Here are some examples: Sarcastic or belittling looks and remarks, sometimes in the form of teasing, unrealistic expectations about your child’s behavior, such as expecting him to sit still for a long time, name calling, threats of abandonment, depriving a child of basic needs such as food, water, or sleep, shaking a baby or toddler when you are frustrated or angry, long time-outs away from other people, slapping fingers or spanking parts of the body with the palm of your hand, a belt, or another object, and believing and acting as though your child is “out to get you”.
Negative discipline may temporarily stop a child’s misbehavior, but it seldom helps a child learn why her behavior was wrong. It does not show her how she can help herself behave in a better way. A child may instead learn from her parent’s behavior to be secretive, belittle other people or call them names, or threaten.
She may try to see what she can get away with. She will learn that screaming and hitting are ways to get what she wants. Negative looks and remarks, sometimes passed off as teasing or joking, are likely to damage a child’s view of herself. Young children are usually not able to understand this kind of adult humor.
Negative discipline may damage a child’s trust in her parents. It also may leave the child with feelings of powerlessness, fear, hurt, anger, or hopelessness. The result may be resentment and bitter memories that will last a long time.
Negative discipline can cause physical injuries such as bruises, pulled muscles, and broken bones. Never shake a baby! Severely shaking babies may result in neck whiplash, back and other bone injuries, paralysis, permanent brain damage, and sometimes death.
Recent research tells us that high stress brought about by frequent negative discipline can harm the brain development of babies and toddlers. This harm can cause learning and behavior problems for the child. Remember, keep discipline positive.