NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Seven out of 10 parents currently use spanking as a form of discipline but many dads today say hitting their child is not an option.
“Definitely no spanking or hitting and no timeouts. It’s more about actually sitting with them and just kind of leading them or walking them through whatever emotions they were going through until the situation is just kind of diffused and calmed down,” said father Steven Reda.
As a stay-at-home dad to two young daughters, keeping the peace without a spanking is a full time job for Reda.
“It’s more effort, it takes a lot more time, but after a while we could kind of see our oldest daughter, start to walk herself through it,” added Reda.
Father Michael Sagmeister said his 3 year old Noah has his moments.
“I think a lot of the discipline part has been about me learning about myself, and sometimes calming down a little bit, and knowing that he feeds off of my emotions, too, knowing how to handle that,” said Sagmeister.
Reda and Sagmeister belong to a dad’s group called NashDad, a group that meets every week at Middle Tennessee playgrounds to play and discuss fatherly issues.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says spanking can lead to behavior problems like aggression and later in life, anxiety and depression.
“Instead of saying to a parent ‘don’t spank,’ let’s say if one child hits another, let’s consider these twenty different options, we know that some options are great, we know that some options are good after others have been tried, and some options you really just shouldn’t use,” said Dr. Scholer.
Dr. Scholer has created the Play Nicely program, which is designed to help parents discipline without spanking. He said to make sure your kids clearly know the rules and what is expected of them. When it comes to toddlers, taking a positive approach to changing their behavior is recommended.
“I would say that the one thing that you want to emphasize with a preschool child is the power of redirecting, and teaching them what they can do instead of what they can’t and if you can consistently do that, although it takes a lot more time to do it, you’ll end up reaping a lot of benefits down the road,” continued Dr. Scholer.
Nathan Schmitz thinks some dads underestimate how much their young children understand.
“I’ve found that if I get down to his level, make him stop what he’s doing and talk to me, he understands,” said Schmitz. “And we can still talk about it now. ‘Do you remember that time you went in timeout at the zoo, what did you do?’ And he’ll tell you. He’ll tell you the story.”
Most parents say the terrible twos aren’t that terrible but to beware the wrath of the “three-nager.”