'Everyone can learn to parent without hitting and still maintain clear discipline and limits,' says Jeff Sanders, Chief Executive of Relationship Services. 'Many New Zealanders find ways of parenting that don't involve hitting. We want to help more people to do this,' he says.
In an average week Relationship Services counsellors work with over 200 people throughout New Zealand who are dealing with issues of violence, anger and abuse.
'Every day our counsellors work with people who are current or past victims of violence, or are perpetrators of violence. New Zealand's high levels of violence are a real blight on our country.'
Relationship Services works with many parents who want to manage their children's behaviour without resorting to physical force. 'Parents want their children to be safe, especially in their own home,' says Mr Sanders. 'Not everyone has a clear idea of how to make that a reality for their kids' he says.
'Parents in that situation can work with our counsellors to find out what will work in their family.'
'Hitting children may have become the habit in a family, but it's no way to build a healthy relationship. It's more likely to encourage fear and deceit than love and trust.'
'By contrast, setting firm, consistent limits and using reasonable consequences often works well. Combine that with praise and attention and you get a lot more cooperation as well as a lot more fun.'
'Parents we work with often tell us that it's harder for them to learn a new way of doing things than it is for the kids. For most families, when the adults change their behaviour, the kids follow suit,' says Mr Sanders.
'A lot of parents are surprised to discover they often have more influence when they focus on controlling themselves, rather than on controlling their kids.'
Anyone interested in looking at how they can be great parents without hitting their kids can contact their local Relationship Services office for assistance.
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