We’ve all heard many opinions on this one and today we’ll share ours with you. As always, we want to start a conversation. We would love to hear what you have to say but please be respectful with your comments.
I still remember the moment. I was staying at a dear friends home and her dad was angry. We took refuge in her room as her older sister took a beating – with a belt.
Ugh. It still makes me shudder.
This was a well known family. They are good people. But, I’m still afraid of her dad. As we grew up, I witnessed this same friend use violence in sports; violence on the playground.
We grew apart.
Growing up, my father didn’t lay a hand on me. Not once. Not that I was immune to discipline. I still remember sitting in a cobweb filled time-out corner and my mother’s finger “flicks” to my cheek were enough to make any kid take notice.
But here’s the thing. I wasn’t spanked; and I still had discipline. I still listened to my parents.
I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong if you do choose to spank. Trust me. I’ve had moments in the heat of frustration where I want to spank to discipline. Moments where my girls are driving me to my last inch of sanity.
But I can’t spank.
I won’t spank.
It’s during those times I try to do exactly what my girls’ favorite cartoon teaches (Blue’s Clues). Stop. Take a deep breath. Think!
It’s so easy to get frustrated. It’s so easy to lose your temper. It’s also easy to sit them in time-out and walk away until everyone is calm again.
It’s what I have to do and it’s how we choose to raise our children.
“Elijah, because you clobbered your sister with your tonka truck, you have the usual two choices, a spank or a chore. You choose.”
“What chore is it?”
“You can put away the dishes, clean your sister’s room, or pull weeds.”
“Ahh mom. Those will take forever,” Elijah whines as he shuffles his feet.
“You will also need to apologize to your sister.”
“Um. Mom? Can I have a spank instead?”
Go ahead, call social services as I am sure many will be shocked. I spank. Hang on—you haven’t heard my point of view. It’s only one form of discipline that I use and it’s reserved for defiant disrespect, harming someone else, or when my child puts him or herself in danger. I never spank out of anger, nor do I allow the heat of the moment to get to me… and a choice to my child is always given. And it’s rare anymore that we do spank. We find the older our kids get, the less it happens.
My husband and I are old-school parents. We use discipline methods taught by Dr. James Dobson [The Strong-Willed Child], The Bible and Danny Silk [Loving Your Kids on Purpose]. So before you become that Drive By Lady (Drive By: Defined as a hit and run tactic, when another parent offers you advice or criticizes your parenting skills unexpectedly).
When my kids were little, I could already see the stubborn streak in their personalities. I’d much rather swat their padded tushies than have them get hit by a car, burn their hands, or shock themselves with an electrical outlet.
As they get older, they are able to make choices and understand the consequences and we spank less. Instead, there are rules, boundaries, choices, as if they are little adults. The whole point of disciplining your child is to mold and shape their character; to teach them every action, every choice has a consequence, good or bad. Spanking or any other discipline isn’t for you, it’s about shaping them.
But when they are two and they are running away from you in the store, playing dodge ball with the cars flying down the road or when they blatantly scream things that their parents, I calmly ask what their choices are for a consequence.
Was I spanked as a child? You bet.
Did my parents do it correctly? Sadly, no.
I know the sting of a belt because my Dad was angry. I remember the shock from my mama’s hand because I was mouthy. It wounded my soul. But looking back, I can honestly say we were living a dysfunctional and unhealthy life or in the words of my Aunt Dolly, “Heather your family isn’t dysfunctional, its ****** up.” The constant undertone in our household was anger, laced with fear. They never processed with me about it afterward like I do my children. As I grew up, I learned how NOT to parent and I’m able to speak clearly the differences to my parents and why I parent the way I do.
If a spank has been given, I hug my child, we pray, talk about forgiveness and then MOVE on. Moving on is critical, it means I don’t hold my child’s behavior against them. It’s been forgiven and forgotten.
While you may not agree, I have my reasons and you have yours. If you do spank, I ask that you consider five things the next time around.
- Are you angry? If the answer is yes, put yourself in a time out. Cool off. NEVER ever spank or hit out of anger. If you do, get help.
- Is what the child has done worthy of such a severe consequence and if so, does your child know he is in the wrong? If not, process the incident with your child. Give clear, short statements, “Name calling is wrong. It hurts feelings.”
- Never use your hand. Hands are for holding, not hitting. I have a wooden spoon. Rarely is it used and when it is, all I generally have to do is tap in on the counter, my child’s sassiness and boundary testing processes, “Is what I’m doing really worth getting my rear warmed?”
- Always and I mean ALWAYS talk about it, pray about it. These are the moments when your child will learn from the lesson you are teaching, not just when she is getting spanked.
- Finally, forget it. Don’t hold their behavior against them, let go of the anger and frustration!
The moment of discipline that makes me laugh to this day began with my little brother getting a little crazy one night before bed. He had been warned and he pushed my mom over her limit. She stood up and he knew the fun and games were over. She grabbed him by one arm and he put his little pudgy hand on his bottom.
“I wanna go outside! I wanna go outside!” he started to say knowing his choices. Either outside to run around the house and ‘get some energy out’ or a spanking. When my mom sat him outside he turned around with relief in his eyes and said, “I like it out here!”
As he ran around the house we all got a little giggle inside.
I was spanked as a kid. In fact, my mom would keep track of spankings on her fingers. If we were out in public, she’d just hold up one finger. We knew we’d get spanked when we got home. I remember the count getting as high as three fingers. Ugh. But just one little finger is all it took for us to reconsider what we were doing immediately.
I discipline like my parents did.
Spanking is a last resort. It is never done in the heat of the moment. In fact, I think the expectation actually works more than the actual paddle.
Here’s how our discipline goes:
1. Redirect. My kids are 3 and one. Most of their bad behavior can be redirected.
2. Choices. My kids get to make LOTS of choices. What jammies do you want to wear? What drink do you want at night? Do you want Daddy or Mommy to carry you to bed? Would you like Mommy to read you one or two stories tonight? Which story? Do you want your light on or light off? Which animal would you like to sleep with tonight? And on, and on, and on…. but in the end it is MY choice that they go to bed on schedule. Choices help my kids learn to make the right decisions even when I’m not there.
3. Time Out. I’m a big believer in Super Nanny’s method of time out. She is firm, consistent and always requires an apology, a hug and give an explanation why the behavior is not acceptable. We do that. It works for now.
4. Spanking (or threat of spanking). Sometimes (only once to date) behavior gets enough out of control that a last step is needed. I warn and then ‘award’ the spanking. Once any crying has stopped and I calm down also, I spank. I’ve only done it once. Any time since a threat has been enough. I know it won’t be forever. I’m okay with that.
My goal is to always teach my children that they have choices to make in life. Some choices receive rewards, some choices end in consequence and still others result in punishment.
Just like my young brother knew that lesson so many years ago when he gladly accepted his run around the house.
What do you think? How do you discipline your children? Remember not to attack others. Please share your opinions from your own personal point of view.