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Spanking: should I or shouldn't I? For School-Age Children

For School-Age Children

When children enter school, they are old enough to start making some of their own decisions. This means that they may not always listen to their parents, but may do things that their friends approve of. It is very important to children to feel part of a group. Therefore, parents need to provide clear rules and, more importantly, to explain to their children why they should follow those rules. Parents need to help their children understand the consequences of their actions, but must also recognize that much learning at this age is done first-hand. There will be times when children are hurt physically or emotionally, and parents need to provide support. If your child can trust you to guide him gently through these years without harsh punishments, he is likely to be more open and honest with you and to come to you for help, rather than fearing you and turning to other children for advice and support.

Focus on the positive things that your child does. Many times, we tell children what we don't want them to do, but we neglect to let them know what we do want them to do. The best way to communicate what you would like your child to do is by recognizing his good behaviour and reinforcing it. Reinforcement can be an outing for pizza, a favourite meal, a special video, or simply a hug or a comment like, "That's good," or "I'm proud of you," or "I love you." Children are learning what we expect of them. They cannot learn this if we don't tell them what we think is important.

Remove yourself from the situation if you feel yourself getting angry. Remember that your children value your attention, so when they lose it they are actually being punished while you are calming down.

Hold the child firmly by the shoulders, look directly into your child's eyes, and speak firmly when you want to make a point.

Be consistent in your expectations and responses to misbehaviour. Try to ensure that all caregivers respond in the same way. Consistency is an effective teacher.

Open channels of communication so that you and your child can express your needs in ways that resolve, rather than increase, conflict.

Teach and model negotiation and problem-solving strategies. Show your child how impulse and anger control can lead to constructive ways of resolving disagreements.

Give explanations for why you want your child to behave in a particular way and hear his explanation for why he misbehaved. Let him know the likely consequences of his actions. Give him the information he needs to make wise choices.

Understand your child's growing need for independence. Help her to find ways of expressing her individuality that you can accept.

Set clear rules and follow through. If you threaten a consequence for misbehaviour, follow through with it. Make your words count. Just make sure that the consequence is fair and enforceable. No parent can make a child stay in his room for two weeks, nor should they. But if your child rides his bike into an area where he is not allowed to go, it would follow that he loses the use of his bike for a day - or longer, depending on the seriousness of the misbehaviour.