5 Non-Spanking and Incredibly Brilliant Ways to Discipline Kids


Spanking is a sensitive subject. I’ve talked to a lot of moms about this, and some of them say, “My parents spanked me, and I’m just fine.” And then there are those horrified moms who reply, “Spanking only teaches violence.” But no matter what side you’re on, it doesn’t hurt to have a few creative tricks up your sleeve to turn a child around quickly. Here are five of the most unique (and incredibly brilliant) methods I’ve been able to find:

1) Use a spray bottle.

I heard about this one last week from a writing friend, and she swears by it–and yes, it works for cats, too. She says that her preschooler and kindergartner don’t like water in their faces, so even the threat of being squirted in the face makes them leap up and obey. 

In the case of teenagers, though, you may want to prepare for the possibility of having that squirt bottle turned on you–so unless you want to start a water fight, consider another method for the older ones.

2) Sweep the concrete.

My husband once told me about a family whose driveway and sidewalks were the cleanest in the city. That was because their disciplining method involved sweeping until the children were ready to obey. This sounds like a constructive way to do things, and a boring one at that (which means it wears a child down quickly). Of course, if it’s snowing outside, you may want to switch the broom for a shovel.

3) The Slave Method.

We actually follow this one, and it’s mentioned in my motherhood book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces. When my kids ignore me or continue to argue, I give them a choice: an extra chore, or they can be my slave for five minutes. If they choose the slave option, they have to do whatever I say–from cartwheels to sprints around the yard to sanitizing doorknobs.

It’s a great way to distract from the negative behaviors and encourage the positive. On occasion I’ll make one child be a slave to the other if there’s hitting or naughty words involved, and it usually has them both laughing and apologizing by the end. 

4) Get out and walk.

“Don’t make me turn this car around!” It’s a familiar threat, and one that our kids eventually learn to ignore. There is an easier way to do it, though, and I watched a friend do it in real life once. (She says it only took one time because it worked so well.)

When the fighting in the backseat resembles WWF more than a loving family  (and if your kids are old enough and if you’re within a mile of your house), pull over and tell them to get out and walk home. It should only take one trip to teach that lesson really quick–especially during the winter! 

If your kids are younger, or if you’re not within range of home, simply pull over and sit quietly. They’ll soon realize that the car doesn’t move when there’s fighting going on, and you won’t have to say a word.

5) Chores for chores.

If you’re house cleaning and the kids are underfoot, say, “If you’re going to be in here with me, you need to clean with me.”  The younger kids will usually take me up on the offer. It is harder to get things done this way, but this accomplishes several things: 1) Your child gets to spend time with you, which she probably wanted all along; 2) The child learns how to clean, which is GREAT; 3) You’re still getting things done; and 4) The child isn’t getting into trouble somewhere else. 

If your kids are older and too cool to clean with Mom, they’ll disappear so fast you won’t know what happened. Which is also GREAT.

These are only five methods, but there are probably a thousand ways to do it. I think the best mothers that I know use a variety of methods, and even they have their bad days. But just the fact that you’re reading this tells me that you’re a lot like me–struggling, but still trying.

Don’t give up, and don’t forget to have fun! Even the smartest disciplining techniques don’t laughter and silliness on occasion. Do you have a great discipline method? Please comment. I’d love to hear it.



8 responses »

  1. Ignore. When you consider 3/4 of misbehaviour is to get attention, say no once and then ignore it – of course if they’re going to hurt themselves or break something expensive this isn’t an option. But otherwise, it really does work.

  2. I seriously have had #2, 4 and 5 done to me as a child, but I can tell you #2 REALLY got my goat as a teenager! My dad made me sweep and then scrub the driveway to our house once for some offense, and I was so mad because it was so pointless, but it WORKED! Only had to do it once. 🙂 My favorite punishment is the “You can either choose to do what I’m telling you, or you can choose to do a chore and THEN do what I’m telling you.” Also currently being employed at my house is the wall sit/squat. If you get caught lying, you have to do a wall sit for 1-2 minutes. I’ve found that the physical engagement really drives home the point more than a lecture or a time out or anything like that, and it’s short and sweet and uncomfortable. 🙂

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