MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Adrian Peterson case has opened up a national conversation about how to respond when a child misbehaves.
On Monday, Peterson released a statement saying in part, “I’m not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser.”
Since the indictment came to light last Friday, many people have weighed in on Peterson’s decision to “whoop” his child with a switch after the 4-year-old apparently hit another child.
It’s an issue that evokes wide-ranging opinions — everything from those who believe being hit by a belt or a paddle helped make them who they are today, to those who would never dream of something like a smack on the butt.
So, what is the best way to discipline a child?
“A look from my father was sufficient,” said Brian Johnson of Minneapolis.
Marilyn Freberg of Woodbury says time outs and TV restrictions worked in the past.
“Now it would be no phone,” Freberg said.
Parenting Coach Toni Schutta says there’s no one kind of discipline that works for every family, child or even age range.
“What you want to look at is what are my values? What am I trying to teach my child? What is my personality? And what is my child’s temperament,” she said.
Schutta, founder of Get Parenting Help Now, is a licensed psychologist who worked with abused children for ten years.
She promotes what she calls positive discipline methods. Using the example of children fighting over the television, she laid out four of those ideas.
1. Problem Solving: “Say ‘What’s the problem? OK kids, let’s put our heads together and come up with three good solutions. What’s your idea?'”
2. Praise: “I could decide five times a day I’m going to praise my children when they get along. Kids work hard for praise, and so if we use that strategically, guess what? They’re going to start doing more of that behavior.”
3. Structuring: “If there’s a recurring problem, you could say: How can we prevent this from happening? For example, we could sit them down and say, ‘Let’s come up with a schedule.'”
4. Rewards: “You could use TV as a reward. ‘When your homework is done and chores are complete, then you get 30 minutes of TV viewing.’ TV isn’t just a given, but can be set up as a privilege.”
Schutta says the bedrock to discipline is consistency and following through on what you say.
“You have to stick to that so they know you mean business,” Freberg said.
When it comes to spanking or any kind of corporal punishment, 70 percent of Americans say spanking is an acceptable form of punishment, down from 86 percent in 1986. That’s according to the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey.
But Schutta never recommends any kind of corporal punishment. She says the research is clear: Hitting kids gives them a higher likelihood of aggression, anti-social behavior, criminal behavior and mental health problems.
“What tends to happen is that the child remembers the swat, so it may stop the behavior temporarily, but it isn’t a long-term solution,” Schutta said. “The child remembers the swat, they don’t remember what they did wrong. And you’ve taught them no corrective behavior on how to make those changes.”
For more of Schutta’s parenting tips, visit her Facebook page.