25 Effective Ways to Discipline Kids Without Hitting

Gentle parenting is an evidence-based approach to raising happy, confident children. This parenting style is composed of four main elements—empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries—and focuses on fostering the qualities you want in your child by being compassionate and enforcing consistent boundaries. Read more for tips on how to implement it.

If there is anything that I have learned about parenting, it is that children can push you In ways that you never thought possible. As the mother of two small children, I’ve learned A whole new perspective on patience. Because there’s a correlation between poverty and racism, many of us grew up in homes where punishment was harsh. As a result, we never learned the aspects of gentle parenting which contrary to popular belief, is more effective than harsher forms of parenting. Gentle parenting is an evidence-based approach to raising happy, confident children. This parenting style is composed of four main elements—empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries—and focuses on fostering the qualities you want in your child by being compassionate and enforcing consistent boundaries.


Below, I have provided 25 examples to assist you with incorporating gentle parenting into your parenting strategies.


  1. Restructure the environment so as to remove or cut down on temptations for misbehavior. By making the environment more child friendly, you will eliminate opportunities for children to get into trouble which might provoke harsh parenting. For instance, instead of punishing children for playing with your plants, try removing your plants out of the reach of the children so that they won’t be tempted to break the rules and break the plant leaves.
  2. Pay attention to the positives. With so many negative behaviors going on, it can be very challenging to recognize the good. But being intentional about focusing on your child’s qualities, will encourage more of those positive qualities to present themselves.
  3. Give a choice, but be sure both alternatives are acceptable to you. For instance, when it is time to choose a snack and you want your child to eat something healthy, try to offer them an opportunity to choose between an apple and an orange. This is much more effective then asking them what they want to eat for a snack and getting angry with him for choosing chocolate.
  4. Try to establish some physical links to emotional states and specific behaviors. For instance, many children struggle with getting ready for school if they did not get a good nights sleep. Understanding that the physical deprivation of sleep poses a negative barrier for school readiness the next morning can help you to prepare your child and eliminate your Child’s negative behavior when it comes to trying to get ready for school.
  5. Invite the child to help figure out how to deal with the negative behavior. Sometimes, simply asking your child what they think you should do to punish them can be helpful. It helps them to realize that they are wrong and it teaches them that wrong behaviors have consequences. More importantly, it invites them into the disciplinary process, thereby empowering them to make better choices in the future.
  6. Hold a family meeting if other members are involved in or affected by the problem. Children have to be taught how their behavior influences others. Sometimes, just hearing about how the behavior influences other family members can help the child to correct their own behaviors, especially if there are family members that they want to leave a good impression on such as an older sibling or an aging grandparent.
  7. Name the unacceptable behavior. I know that it’s instinctive sometime just to ask a child to stop, but sometimes children don’t even understand what they’re being asked to stop doing. Instead of yelling at a child and telling them to stop, maybe you say something like “ I understand that you want me to hear you right now, but your yelling is preventing me from being able to understand anything that you have to say.“ By explaining to the child what they are doing wrong, it gives them more clarity about what they need to do to get it right.
  8. Examine the environment for unacceptable behavior models the child may be imitating. How well do you know the people that they are hanging around in your absence? Sometimes, children are only doing what they see other people do and when parents don’t pay attention, they miss these vital clues. Children are often repeating things because they don’t know better ways to deal with them.
  9. Remove a privilege as a consequence to the behavior. Try to pick a privilege that is meaningful to the child and has some logical connection to the behavior. For instance, if your child refuses to do their homework, restricting them from watching television would be a great way to reinforce your disapproval of their behavior while still applying discipline.
  10. Tell the child directly what you observe, think, feel, and want, using “I” statements. It is so easy to point the finger at the other person when something is done to cause offense. However, by pointing the finger at the other person, it often puts the entire responsibility on them. Even though our children are people, most of the time who are responsible for the decisions that they make, these decisions are often made within a microcosm of other situations. For instance, your child might be misbehaving because they haven’t learned better skills. By using “I” statements, you are setting an example for taking personal responsibility for how you feel and putting your child on the right track for doing the same. For instance, instead of saying “you never listen to me,” try saying something like “I do not feel that you are listening to me right now. “ Not only does this give you the opportunity to take control of how you feel without blaming a child, but it draws your child into the experience more openly. After all, nobody wants to feel as if they are the cause of all the problems.
  11. Use gentle—not berating—humor to put the situation in a new perspective for the child and yourself. An example of this would be using a little pet name to gently inform your child that they are going down the wrong direction. For instance instead of yelling at your child for not listening, you might want to ask your child something like “ do you have your listening ears on silly goose?“ by using gentle language, you are still sending the message that your child needs to do something different, but you are doing so in a way that they can understand and receive it better.
  12. Examine your own behavior. WAIT! DON’T STOP READING. The truth of the matter is that many of us would rather gauge both eyes out with a ice pit than admit that some of our children’s bad behaviors come from us. But instead of passing judgment, my intention is to validate all parents Imperfections. We as parents, are also imperfect and most of the time we are doing the best we can, even when we make bad choices. But if we are honest, the same could be said for our children. By taking a moment to look at our behaviors and see how they influence our children, we are teaching them the importance of introspection, or the ability to look within to become a better person.
