No smacks for brat packs

06 August 2013 - 03:15 By Stephanie Dawson-Cosser, Leonard Carr
A parent hits her child
A parent hits her child

With a government plan to outlaw parents smacking their children, Shrink Wrap and Supernanny offer their expert advice on the most effective ways to discipline your brood


YOUR child is not being naughty - he is exploring and discovering his world. Remove all danger from his vicinity. Be quick to remove him from dangerous situations.

He won't understand< ''No, do not touch", and your tone will upset him . Rather, praise what he does well and interact with him - Stephanie Dawson-Cosser


MAKE your child's environment safe to explore. Distract him or her from unacceptable behaviour.

By age three, the child starts to understand language. Explain unacceptable behaviour calmly and firmly. For example, it's not okay to hit others because it hurts.

Give your child your attention and understanding, and equip him or her with the language to describe emotions and the guidance to apologise when he or she has done wrong. The child will start to learn self-discipline over time. Remain calm and firm. - Stephanie Dawson-Cosser


PARENTS and caregivers need to be very present during the first six years, directing and intervening in their child's daily experiences. By the age of five or six your child should be able to manage simple tasks on his or her own. Praise your child for a job well done.

A good parenting tool is counting to five. Children in this phase need to learn that they have a choice - if they continue with their unacceptable behaviour there will be consequences, like time out, no television, or a toy being temporarily taken away. This gives them a moment to decide whether it is worth continuing, and will teach them self-discipline.

Time out, when used appropriately, can work well. However, the child should only be removed to the time out chair, step or corner for a short period of time (a minute for each year of age). Then he or she should be brought back to the situation to apologise and reintegrate into the group or family space. Admonish the behaviour, not the child.

After time out give the child a hug to show that your relationship is back on track.

Reward good behaviour with a star chart. At the end of the week give a small treat, according to the number of stars earned.

Creating a daily routine makes life calmer and more enjoyable.

What you tell your child must be relevant in the moment, so don't say: ''Just you wait until d ad comes home."

If a child's unacceptable behaviour persists, adjust your disciplining methods.

Understand what makes your child tick and don't compromise your own rules.

If a child is being belligerent, ask yourself why he or she is behaving this way. It may be something that is happening at school, or not enough quality time with mom and dad. If there is a change in the behaviour, act but don't react. - Stephanie Dawson-Cosser


ONCE the foundation of good discipline is laid, the child's behaviour should follow suit.

Seven- to 12-year-olds should be responsible for age-appropriate tasks in the family, like laying the table, cleaning up after themselves and emptying the dishwasher.

Consequences for not following the parent's objectives should be appropriate, like forfeiting a fun activity.

As the child grows, their understanding of right and wrong becomes more sophisticated, so reasons for disciplining actions must be well explained.

Be involved. Share and talk about your child's experiences with them. Behaviour unravels when children don't feel safe and understood. - Stephanie Dawson-Cosser



  • Learn to understand your baby's cries.
  • Involve your toddler in your routine activities.
  • From six months, create a daily routine for your child so he or she knows what to expect next - this develops with maturity but should be predictable. This will help your child feel in control of their day.
  • Use words to express emotion, not physical discipline.
  • Count to five before the consequence of behaviour kicks in.
  • Use time out for an age-appropriate period.
  • Praise and acknowledge good behaviour with words and a star chart.
  • If there is repeated negative behaviour, ask why and determine the root cause.
  • Remove appropriate treats if negative behaviour persists for no obvious reason, for example, no TV or computer time.
  • Parents must act calmly and not react out of anger and frustration. - Stephanie Dawson-Cosser


  • Make amends. Take them through the steps of what they did wrong, ask them how they should fix the situation, and then they need to apologise.
  • Isolation: If teens need a strong dose of discipline, depriving them of a social event will feel very punishing to them.
  • Withdraw privileges: Restrict the use of or temporarily confiscate something important to them, like a cellphone.
  • Pay back damage: Money means a lot to teens. Make them pay back themselves for any material damage.
  • Compensate harm done with labour by giving the teen chores that they do not usually do. - Leonard Carr


CORPORAL punishment teaches violence as a solution to problems. It also teaches that you can use physical violence as a way of getting rid of and expressing anger or frustration. Children do not perceive physical punishment as loving, but rather as persecutory. It therefore breeds mistrust and resentment, which makes the child withdraw emotionally. With this distance the child becomes less open to accepting and learning from your discipline. The worst aspect of corporal punishment is that it instantly evens the score so the child feels relieved of the burden of guilt for destructive actions. They do not learn any moral lesson from it. - Leonard Carr