I grew up in a family that often used spanking as a tool for discipline. While I was dealt my share of spankings, my older brother received the majority. Aside from being in trouble less often, spankings simply were not necessary for me. I was the kid who crumbled when I disappointed my parents. I didn’t need to be spanked. Spankings left me with fear; disappointment created change in my heart and an unhealthy need to please people. Because spankings didn’t do well for me as a child, I decided early on to find a different go-to method when disciplining my children.
As a nanny, I had to be creative with discipline because spanking someone else’s child is never appropriate. Considering children don’t discriminate with whom they share their crazy, I had plenty of opportunities to practice different types of discipline. Having a degree in psychology and child development, coupled with the hands-on experience of nannying, I was equipped with alternative options before becoming a parent.
Hands are not for hitting. When my oldest uses his hands to express anger and frustration, I tell him that hands are not for hitting; they are for holding, working, playing, building, etc. Because I don’t spank, I don’t have to worry about sending a confusing message when I tell him that hands are not for hitting. (Side note: It is super confusing to a child to be spanked for hitting. Think about it from his or her standpoint. You can’t hit, but I can. Please find a different tool for disciplining hitting.)
Use your words. I am a hot head and always have been. I’m a huffer, yeller, and private thrower. My temper is something I struggle with daily. This temper is exaggerated and reflected in my children. I want to teach my kids to express their emotions with words rather than actions. It is up to my husband and me to teach them how to do so, and I choose to use every opportunity to instill this lesson. When it comes to discipline, I have resolved to (try) to tame my temper and speak words of truth, life, and guidance to my children without using my hands (or my huffing, yelling, and throwing). Parenthood — so sanctifying.
Mommy and daddy are protectors. I want to be a safe haven for my children, and as mentioned above, being spanked put fear in me when I was a kid. I never want my children to be afraid of me. Fear of crossing the street alone, going home with a stranger, eating safety pins? Yes. Me? Never. Knowing the temper I struggle with daily, the power of physical discipline scares me more than I’d like to admit. Most certainly there are moms and dads out there who are able to step out of their emotions and use spanking with a calm I’m not sure I possess. There is nothing worse than a parent parenting out of control.
I’m sure by now half of you are applauding and the other half is writhing in defense. I understand that every child and every family is different. What works for one, may not work for another. While disappointing my parents was enough to end unattractive behavior for me, my older brother never seemed bothered by others’ opinions. While discussion and explanation of expectations is enough for my son, my daughter might completely rock our world. At the end of the day, whether you spank, timeout, or take away privileges, we’re all parents who love and teach our children the best we know how, and pray we haven’t screwed them up beyond repair.
The most important thing you can do when choosing a path of discipline is to know yourself and get to know your children. Learn what works best for them, and you might be surprised at what you find.
What alternative methods to spanking have you found successful?