  13. Ignore the problem behavior if it is not dangerous. Just like repeating positive behavior will encourage an increase, ignoring negative behavior will encourage the behavior to decrease. If a kid is talking under their breath but not particularly saying anything threatening, ignoring it takes away their power and shows them that what they’re saying is completely irrelevant to what’s going on around them.
  14. Redirect the child’s attention to another activity. A great example of this is sharing between siblings. If one of your children are trying to take a toy from another child, rather than yelling, you can grab a child that is causing the problem and escort them to another play area or give him another toy. This shows that the importance of not taking things from your sibling, while teaching him how to appropriately saw the situation.
  15. Help the child substitute an acceptable behavior for an unacceptable behavior. One way to do this would be to ask your child how they would recommend respond in a similar situation. For instance, if a child is responding with a negative attitude and is therefore not getting what they want, asking the child to think about what they might tell a friend of theirs might be the perfect solution to helping the child learn to make better choices for themselves.
  16. As a family, establish a list of rules and consequences, and stick to them. If a child feels that they are involved in both the rules and the consequences associated with not following them, they will be more committed to doing the right thing because they’ll feel a part of the process. And then when the rules are violated, they will be very clear about what the consequence should be because they helped to develop it.
  17. Look for causes and deal with them. For every action, there is a reaction. More than likely, your child doesn’t know why they are misbehaving, and they rely on a safe and supportive environment to help you get back on the right path. It requires that we take the time to really figure out what is going on and deal with that issue, instead of constantly blaming our child/children. In fact, I recommend that you take one behavior that you are noticing happening in your home right now and try to figure out why this is happening. Sometimes, this is much easier to do when the behavior is not currently presenting itself, because when it happens in the moment all we want to do is react. But we have a plan in place before the behavior occurs, we can more than likely deal with it appropriately.
  18. Less is more. Sometimes we just don’t need an extensive lecture about what we are doing wrong. Simply stating something to the effect of “ I’m disappointed that you did not clean your room today.” This may be just what your child needs to tap into their own sense of social and moral responsibility, and when a child does something right because it’s the right thing to do, as opposed to because they feel forced to do it, the opportunities for them to promote long-term change increases. Most of the time, our kids don’t want to disappoint us, they just do. By simply letting them know that they have done this, we are honestly giving them our direct opinion, which empowers them to come up with an appropriate solution. That’s what you want for long-term change.
  19. Develop a nonverbal warning system for repetitive bad habits that the child may do without being aware of them. Sometimes, giving your child a look at disapproval is enough to caution your child that what they are doing is wrong and that the behavior needs to be fixed ASAP. Another example could be pointing to the television; assigned that if they continue on this path, he will take their television opportunities away. This technique is particularly useful because it takes away both physical and verbal needs of communication, yet is still quite effective.
  20. Keep a behavior count of the problem behavior and let the child establish a goal of how much to decrease that behavior that week. A good way to go about this is to create a behavior chart for the child. Each day, the child’s behavior can be charted so that they can see it and therefore be consistently reminded about their progress, or lack there of.
  21. Reexamine your expectations. Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves that our children are just children. They don’t have the abilities that we do and if we’re not careful we might overlook what they truly are capable of doing. If your expectations are being set to high for your child, chances are, you both will be frequently frustrated with one another as you will have expectations of them that they cannot achieve and they will be frustrated that they cannot achieve your expectations. Nonetheless, having unreasonable expectations will continue to cause problems for the family.
  22. Use a time-out procedure. This can be done by finding a corner in your home and asking your child to go stand in it. The timeout should prohibit your child from doing anything other than standing at attention during the process it should last for the number of minutes of your child’s age. For instance, a seven-year-old child should be in timeout for seven minutes.
  23. Permit logical consequences. This means that your child understands the natural consequences for the bad behavior. For instance, if you tell your child she can take a family trip if she does well in her schoolwork but she doesn’t do well, she doesn’t still get to go on the trip. The worst thing that you can do informs of punishing your child is to enforce empty consequences for bad behavior. If you permit a child to go on a trip after they proved that they didn’t earn it, it’s going to be hard for your child to trust what you say and fix bad behavior moving forward.
  24. Reward positive behavior with a tangible reinforcer, like a sticker or a favorite snack. This is essentially the element of positive reinforcement which means refers to the introduction of a desirable or pleasant stimulus after a behavior. The desirable stimulus reinforces the behavior, making it more likely that the behavior will reoccur.
  25. Touch. Just like adults, it does feel good to receive a gentle touch. Sometimes, when are we want to do is strangle our child, the best thing we can do for them is hugged him and let him know that we love them. After all, everyone wants to feel cared for and respected even when they are imperfect.

This extensive list, is geared to help you understand better ways to incorporate gentle parenting. Still, nonetheless, gentle parenting can be challenging for individuals who grow up and even the most nurturing environment. If you would like assistance with becoming better at gentle parenting with your child, health is available.

If these 25 tips are insufficient, or you require more work to assist your family with gentle parenting, therapists are available to assist you today.

Contact one of our therapists now.