Discipline Do’s & Don’ts

When NFL player Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse for using a switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. It got many parents talking about spanking. But how do you know when disciplining your child goes too far. 7’s Lynn Martinez gets some expert advice in today’s Parent to Parent.

WSVN — There’s not a parent on the planet who hasn’t been pushed to the limit by their kids.

Donna Clarit: “They were driving me nuts!”

Grandmother Donna Clarit thought her parenting days were over. However, a tragic car accident took the lives of her two daughters, leaving her to raise her grandkids on her own.

Donna Clarit: “I kinda got out of touch with raising kids, being responsible.”

She admits at times, she almost lost it.

Donna Clarit: “I’m not going to say I didn’t have any patience but it was running thin.”

Before things got out of hand, she sought help at the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative in West Coconut Grove. Their goal is to help parents find ways to keep their cool.

Joe King: “Making sure they don’t wait until they’re upset and things escalate to the point they lose their temper.”

Counselor Joe King of Thelma Gibson Health Initiative says a lot of parents think it’s OK to spank a child. He thinks those parents need to get the facts.

Joe King: “Spanking a child is really overrated from the point that it doesn’t really help the child. It builds anger, it builds resentment.”

Counselors here meet with parents, guardians and their kids to teach them a better way to communicate. Joe says every parent should have a plan on how they will handle their kids acting up before tempers flair. He says a good trick is to ask ‘what’ questions not ‘why.’

Joe King: “It’s easy to say, ‘Why were you late?’ It invokes an excuse, so what you want to do is say, ‘What are you going to do next time?'”

And he says it’s not only important to correct bad behavior but you also have to reward good behavior. They have parents use a star chart, so the child can visually see when they have done something right.

Mother of four Iesha Brown also came here when she was at her limit.

Iesha Brown: “There would be points in my life, where I would get so aggravated and so irritated, like you know, I can’t do this.”

She says the positive reinforcement she learned in counseling has really helped.

Iesha Brown: “Because, I don’t want to teach them that violence is the way because it’s not.”

As for Donna, she has a message for other parents.

Donna Clarit: “Ask for help, over and over.”

Lynn Martinez: Don’t be ashamed, every parent struggles with discipline. For more information on programs like these to help families, call the Children’s Trust helpline at 211.