Spanking as Discipline
I believe in spanking as discipline. I imagine I am opening up a big can of worms with this one, but I have been thinking about this issue for some time now and I just have to say something. Even if it is just on my own little blog, hopefully a few people will read it and agree with me. I am taking a page from the fearless writing style of Matt Walsh.
Yes, I spank my kid, and routinely do time-outs as a form of discipline with him. You might be thinking, “What a terrible parent!” or “Child abuser!” or something along those lines. However, there is a simple explanation for why I do this – it is because I love him. My son is turning 4 in a few months, and although he is my baby boy right now, he will someday soon grow up to be a man. It is my responsibility as a parent to teach him the skills that he will need to be a successful, well-adjusted, functioning member of society, while he is under my care during his brief childhood
You might be thinking, “what does disciple have to do with any of those qualities?” well, I will tell you. It has EVERYTHING to do with them! From the get-go, you are responsible for teaching and reinforcing your child’s sense of right from wrong, for internalizing their external behaviors, and helping them overcome their natural tendencies. Good choices your child makes should be praised and admired, while the bad choices he/she makes should be corrected, and yes, sometimes even punished.
There seems to be a growing number of parents who believe in no punishment or disciple whatsoever. One example of this is a segment within the Attachment Parenting (AP) style of parenting practices. These parents claim that tantrums and bad behavior are normal parts of development, and that time-outs and other forms of discipline, (including spanking) will have long-term damaging effects to children’s social and emotional development. (**Note: Not all Attachment Parents believe this, just a segment withing the AP group). But this segment holds that by disciplining your child you are stifling and harming their natural emotions and development, as well as damaging the child-parent bond. By this logic, this extreme form of attachment parenting is the best way to raise your children. This is where I have to put my 2¢ in because I firmly disagree with this point-of-view. By refusing to discipline your child in any form you are not doing your kid any favors in the long run, and I would say that you are doing more harm than good.
Children, especially young children, experience emotions VERY intensely. This is because they can only experience one emotional at a time; whereas, you and I as adults, can feel multiple things simultaneously, like angry at your spouse, proud of your child, worried about a friend etc… But little kids are more like Tinker Bell, in that they can only feel one thing at a time, like they can only feel angry, or scared, or happy. This is why your kids can be so happy one moment, and then screaming bloody murder on the floor two seconds later. Because of this, when children throw tantrums they need help from you to learn how to overcome these outbursts. This can be a daunting task, as I am sure any parent will agree with. But if they do not have your help teaching them to self-regulate, they may not overcome these extreme feelings of anger and their fits and can last into adulthood. Many adults have to go through anger management courses because they did not learn “anger management” while they were kids, and so have to learn those techniques as adults. Everyone feels angry at times, it is how you deal with those feelings that matters, and these adults never learned the skills to properly deal with their frustrations and so lash out, much in the same way a toddler might do when he or she is angry. Only when a toddler does it, it is on a smaller scale so we don’t take it so seriously, and sometimes chuckle inwardly because they are still cute.
One mother I recently encountered, who embraces this extreme form of AP parenting, was at the end of her rope because her 2½ year old daughter was throwing out-of-control tantrums, scratching and punching her in the face. Does this sound like a healthy child-parent bond to you? Me neither. These outburst are more destructive to the child-parent relationship than any form of discipline. Obviously this mother loves her little girl and wants to do what is right, but the advice she was getting from other extreme AP moms were along the lines of, “Oh, tantrums are normal” “Try cutting out junk food” “She probably just needs more exercise” “Don’t tell your daughter ‘No’ so much, try telling her ‘Yes’ more.” I am sure this little girl is sweet most of the time, but when she gets mad she is out of control!
First of all, yes, tantrums are normal. But so are a lot of other ‘normal’ human behaviors that we suppress and control. Adultery is a normal human behavior, so is lying, stealing, cheating, and taking things from weaker people because you want them. But these behaviors are not acceptable and must be overcome. So saying that tantrums are normal is not a valid excuse to let them continue. Cutting out junk food and exercise will certainly go along way to help improve behavior; but you know, mothers are people too. And sometimes we just cant cook a healthy meal every day and resort to boxed meals or eating out. And sometimes we just cant give out kids the hour long run in the park they need, especially when there are other children in the house. Does this mean that we should allow our kids to misbehave and throw tantrums when we are having an off day? Absolutely not! Plus, even if you are doing everything perfectly, your child might still last out because they don’t want to go to bed. And when I tell my child ‘No’ I mean N.O. I am the boss, and if I tell my son ‘No’ there is a reason for it. I will not give into my 4-year-olds demands and tell him ‘Yes’ to things simply because he throws a fit! Children are smart, and they learn really quickly that if you cave and give in when they throw tantrums, they will only throw more tantrums.
With all this being said, I hate to punish my son. It truly breaks my heart and I do not enjoy it at all. Especially when spankings are necessary. And I try every other form of punishment before resorting to spankings, he is three, and when it comes down to it, he gets 3 swats on the bottom. I am a very peaceful person by nature, and so intentionally inflicting harm on my child hurts me to the core, it really does hurt me more than it hurts him. But, I know that the long-term consequences of not correcting his behavior will be much worse. And so, I do it because I love him. So are these extreme AP parents bad parents? No of course not, just misguided, and I wanted to shed some light on the subject so that you can make an informed decision about your own parenting practices.
Check back soon for effective discipline techniques to help improve your child’s outbursts and bad behavior.