Please said it aint so: More than 90% of American parents spank their toddlers three times a week.
I think this calls for a little bit of a brainstorm. When is spanking the best way to teach a child how to behave?
Personally, my answer is never. But if you’ve got a situation where spanking seems like the best idea, perhaps we can come up with some awesome alternatives. No one really enjoys spanking their kids, right? I hope?
Over the past few days I’ve seen several articles about a proposed Kansas law that allows parents, caregivers, and teachers to not only hit a child, but to also bruise them. (It failed, thank goodness.)
This isn’t the only mind-bogglingly bad idea I’ve heard of from Kansas recently. So what floored me is how many people actually support this idea, saying that parents can’t raise good children without smacking them around some.
What does a spanking teach that other disciplinary measures cannot? Seriously, come up with a situation that warrants a spanking (something your child has actually done, so not “murdering all the neighbors” or anything like that), and let’s see if we can come up with another alternative. If you want to send anonymously, drop a comment through the form and I’ll post for you (assuming you’re not trolling) using just one initial or the identifier of your choice.
As for me, people who know my kids often ooh and ahh about how good they are.* And I always tell them it’s just their factory presets. I really do believe kids want to be good by default. I have never spanked either of mine. Not even once.
But I did once intentionally hurt Ethan. He was just beginning to get some teeth, and somehow he got it in his noggin that it was funny to bite me while breastfeeding. He’d bite, I’d yelp in pain, and he would laugh. So I took my problem to a group of friends, and several recommended “one weird old trick” … just flick him on the cheek if he bites.
So I did. One time. And that little baby just stared right into my soul with the saddest look of confusion and broken trust I have ever seen, then broke into inconsolable sobs. At that moment, I promised myself and him that I would never do anything like that again.
I found a great book on Positive Discipline, and I prayed for help. I decided that anytime he bit me, I’d simply close up shop and that would be the end of that breastfeeding session. I could pump, and while I took care of that he could have a bottle of cold breastmilk from the fridge. It didn’t even took him three times to catch the idea and stop biting me. And mind you, I stopped breastfeeding him when I found I was pregnant with Mary, so he was definitely younger than 5 months old.
Jane Nelson, author of “Positive Discipline,” teaches a handful of important concepts (you can find many listed here.) One of these concepts is that discipline is not synonymous with punishment. It’s about teaching your child. In a sense you’re teaching them to follow your example, or to become your disciple, if you will. So — how will you lead them?
I think I’ve said enough here for now, so I’ll just leave you with this to chew on (alas, it’s gone: the point was that several studies show spanking does more harm than good, there are several other ways to teach discipline, and that if spanking is just what the parent does because they’re mad, consider learning to model self-control.)
*Disclaimer: I can think of three friends who have only seen the more emotional side of Mary. She’s emotional about many things, though, including how much she loves her family. And she generally chooses the right in the end. So I’m not going to stifle her feelings. 🙂