With the long-term negative effects of spanking once again in the news, Ariadne Brill, a certified positive discipline parenting educator, and creator of Positive Parenting Connection (not to mention, mom of three), offers parents tips to keep their cool and avoid power struggles -- using positive parenting techniques.

Skip spanking

Recently, Pediatrics published a study on physical punishment in childhood being associated with increased odds of mental health issues in adulthood, including anxiety, mood disorders, alcohol and drug abuse. While some parents may think spanking works in the short-term, Brill underscores the study saying, "The cost of physical punishment is creating fear, breaking trust, modeling aggression and risking mental health issues later in life."

"It's been known for decades that spanking is detrimental. Parents need alternatives that are safe and effective," Brill added. "With positive parenting, children feel encouraged, learn by example and develop self-discipline which can ultimately lead to healthy and resilient families."

Power struggles

Brill notes that when parents stop focusing on winning battles or being right, and instead focus on cooperation and connecting with their children, power struggles tend to stay away. Here are three tips to get you started:

Choices vs. threats


Instead of threats (taking away a privilege or a toy, which can ultimately create resentment), melt away power struggles by offering choices. Choices can be limited and still give parents and the child some say in what is being agreed on.

Tip^ For a toddler, it could be the choice between holding hands or being carried to cross the street. For a teen, let them decide if they'll first put away their laundry, then do their homework (or the other way around).

Help vs. demand


Ever ask your child to do something and they just don't budge? You ask again, then you insist, you raise your voice and next thing you know your blood is boiling (and they're still not moving). Next time, to avoid struggles and still get what you want, offer to help get the task started.

Tip^ If your preschooler isn't helping with clean-up time, try something like, "Why don't we each pick up three toys? I'll start with these right here."

Deal vs. bribe


Have you been so desperate to get your child to comply that you resorted to bribing them? The problem is, bribes set up parents and children to engage in power struggles over and over again. Instead, skip bribes and validate your child's feelings by striking a deal.

Tip^ If your child pushes back on running errands try something like, “I get that running errands can be boring and you'd rather be home. I can't leave you here alone. We're going to run errands as a family. What would you like to do when we get home? Play a puzzle or a game together?”

Follow through on your end of the deal and your child will learn that what you asked for isn't the end of the world because their needs are also being considered.

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Christina Holt July 16, 2012
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Follow-through is the most important things parents often forget or ignore due to schedules or because they think the kids will forget.
Kristin Bustamante July 16, 2012
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I'll admit, I'm not a fan of the whole "let's make a deal" theory with your kids. Talking through things is great, but there have to be certain non-negotiables, and they also have to know that not everything is up for discussion.