NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Spanking, yelling, threatening, humiliating and punitive discipline are five ways parents try to change their child’s behavior. But, it may actually accomplish the opposite of the intent, according to a local doctor.
Dr. Eric Scholer, professor at the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), wanted to flip the script by developing a program that focuses on healthy discipline.
He said it’s based on one question.
“The question is really a hypothetical one that is given to all parents, and that is, assume you see one young child hit another one or hurt another child. What are you going to do?”
Dr. Scholer said how parents respond has a great impact on their child’s behavioral maturity.
“It’s early childhood aggression is one of the strongest risk factors for problem behavior, conduct behavior, even violence later on in life.”
Researchers have been working to develop healthy strategies for parents to use and feel confident steering their kids in the right direction. Dr. Scholer and his team came up with 20.
“We found in our research that most parents, if they go through the 20 options, they pick up at least a strategy response or two that they might be able to use in their own home with their own children.”
Perhaps, according to the doctor, the most effective method of disciplining children is called re-directing.
“The whole idea is not just to say ‘no, no, no,’ and put a child into timeout, or yell at them, or spank them, but rather, give them some options in terms of what they might be able to do in a more useful way the next time they get upset, or frustrated, or angry.”
The program is called, Play Nicely. It’s available at no cost through Vanderbilt, and it takes less than an hour to learn.
“It only takes you 20-25 minutes to go through those. And it very quickly gets parents on board with some healthy discipline options.”
The bottom line is disciplining children can become very productive moments in their overall development that will payoff for a lifetime.
“This is a lot of this is about building those healthy relationships early on and so hopefully, it’ll be just overall healthier children later on in life.”
To learn about the Play Nicely program and watch the video, click on this link.