5 ways to discipline children without caning or hitting

February 27, 2017
  • Discipline rules
    1 / 8 Discipline rules

    You can raise a disciplined child without resorting to the rotan (cane). Dr Melanie Storry Chan, a psychologist and director of VanSing Educational & Psychological Consultants, offers the following alternatives.  

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  • Set up a naughty chair or timeout corner
    2 / 8 Set up a naughty chair or timeout corner

    The child must stay there for five to 10 minutes on her own. It allows her to think about what she has done. 

    Related: Should you discipline someone else’s child: 7 rules that work

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  • Remove privileges
    3 / 8 Remove privileges

    The child will not be allowed to play her computer games for a week, or go to the playground in the evening. Make your threats real and realistic.  

    Related: Discipline toddler: 14 secrets only teachers know



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  • Explain why the behaviour is unacceptable
    4 / 8 Explain why the behaviour is unacceptable

    For example, if she throws a tantrum because she does not want to do her homework, find out why. After that, go through with her the possible scenarios that will happen because of that. For instance: “Oh, then you can’t get another lovely star from your teacher, right?”   

    Related: Mum or dad: who should discipline the kids?

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  • Do it over
    5 / 8 Do it over

    This is like role-play. If the child whines “Give me a drink! I’m thirsty!”, you can reply: “That was not a polite way to ask – do it over”. This gives the child an opportunity to think about her earlier behaviour and choose a more appropriate approach.

    Related: Why you should discipline your one-year-old

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  • Reward good behaviour
    6 / 8 Reward good behaviour

    Give her a star every time she behaves, so she can stick it up on a chart. This will not only make her feel good about herself, but also assure her that you are pleased with her behaviour.

    Related story: Discipline your child without screaming? Here’s how you do it

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  • If you must cane
    7 / 8 If you must cane

    Geraldine Tan, chief psychologist with The Therapy Room, has worked with parents who use the cane “as a last resort”. Here is her advice on when to cane or not:


    When you are angry The child only sees that you have lost control of the situation, and fails to understand why she is punished. The mistake is, therefore, very likely to occur again, leading to further confusion and a vicious cycle. 

    When you try to instil fear The child will begin to view aggression as the only solution to problems. She will also grow up angry and rebellious. 

    Related: Is there a right way to discipline your child?

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  • Explain the reason for caning
    8 / 8 Explain the reason for caning

    Explain the reason for the punishment
     The child needs to understand why she is being punished, and why with the cane. 

    Ensure consistency. Establish an agreement with your spouse, parents and the child’s caregiver on the consistency of the caning.  For example, if he throws a tantrum, he will receive a scolding. If he pushes a classmate, he will be caned. Otherwise, the child will learn not to respect caning as a form of discipline.  

    Only when you can control the intensity of the force Avoid using a belt or a whip, or an item that you feel may inflict great pain.

    (Photos: 123RF.com) 

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