Behaviour management & discipline strategies – advice for practitioners
Physical punishment is using any physical force to punish a child for wrongdoing. There is no justification for smacking or physically punishing children.
We know that physical punishment or chastisement of children and young people can have a very detrimental effect on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Physical punishment, such as smacking, slapping, pushing or hitting with an implement can cause:
- direct physical harm or injury such as bruises, cuts, reddening of the skin, scratches, swelling or even broken bones
- mental harm such as anxiety, isolation, feeling victimised, damage to self-esteem, or a reduction in confidence
- increased risk of anti-social behaviour from the child
- increased aggression in children including fighting with siblings, friends and using violence to seek attention
- increased violent and criminal behaviour in adulthood
- an acceptance that violence is OK and it is fine to use force to get your own way, if you are annoyed with someone or if they have hurt you
- breakdown in family relationships, with resentment that could affect the relationship between parents and children into their adulthood.
There is no justification for inflicting pain on a child or young person as a parent (or any other adult carer).
Any form of physical punishment that leaves a mark on a child or young person is considered an assault and is illegal under the Section 58 of the Children Act 2004 (S47 of Offences Against the Person Act 1861) and can result in a conviction and custodial sentence of up to 5 years. It is also against the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child (Article 19).
Behaviour Management and Discipline Strategies
This advice has been developed for practitioners when working with families – it can act as a prompt for practitioners on how to address inappropriate punishment and to explain the harmful effects of physical punishment.
We know that children and young people need:
- love, affection and warmth
- talking, listening and positive praise
- guidance and understanding.
But we also know that they can behave in negative ways from time to time and need:
- a safe and structured environment
- limits and boundaries
- consistency and consequences.
There are some general positive discipline strategies which are alternatives to physically punishing a child or young person. These can include:
- ignoring behaviour that you do not want to see (unless of course there is a safety reason) so a child doesn’t get rewarded with your attention
- having clear and consistent rules and boundaries, with consequences if they are broken which are stuck to!
- rewarding positive behaviour with your attention, praise, a hug and small treats
- being assertive and using statements such as “I feel really disappointed when you ….”.
Being a good example to a child is important. If adults are violent either to them or another adult, this sends a message that this behaviour is OK and they are more likely to be violent themselves.
Parenting Programmes in Manchester
There are a range of parenting programmes that can help parents with guidance, support and practical solutions to dealing with behavioural issues and other parenting issues.
Early Help Parenting Team (EHPT)
EHPT is a specialist, city-wide team of practitioners who deliver evidence-based parenting interventions to families with children aged from 2 to 16 years. The team also provide additional support to families between group sessions, including help with implementing parenting strategies.
The Team use a strengths based multi-agency approach, focusing on empowering and enabling parents and carers to learn and change, developing their self-awareness and the confidence to try positive parenting approaches. They appreciate that every family is unique, and welcome all types of families from diverse cultures, ethnicity and backgrounds. At the heart of their work is improving the relationship between parents/carers and their children, as well as between the family and community.
For more information and details of how to make a referral visit Help & Support Manchester at hsm.manchester.gov.uk
Family Lives is a registered charity that has three decades of experience of supporting parents to achieve the best possible relationship with their children. They want parents to be empowered and equipped with key skills to deal with parenting challenges.
Details of their Parents Together Online – Training Course for parents whose children are struggling with a variety of behaviour issues can be found on Help & Support Manchester at hsm.manchester.gov.uk
Find out more about Family Lives and access information and advice on coping with behaviour according across different ages and stages on their website www.familylives.org.uk and via their Helpline tele: 0808 800 2222
NHS Choices provides information on-line on dealing with child behaviour problems on their website www.nhs.uk