Raising children is hard. Especially when they are young and rambunctious. What’s even harder is the sifting through 50 million pieces of advice you get. What makes that advice so difficult is that it doesn’t always match your beliefs or style. Yet, as a new mother you know that you don’t know it all. Shoot, you barely know the basics! So, when a 10-year veteran says spank him, you consider it.
Kris was having one of those days. You know, the kind where they are bouncing off walls and playing too hard to hear your stops, no’s, and leave that alones! When I did get him to listen, he decided not to. I told myself, he just wants to play a little. However, as time moved on and his energy increased, I grew more tired. And, just as I felt it couldn’t get any crazier, he pooped. Now it was time for Wrestling 101. And, trust me, I’m the rookie!!! Kris had made up his mind that once the pamper came off, he was out of there, and he was. But, that’s not what bothered me. What bothered me was that when I instructed him to stay still, he became what appeared to be angry. He tossed the powder and lotion off the bed and anything else that was in his way! That angered me.
It’s in this exact moment that you begin to wonder if you’re an effective parent? Every piece of advice started echoing through my head, but I knew deep within that I was not a spanker. I hate hitting my child. It truly makes me feel like crap. I’m not judging mothers who spank, I’m just saying that it’s not for me! That doesn’t mean that I never pluck his fingers or tap his hand or leg. It just means that I hate having to do it, and it’s usually my last course of action. What I have learned to do is to create my own way of disciplining my child. I listen to all of the advice I’m given and keep what I need, while disregarding the rest.
Back to the Story:
That day, I just took a breath and walked away. He was left puzzled. Not even two minutes later, I heard him say…. “Mommy change me!” I quickly told him that he was misbehaving, and that I was leaving and he couldn’t go. He doesn’t like to be left behind, and immediately laid down to be changed. That day, I won.
I’m sure you’re wondering what I do, since I don’t like spanking much. For correction and in efforts to quickly gain his attention, I use other methods such as; giving him the eye, raising and deepening my voice, taking toys, stopping activities, time outs, and redirecting. Surprisingly, I’ve found these methods work for he and I. He seems to understand these better then just spanking him. Agression toward agression builds more agression…… especially if your little one is as stubborn as my Kristopher. If I do resort to plucking him, he makes sure to tell me that hitting isn’t nice and that was mean of mommy! LOL. What am I to say to that? Hitting isn’t nice and it IS mean. He’s learned to tell me that, because it’s what I tell him when he hits.
I believe that a lot of what our children learn, they learn from watching their parents and others. So, I’ve learned to be more cautious with my behaviors around him. When something doesn’t go my way, I don’t curse or get angry, I try to calm myself and move on to something else. It teaches him to remain as calm as possible in situations as well.
I also believe that many parents, especially moms, aren’t naturally spankers. However, they spank because others tell them they should, because they were spanked as child, or out of anger. My response to each of these reasons are:
1. Spanking because of others: Every parent is different and has their own way of disciplining. Every child will respond differently to certain actions. It’s your job as your child’s parent to tailor your choice of discipline to what best fits the both of you, and teaches the greatest lesson to your child.
Everyone else is not you! Your child is not everyone else’s! What works in one household may not work in yours. What worked for a cousin, or even an older sibling, may not work for this particular child. Don’t spank out of mommy pressure!
2. Because I was spanked: I wasn’t spanked a lot as a child, but I received my fair share. Most of my spanking were administered from my mother, because my father wasn’t a spanker. Yet, I listened to him much more than my mother. Truthfully, I preferred her to spank me. It hurt, and made me stop in my tracks, but it didn’t last long. I preferred punishment that was over quickly and didn’t make me acknowledge what I did. However, when I was told to sit in my room and not allowed to play with anything, it was torture! LOL. I had no option (I need options), but to acknowledge my wrongdoing, so I would typically form an apology. In that room, I always made my mind up not to do that again, because I had time to figure out that it wasn’t worth the punishment.
3. Spanking because you’re mad: This really bothers me, because it’s how abuse sometimes occurs, and it teaches no lesson. Your child did something at a time that you were already frustrated. The action may not have even been that bad, but because you were angry, you reacted quickly and harshly. This can quickly cause fear in your child and teaches them no lesson. All they know is that their plate slipped and mommy beat them.
Being a parent isn’t easy. There are no manuals or perfect ways to do things. When you are faced with determining if you’re effective or not, remember that being effective doesn’t mean that they will understand at that moment, but know that it may make sense to them later. Trust in yourself and do what makes you feel okay. If you walk away beating yourself up about it, you haven’t helped anyone.
I’ll end with this, I work with clients who often share how they were beaten as children. I work for the legal system, and from this I’ve learned that those spankings didn’t positively shape their future. Spanking may stop the behavior for the moment, but usually doesn’t teach a lifelong lesson.
“Children -like all humans- should have the right to decide who puts their hands on their body, and when, and how, and for what reason. Your right to parent how you choose does not superseded your child’s right, to feel safe from harm in his own home”
-Human Rights for Human Children
Kristopher’s Mom (Kristina)