Family counseling advice and 4 key tips for nonviolent parenting

Mar 24, 2015 | Mood


  • I was spanked as a child and I turned out fine.
  • If more parents used corporal punishment, we’d have less crime.
  • I believe in Spare the rod and Spoil the child.
  • I deserved every spanking I got.

Have you said these things?

If our parents hit us, we have deep wounds we do not like to admit. Nobody wants to talk about this problem, but physical punishment hurts us permanently. It’s anything but harmless.

Statements like the ones above come from fear and denial: fear of experiencing outrage and hurt about how we’ve been handled………Denial that we could be perpetuating something terrible by passing down the practice of corporal punishment.

Most of us don’t want to hurt our kids.

But in the heat of the moment, we resort to tactics our parents used on us, even if those practices hurt us. Even if we hated our parents for them at the time. Even if we vowed to do something different with our own kids.

When we make big changes in diet or exercise, we need coaching, meditation, and support. When we make big changes in our parenting practices, we may need parenting therapy to help us calm down and behave rationally. We need practice, encouragement, calming, and ideas.

Consider these alternatives to the use of physical violence to manage your child’s behavior.

  1. Eye Contact. Although it may sound too simple, eye contact has been shown to be a major factor in attachment and emotion management. Children need sustained eye contact, especially in infancy, to develop emotional self-regulation. In later childhood, holding your child’s gaze – while giving him or her a facial expression of love – promotes calming, honesty, and awareness. It also interrupts unwanted behavior. Ask your child to sit across from you as you hold eye contact… need to talk, just gaze.
  2. De-escalation through Softening. When children throw tantrums or get agitated, parents often find themselves yelling or lashing out physically –  in sheer frustration and overwhelm. Do the opposite, with deep intention. Call a time out. Insist that your child sit down and take deep breaths. Do the same for yourself. Talk quietly and slowly about what you see, how it’s unacceptable, and what you expect. Let your child know you expect a change because you love them so much.
  3. Making full use of Resources. Your child values many people and things, and some of these can be leveraged to help him/her learn. Lean heavily on rewards: they have more positive impact than punishment does. Grant extra time on phones or video games. Offer special one-on-one time with you, doing things your child likes to do. Bring in reinforcements, like wise grandparents or your co-parent to help emphasize an important behavior. Tell a story about your childhood and something you had to learn. Offer to demonstrate, help, break big jobs into smaller ones.
  4. Talking about You. Tell your child how it makes you feel when they misbehave. Admit your frustration and worry. Own it. Be clear that these are your emotions. Offer insights. Ask if you’re on track. Talk about what it was like for you to be their age. Talk about your hopes and dreams for them. Talk about why their behavior matters so much

Family counseling is a healthy approach to offering more tips for non violent parenting.  For more information, contact Deborah by clicking on the button below.

For more parenting tips, see the following blog posts:


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