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7 alternative ways to discipline children

Corporal punishment is a common way of discipling children at home and in schools in Tanzania. In schools, head teachers, are allowed to give a punishment not exceeding four strokes to students.

Corporal punishment is not the most effective way to discipline children. It can lead to not only physical harm but also harms children's emotional health and behavioural development. Instead of corporal punishment try some of these alternative practices:

  1. Time out: Ask children to stay in a corner of the house or go to their room. Ideally it should be a space where there are now distractions so the child can reflect on their behavior for three minutes. After time out, explain to the child why their behavior was wrong.

  2. Take away privileges: Considering taking away your child’s privilege to watch TV, play with their favourite toys or attend an activity. Make it clear when privilege can be earned back. Usually, 24 hours is long enough to teach your child to learn from mistake.

  3. Ignore attention seeking behavior: Tell children that begging, pleading or repeatedly asking for something will not get them what they want, and to stop the behavior. Ignore if it persists. The child will recognise the behavior isn’t working and stop.

  4. Teach new skills: When problem arise, don’t rush to solve your children’s problems for them. Instead, help walk them through the problem solving steps and encourage them to solve problems on their own. Don’t automatically give them a solution but prompt them if needed.

  5. Logical consequences: These are techniques that allow " the punishment to fit the crime.” For instance, if a child throws a ball and breaks a lamp, the punishment could be to do chores to earn enough money to pay for a new lamp.

  6. Natural consequences: Natural consequences prepare children for adulthood by helping them think about the potential consequences of their choices. For instance, if you allow a child to leave their toys outside and not pick up after themselves, the natural consequence of his lack of responsibility is that his toy may be ruined by the sun or the rain.

  7. Reward systems: by rewarding and praising good behavior will reinforce correct behavior and the incentive to act accordingly.

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