‘The Alternative To Smacking’ Checklist.

Like it? Share it!

As France bans parents from hitting their children & England  discusses it. The debate rages on….

If you have just entered into a disciplinary arms race with your kids, then smacking is NOT the answer.

Parenting doesn’t have to be a battle.

Using positive discipline, you CAN teach your kids to behave without threats, bribes, yelling and physicality.

It’s not wishy washy, it’s not being toooooo liberal. It’s about instilling firm, fair and consistent discipline and boundaries that teaches your child to regulate themselves over time as they grow, develop and mature and you DON’T need to hit them to teach them.

Download and keep my ebook > The Alternative to Smacking Checklist



Here are 7 tips that will set you on the path to better behaviour—and a stronger, more respectful connection with your child.

1.Become a Sherlock Holmes detective and try to understand the meaning behind your child’s behaviour. As a former Deputy Head, Class teacher and parent myself for 25 years I believe children want to behave well and to please you. If they mess up, make mistakes or get things wrong then it’s about ‘Talking & Teaching’ them how to learn from that mistake and get it right next time. The most important thing is to realise that whatever a child does, we may label it as ‘bad’, but really your child is often doing the best they can. It’s about separating the behaviour from the love you always have for your child. You don’t like the behaviour but you love your child.

If your child appears wilful then it’s about changing your approach and seeing them as striving for more independence – and asking yourself ‘What could I do differently to get the behaviour I’m trying to teach my child is acceptable?’ Are you too domineering, controlling or do you have too many rules? I once worked with a lovely mum who had 35 house rules pinned up on the back on her kitchen door and the kids were resentful, frustrated and angry about them as they were only 3 and 5 years old at the time. It’s our job as parents to find out why they are doing that behaviour. Once you know the root of the behaviour, you can easily remove the cause, look for the trigger or heal the emotions, and the child won’t be driven to behave in that way anymore.

So, ask yourself: is your child hitting their sibling in a desperate bid for your attention? Maybe you stayed on your mobile phone too long or ignored them as you rushed to get out the door to work on time. If so, what small change can you make to your own behaviour that will satisfy your child’s need? Ponder ….. that a lot of what we expect of children is unreasonable. E.g. sitting for an hour at the table in a restaurant after they have finished eating…..

2.Focus on controlling yourself—not your child. It’s hard to keep calm and collected in the heat of the moment, so press an imaginary ‘PAUSE’ button like on your remote control and take a physical step back to detach yourself for a few moments from the situation. Then ask yourself a better question….. ‘Is what I’m going to say now going to bring me closer to or further away from my child in the long run. What are they going to learn from what I’m going to do next?

You need to model the types of behaviour you want your children to emulate.

Remember, shouting begets shouting, hitting begets hitting.

Try not to do anything in front of your children that you don’t want them to do.

You are their primary role model in everything you do and say and in how you act so pause to ponder that…..

Anger and frustration feed misbehaviour so make sure you get plenty of ‘Me Time’ so you are more patient, kind and tolerant.

3.Be consistent with your expectations. Lots of parents that I work with often overlook a certain behaviour in the hope that it will pass. But guess what? It doesn’t! If your child bites another child, for instance, you should hold them at arm’s length, get down to their eye level and tell them in a firm voice that the behaviour is not acceptable. If they continue, then it is time to remove them from the situation.

It’s about putting in the energy and time at the beginning so in the long term your parenting is easier.

Kids thrive on firm, fair, respectful, consistent boundaries.

So, grab a piece of paper and jot down what is/ what isn’t acceptable behaviour to you – then chat it through with your partner and then ( the most important bit that parents forget or leave out) let your kids know what those rules are !

Sometimes your child might try to test the limits by arguing with your rules. So neutralise your negotiations by repeating one simple mantra as often as necessary: “I love you too much to argue.”

4.Shift your focus. Give attention to the behaviour you like—not the behaviour you don’t. Children often act up because they want your attention, so sometimes it pays to ignore those actions you don’t want to see more of. ‘Water the flowers, not on the weeds” principle. Tantrums and whining? Play deaf or walk away, and your child will quickly learn that there’s a better way to communicate. No match – no game.

5.Redirect, redirect, redirect. Kids who hear “No” or “Don’t” all the time tend to tune those directives out. And switch off. So instead of telling your child what not to do, offer a positive behaviour to replace the misbehaviour. For instance, if your child acts up at the supermarket get them to help you weigh the bananas, or find the spaghetti or if your child consistently runs around a swimming pool make it a game by challenging them to walk “as if they are walking on marshmallows.” Get creative, get playful and get a bit of humour and lightness into your rules.

  1. Use my ‘That was Easy’ Technique


7. Don’t bribe. It may be tempting to offer your child sweets for behaving well during an outing, but offering a child a reward sends the wrong message; what kids hear is “‘You don’t want to be very good and you have to be bribed to do what is really just expected of you.’

I always say children spell love T-I-M-E and that is the best reward for your child regardless of their age. Quality time is key to a happy, well-behaved child.

Your kids are the most important people in your life so spend at least 15 minutes one-on-one connecting with your child every day. Do something your child wants to do during that time. Whisper in their ear how wonderful they are, how much you love them. … It’s the best investment you can make in your child. It will build memories that will last a lifetime, enhance your child’s self-worth and build their self-esteem.

What better gift can you give them?

Parents in France no longer have the right to smack their children after new law comes into force – and Britain is under mounting pressure to follow suit

  • French couples now have to promise not to smack children when getting wed
  • The law has banned the use of ‘all cruel, degrading and humiliating treatment’
  • The UK, Italy and the Czech Republic are the only EU countries without a law

Read more:

Related Articles

The Sue Atkins

Parenting Show

Discussing every possible aspect of parenting, giving you advice and support on topics which affect your daily life. Each free, weekly episode is bursting with practical tips, techniques and ideas.

Hi, I'm Sue Atkins

I will teach you my no-nonsense, simple techniques & give you hundreds of my expert parenting articles, videos & podcasts so you can get back to the business of having fun with your family!

As Seen or heard in