Safe Children Bright Futures


Discipline Without Hurting

Parents discipline their children to teach them how to behave, be safe and get along with other people. Be ready to comfort your child when the anger turns to tears.

What Is Physical Punishment?

Hurting children to control their behaviour. Physical punishment includes hitting, slapping, kicking, strapping, belting, caning, hair-pulling, pinching, etc. 

Why Do Parents Use Physical Punishment?

Some parents believe that physical punishment is a good way to teach children. Hitting often has an immediate effect. We believe there are better ways to teach children than by hurting them.

Our parents physically punished many of us when we were children. Spanking was more accepted in the past than it is today. Some parents hit their children because they are angry and have lost their temper.

What Is Wrong With Physical Punishment?
  • Hitting might have an immediate effect but it does not teach children self-control
  • Parents who hit might have to hit harder the next time to get the same result
  • Repeated or severe physical punishment can hurt your child, physically and emotionally
  • Physically punished children are more aggressive and often have more problems in school
  • Physical punishment teaches children that hitting people is OK
  • Hitting also teaches children to be afraid and hide what they are doing from you
  • Physical punishment can lead to injury and abuse. It is easy to lose control and hurt someone when we are angry

How Can I Teach My Children Good Behaviour?

  • Be prepared to work at it!
  • Children often misbehave to test the limits and learn what they can get away with
  • Teaching good behaviour takes time and patience
  • Talk and listen to your child. Trust and communication are even more important as children grow older

How Can I Prevent Misbehaviour?

Getting Started
  • Make your home a safe place for your child to play in and explore
  • Keep forbidden and dangerous objects out of the reach of young children
  • Take toys and snacks when going out
  • Do not let your child get too hungry, tired or bored
Make Fair And Simple Rules
  • Set clear limits on your child’s behaviour with a few simple rules
  • Focus on safety—rules should allow children to explore and learn in a safe way
  • Make sure your child understands what you expect
  • Explain the reason for the rule if the child is old enough to understand
  • Listen to what your child tells you
Be Positive
  • Focus on what to do, instead of what not to do
  • Positive language makes it more likely that children will respond positively
  • Instead of saying “You cannot watch television until you finish your schoolwork” try saying “You can watch television after you finish your schoolwork”
  • Teasing, name-calling and insults can hurt as much as hitting. Do not compare your child negatively to other children 
Give Children Time To Respond
  • Children do not like to stop doing things they enjoy
  • Give children a chance to prepare for change by saying: “In five minutes, it will be time to turn off the television and start your schoolwork”
Reward Correct Behaviour
  • Praise and encourage your children when they behave—for example “I like it when you help your little sister”
  • Show your approval with hugs, kisses and smiles
  • Make sure that good behaviour gets more of your attention than bad behaviour
 Be A Good Role Model
  • Live what you teach…for example—it does not make sense to hit a child for hitting someone else
Ignore Minor Incidents
  • Learn to accept some noise, clutter and attention-seeking behaviour
  • Remember…mistakes happen!

What To Do If Your Child Misbehaves

With Babies
  • Never shake or toss a baby, even playfully. A baby’s neck is weak and shaking can result in brain damage or death
  • Respond to your baby’s crying. Babies cry to communicate their needs, such as for food, comfort or a clean diaper
  • Develop a daily routine around feeding, sleeping and play to help your baby feel safe and secure
  • Encourage your baby to trust you; show your love and affection; cuddle, talk and sing to your baby
  • Babies are too young to understand limits and rules
With One And Two Year Olds

Remind — young children have short memories. Gently remind them about the rules to help them learn

Distract — give your child a toy or another activity  

Gentle Touch and Tantrums — if your child begins to lose control, move close and put your arm around the child. (This is also a good way to deal with hitting, biting, or kicking) if necessary, gently hold your child with just enough force to keep the child from getting hurt. If holding makes the child more angry, then let go, remain calm and wait until your child calms down. This might be hard to do but it often works tantrums are frightening for children comfort or a clean diaper

With Three And Four Year Olds


  • If your child is frustrated and unable to solve a problem, try a different activity
  • For example, take a child outside for some physical activity


  • Let children experience the consequences of their actions if it is safe to do so. For example, ”if you cannot play with the blocks without throwing them, the blocks will be put away.” Then follow through and put the blocks away if the child continues to throw them
  • If your child is doing something that is unsafe, you can explain the consequences later, but remove your child from danger immediately

Time Out
Time out is when a parent removes a child from a situation for refusing to follow the rules. It can be effective with children between the ages of 2 and 12.

  • Take your child to a safe, quiet place where the child can calm down and regain control
  • Briefly explain that you are having a time out because of the child’s misbehaviour. Do not argue or discuss at this point
  • When the child feels ready to try again (or when five minutes have passed), bring the child back to play
  • Praise the child’s first acceptable behaviour after time out

With Older Children
Problem-solving and making choices help prepare children for their teenage years.
Offer Choices

  • Choices help children learn how to make decisions. Offer simple choices, but do not threaten. For example, “You can wash the dishes or dry them. You decide.”

Teach Problem-Solving

  • Help your child to define the problem. Ask questions, such as “What would happen if you tried to….?”
  • Together, think of solutions
  • Choose the best one
  • Try it
  • Afterwards, talk about what worked and what you could try next time

Solve Problems Together

  • As children approach the teen years, they still need clear limits but parents should be willing to negotiate a little
  • When children start thinking for themselves, their talking back may anger you. However, to keep communicating, parents must do more listening and more explaining with older children
  • Talk to the parents of your child’s friends about reasonable limits on clothing and curfews
  • Work with your children to solve problems together