbeing

Key Takeaways

How should parents discipline their child? It’s a difficult question to answer because there’s no manual for parenting.

Each kid is different, so parents might find it helpful to consider a combination of the strategies above (or come up with their own), depending on their child’s needs.

An important reminder: Children must understand the reason why their parents are scolding them because it not only helps inspire good behavior; it also helps them develop a better understanding of it.

Learn more about Parenting here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


How Can Parents Discipline Without Spanking?
Accessed September 30, 2020

Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders: Results From a Nationally Representative US Sample
Accessed September 30, 2020

Relationships between parents’ use of corporal punishment and their children’s endorsement of spanking and hitting other children
Accessed September 30, 2020

Effective discipline for children
Accessed September 30, 2020

What’s the Best Way to Discipline My Child?
Accessed September 30, 2020

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 17
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS