Controversial topics always make me nervous – hence why I post things like this close to never. There are bound to be people who disagree with me, or take what I have to say personally. This is my disclaimer (yes again); that what I post here is simply what we feel, what we do and what works in our family. It has nothing to do with what I think of you as a parent, your discipline tactics or what works for you and your kids.
I was at the Walmart the other day (yes I know – Walmart?? Why not Target you ask? Walmart???) picking up some new pacifiers for Makenna as we seem to loose those suckers daily and I saw a mom and what I am assuming to be her toddler down the aisle next to me. The toddler, being like any normal child his age was having a bit of a fit and after a few vocal threats the mom just smacked the kid across the face!! It wasn’t a hard blow, it wasn’t physically damaging – but it was enough to get his attention and mine. This baby couldn’t have been more than 2.5. I am not sure who was more shocked – me, or the mother realizing I was stopped dead in my tracks staring. We both went on our way, with not a word squeezed in edgewise but the entire interaction really got me thinking about the moral compass of this behavior.
Do you think the wack stopped this kid from continuing to throw the temper tantrum? I will let you be the judge on that one.
As I have said, I am not the type to judge how one disciples their children…. your kids, your rules. Witnessing abuse? Yes I would step in and say something but but in all actuality if spanking is how you choose to parent, that’s your business and not mine. I was spanked as a child as I know many of my friends were as well and I am (from what I can tell) no worse for the wear… there is no lasting damage here. However, for some reason this interaction just really got to me – I really just didn’t think this child did anything that warranted being deserving of getting smacked across the face that way. Yes he was crying, screaming and carrying on while Mom was shopping but that’s a reason to just hit him???
With all of the crazy stories of children being hospitalized or even dying from so called “parent disciplining” circulating Social Media and and the news these days it’s hard for me to understand where these people come from, how it gets that bad, how they let it go that far. I am NOT against disciplining your kid. I am not against consequence and learning to take responsibility for your decisions and actions. I am not against being firm and letting your child know when he is in the wrong. I am not sure however where the line is drawn when it comes to actually physically hitting them and when that becomes ok.
Before becoming a parent I was under the assumption that I would spank as a form of discipline – my parents did it, I am fine human being, why not? Jeremy and I had MANY conversations about spanking and discipline and how we wanted to handle these situations leading up to becoming parents for the first time. To say we were originally on the same page would be a lie. However, in the past 3 years and 9 months of being parents I believe we have wandered onto the same common ground.
Reason #1 we don’t spank our kids? We simply don’t have to.
Gavin as a baby and toddler was just an easy kid. He hardly ever acted out or behaved in ways that would warrant discipline let alone spanking. To us, it just became a non-issue. Out of sight out of mind. When he did start throwing tantrums we resorted to other forms of “punishment” – time out, saying sorry, redirecting…. these things worked. These are the same forms of discipline we still use to this day.
Makenna is a bit harder to discipline than Gavin ever was just because of her naturally spunky, inquisitive and testing nature but at the same time our patience has also grown exponentially through the last few years. In many ways I personally find it easier to deal with my own patience and frustrations now than when Gavin was little.
We continue to grow and learn together and do what works best for us in each situation.
My kids are told “no”, they are told when they are doing something wrong, we take them out of a situation when they are acting out, we raise our voices, we’re hard on them and expect a lot out of them when it comes to acting appropriately. They know there are rules they have to follow and they know when they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing… but we don’t need to hit them to make them understand this. It’s never even crossed my mind to ACTUALLY go through with it. My kids (if I say so myself) are very well behaved and they listen (for the most part) – as much as a 3 and 1 year old can comprehend – well. In short – they are not “little assholes”.
I believe Jeremy and I have played a part in that. We teach them how to behave and what is acceptable and what is not in different situations from very early on.
Firm tones and following through works wonders people. You don’t have to be “old school” to be effective and for kids to know what is right and wrong.
