It doesn’t matter if you’re super mom or dad of the year, there will be times as a parent when disciplining children is absolutely necessary. It’s part of the job. It’s up to parents and guardians to teach kids the proper way to behave and the difference between right and wrong. However, the manner in which parents should discipline children has been up for debate for decades.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opposes spanking as punishment for children, stating that “spanking models aggressive behavior as a solution to conflict and has been associated with increased aggression in preschool and school-aged children.” But, according to some research, yelling also can be detrimental to a child’s well being.

The University of Pittsburgh released a study in 2014, which found “harsh verbal discipline from parents to be damaging to developing adolescents.” The results also supported that the negative effects of verbal discipline within the two-year period of the study were similar to the effects exhibited over the same period of time in other studies on physical discipline. Researchers found that children suffered increased levels of depression and were more likely to demonstrate behavioral problems such as aggression and antisocial behavior.

So how should parents effectively discipline their children without yelling and giving a ruthless tongue-lashing? Check out these tips for positive discipline and leave the hollering behind.

  1. Stop the battle before it even starts. Children are creatures of habit, just like anyone else. So, begin by recognizing patterns in their behavior and when you see the negative behavior coming on, intervene by redirecting it. Aggression in children typically needs redirection. For instance, if a child is throwing a fit over not getting to play with a toy they want, they may need to be taken outside for a bike ride.
  2. Set rules. Create a list of family rules but be sure to keep them simple. Post the rules somewhere the family can easily read them, such as on the refrigerator or in the playroom. Also, discuss rules together as a family and reiterate those rules by discussing them frequently.
  3. Use consequences that make sense. Teach children responsibility by enforcing consequences that logically relate to the negative act or behavior. For example, if your child breaks another child’s toy, have him or her replace it with their allowance or by earning money through completing extra chores around the house.
  4. Be kind yet firm. When your kid is acting up, bend down to their level, make eye contact, touch him or her gently and in a short sentence, tell them what you want them to do. Example: “I want you to quit yelling.”
  5. Walk away from the fight. You may be pushed to the breaking point if your child begins to back talk or mouth off. When your child begins acting this way, keep calm and simply walk away. Don’t leave the room upset or in defeat. Instead, let them know that you will be in the next room when they are ready to talk in a respectful manner.
  6. Create a chore chart. It’s important for children to learn responsibility at an early age and assigning chores is a common method for teaching life skills. However, getting kids to wash the dishes or take out the trash is often a source of conflict in families. Nagging children about completing their chores isn’t always productive and can sometimes make matters worse. Make a chore chart that specifically lists each child’s tasks around the house and this will excuse you from having to nag them to do their work. Post it somewhere easily visible and if they don’t do what they are supposed to do, remove privileges or allowance (see page 33 for more on chore charts).
  7. Last Resort: Corrective Discipline or Negative Consequences When you have tried everything but your son or daughter still is disobedient, put them in time-out or impose consequences such as having them clean out the garage or remove extracurricular activities and toys until they listen.
  8. Control yourself. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so don’t be hard on yourself. You won’t always be able to refrain from yelling, but learning to control your reaction can help you maintain composure and will also set a positive example to children. When you feel your nerves and patience wearing thin, take a few deep breaths and quietly count to 10.

Sources: positiveparenting.com; childrensmd.org