I used to think spanking was an okay form of discipline. I was spanked as a child (I don’t think it was too often, because I can remember specific incidents), and I turned out all right. Well, at least I think so!
But lately, I’ve been thinking about spanking a bit more. It may be because I have an extra-sensitive child who is humiliated if reprimanded, but I really don’t think it’s okay anymore. As I’ve matured in my parenting skills and learned more about myself as a parent, I’ve discovered that spanking is much more about the parent than it is about the child. It’s a sign of utter frustration, an impulsive display of anger, or a complete lack of knowing how to handle a situation, in my humble opinion. Here’s a perfect example:
My mom and I took Real OC Daughter to Gymboree last week to exchange some clothes that didn’t fit. We were waiting in line – a very long line, I might add – probably because it was the last day to use those coveted “Gym Bucks”. Anyhow, frustrations were running high among the kids and parents. Tension was definitely in the air. The mom in front of us had two young children in a side-by-side stroller. The younger brother (who was probably just under 2), kept swatting his older sister (about 3 years old) on the leg. She tried to ignore it, but he kept on. She asked him to stop, but he kept on. The swats got harder and harder, until they were just downright open-handed slaps on her poor little thighs. Normal sibling behavior, I understand, and luckily, something I never, ever deal with. Finally, the little girl called out to her mom “he keeps hitting me!”. The mom turned around, smacked the little boy on the arm, and said “We don’t hit.”. For reals.
Talk about shock and awe! I try not to judge other’s parenting styles, but really? Gee, I wonder where he got the idea to hit? Update: It was pointed out to me by a reader that the boy probably didn’t “learn” the hitting from mom, but rather that hitting is an instinctual human reaction. I must say, I agree there. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s our job, as parents, to teach our kids NOT to hit. And by using the words “we don’t hit” while hitting, that’s probably not a very good teaching technique.
Now, I understand the mom may have been at the end of her rope. Total frustration, exhaustion, whatever. I don’t know anything about her or her life. But I guess that’s just my point – that hit was much more about her than it was about her son.
As parents we frequently reach our breaking points. But it’s up to us to be the adults, the better people, the good example. I’m certainly not perfect – I will admit to swatting my daughter on the wrist once when I was exhausted and going through a very difficult time in my life (I felt horribly afterwards, by the way). And when I look back on that incident, I realize how much better I could have handled it if I had gotten a handle on my own emotions first.
That being said, I don’t have a particularly “difficult” child when it comes to discipline. I ask, and she does (usually). Sometimes I have to ask twice, but very rarely a third time. And there are things I can take away as punishment that would be far more effective – iPod, video game time, art supplies – just to name a few. So maybe I’m just spouting off about something I know very little about. But I believe, deep down, that if we take a pause to think about discipline rather than reacting in the moment, the punishment will be more meaningful than a slap. There’s a reason it’s called “getting off with a slap on the wrist”, right?
As I finished up this post, I found this article and thought it was an interesting read. It supports my theory that spanking isn’t okay, but for completely different reasons. Makes perfect sense to me, though!
How about you? Do you spank? Do you feel it’s effective?