Reason #2 we don’t spank our kids – It’s hypocritical. In all reality I believe spanking is 95% the parents own personal “issue” – You don’t spank because the child is being “bad” you spank because you cannot control the behavior.
The child acts out, the parent tries other forms of discipline – it doesn’t work, parent get frustrated, looses their cool and wack. It begins.
Spanking in my eyes, is the parent resorting to lashing out. Essentially the same thing your “punishing” your kids for. It’s a last ditch effort, in most cases to get your kid to listen and to behave.
But what does this actually TEACH your kid? That it’s OK to hit?
It doesn’t correct the behavior ultimately – they are still going to do it (maybe even when your not looking – trust me I know from experience) and you’re only scaring your child into doing what you want them to – you’re conditioning your child to fear you by hitting them. How is that creating a good lasting impression or relationship with your child?
I have no problems with my kids FEARING me. I am not here to be their friend, I am their mother (wait, lightening is about to strike. I sound so much like my own mom it’s scary). I do however, have a problem with them thinking they can’t come to me when they have done something wrong for fear of me physically hurting them.
Whenever I feel myself losing my cool during one of Gavin’s “crazed lunatic spawn of Satan” moments (and yes he does have them from time to time and yes I do lose my cool), I always give myself a few moments to collect myself before actually dealing with him. Then I can calmly discipline in a way in which he will truly get something out of. If I find myself loosing my cool, I am lucky that Jeremy can step in and take over and vice versa. We have learned to pick up on one another’s cues for when the other needs a break (or our own time out).
Which leads me to #3 Reason we don’t spank our kids – I personally don’t trust myself to leave my anger and frustration out of spanking, also it becomes habit forming… and then what happens once the spanking doesn’t work?
I am sure there are plenty of people who can spank in a disciplinary way and that is all there is to it. Not me. I get emotionally involved in my children’s lives, I can get angry with them and frustrated and I sometimes let my emotions get the best of me. There have been times I feel myself losing my cool – they press my nerves and I feel myself wanting to lash out at them.
I don’t want to take MY angry frustrations that my child is not listening or obeying me out on them. Yes, they are the ones who are are misbehaving but it’s MY responsibility to reign them in to discipline efficiently and to keep MY cool… I don’t need to hit to accomplish this. I have done it for 3 years and 9 months… we can continue to find ways to make them hear us.
If I do it once, who’s to say I won’t do it again, and again…. and again. I don’t want to be that person that has to threaten my kid with hitting to make them listen to me because it’s worked in the past.
I know there is a difference between spanking to discipline and actual abuse – but as I have said before, I not sure where that line is drawn and staying away from it completely is working for now.
#4 Reason we don’t spank – I honestly believe it is my JOB as my child’s parent to find ways to teach them to listen and behave as they are expected.
You teach your children that when someone acts out in a social situation or at school they are not supposed to use violence to get what they want…. yet you’re doing the same thing.
As they grow older and gain more responsibility for their actions I am sure we will be coming up with new and more age appropriate discipline tactics However, it is still OUR responsibility to keep calm and in line – we’re the adults. If I have to hit my child to accomplish that – I am doing something wrong. Period.
If redirection doesn’t work, we try something else. If time out isn’t solving the issue maybe they lose a privilege. There is always some way to get around it.
Reason #5 we don’t spank our kids – I believe in teaching my children by modeling the behavior I expect them to exhibit.
Monkey see – Monkey do. End of Story.
I know that not everything I do as a person and as a parent teaches and models exemplary behavior. We all have our downfalls and shortcomings and I cannot be perfect – I am not perfect in anyway. I always thought before kids that I WOULD spank… that is until I got pregnant and actually had a baby. Then I could not imagine actually going through with it.
I just don’t want to start and by creating disciplinary tactics that we find work for our family at this point, we don’t have to.
We all raise healthy happy thriving kids in different ways – this is just one of those things that works for us.
We’re told all the time how “good” our kids are when they are in other people’s care…. we’re told how polite and respectful Gavin is all the time. Until we’re told differently I think what we’re doing is working 🙂