Parenting Your Child Without Spanking or Hurting Them

Positive parenting is how you guide and teach your child in a way that protects and socializes them to have self-control, be independent, and respect themselves and others.

Sensitive, responsive parenting is the single most important benefit children can receive during their early years.

Learn more positive ways to teach your child by watching Health Nexus Sant√©’s Children See Children Learn video series about positive parenting.

Keep Explanations Short

Tell them why they cannot do certain activities and redirect them to another safe activity. For example, “I understand you like to jump on the couch, it’s not safe. Let’s jump on the floor instead.”

Plan Ahead

By planning ahead, you can avoid situations that may lead to difficult behaviour. For example, plan shopping trips when both you and your child are rested and fed.

Tell Them About Your Plans

Change can be difficult for children. Prepare them by telling them what is going to happen next.

Use Praise & Encouragement

This will help to get your child to behave the way you would like them to.

Deal With Temper Tantrums

Children may get frustrated and have temper tantrums. This is normal behaviour. Stay calm, allow your child to calm down and acknowledge their feelings.

Set Limits With Love

A child can start to understand limits after one year of age. Setting limits and rules can help your child learn to behave. No child will behave the way you want all the time, no matter how well you teach them.

  • Understand your child’s behaviour. Limits will change as your child grows.
  • Explain clearly and repeat as needed:
    1. What they can do
    2. What they cannot do
    3. Why
  • Stay calm when you offer choices, change the activity or surroundings.
  • Plan ahead such as bring snacks when going out.
  • Be consistent and let other caregivers know about the limits.
  • Set family rules that apply to everyone in the home such as not hitting or safety.

Create Family Routines

Children learn best when they have consistent and predictable daily routines such as meals and snacks, waking up, bedtime, or picking up toys after playing. Routines provide a supportive, safe environment for children and promote healthy social and emotional development.

Spanking is not discipline. It is physical punishment and hitting can hurt your child physically, emotionally and socially.

You may be saying to yourself, “I was spanked and I turned out okay.” It could be that you turned out okay in spite of being spanked, not because you were spanked.

In the past, parents did the best they could with what they knew. Today, we know a lot more about how children develop. That’s why more and more parents are choosing not to spank.

Reasons spanking does not work:

  • Your child is more likely to become aggressive. This can lead to other problems, like bullying
  • Your child will fear you rather than respect you. A child who fears a parent may learn to hide behaviour and lie rather than trust that parent to guide and teach.
  • Your child is more likely to think that hitting is a way to solve problems. Spanking doesn’t teach the right lesson. Hitting people is wrong.
  • Spanking can lead to injuries. Spanking may get a quick reaction, but next time you may end up hitting harder. When you’re angry and stressed, it’s easy to injure your child.


There may be times when you may feel overwhelmed and nothing seems to work:

  1. Make sure your child is safe
  2. Remain calm
  3. Step away from the situation for a short time
  4. Try deep breathing
  5. If you feel you may lose control, call a friend, family member or the distress line 416-408-HELP (4357)