Spanking gets some bad press, it really does. I know why it gets such a bad wrap, and it is frustrating when a few bad apples spoil the pie. I would like to offer an apologetic (defense argument) for my version of this discipline.
Spanking is not the only form of discipline we use in this house. It is used as the response to willful disobedience from our children.
In other words our children understand the rules set forth in the house, or they fully understand that mother is the authority figure and any choice they make to break a rule or disobey what the authority figure has said earns a spank. There are some ‘regulations’ that have been laid for this.
- the child must understand the rules as they are made
- the adult needs to make sure that they child has understood the rule (I have day dreamers, so when laying down a new rule, I have to make sure the child is making eye contact and can recite the new rule to me)
- sometimes rules and guidelines have to be made along the way, these are laid out for the child to understand in the manner above
- rules are age appropriate, there are things my 10yr old should be able to control that my 4yr old just can’t
- both adults in the house should be involved with rule making so both adults are on the same ‘sheet of music’ so to speak
- I do not spank a child for any accident or something that could not be controlled (this is important, some folks don’t take the time to determine if it was willful disobedience or simply a child being a child)
There is also a method to this form of discipline. This will help to keep the parent calm. None of the forms of discipline should be carried out if the parent is just ‘angry’. When a parent is angry, they are not in ‘teaching’ mode, they are in ‘reacting’ mode. The whole point in discipline a child is a negative consequence and teaching moment. You can’t expect the child to adapt the behavior if they have no idea what is expected of them aside from the negative behavior.
- We remove the child from the group or situation, go into a private room in order to have the child’s full attention.
- We explain to the child, or have the child explain to us why we are now in a private room and handing out the spank.
- We swat the child on the bottom, NO PLACE ELSE! We limit ourselves to one swat only, since the point is not to harm or bruise the child, it is to adjust behavior. Also, if emotions are running high, this keeps the discipline in check and in focus.
- We hug the child, again explain why they were disciplined, and remind them that we love them very much.
Yes, it takes a bit of time to do this but there is a good reason for keeping it organized and structured, which is what we want.
I have heard several of the arguments against spanking and would like to engage with them.
“It teaches a child to hit”
It does not teach a child to hit unless the parent is ‘hitting’ the child in some wild manner with no instruction. A spank is dealt to the child’s bottom, not face, back, arms, or legs. If you as a parent are lashing out in anger at your child, you are not spanking, you are hitting.
Also, I would ask folks who don’t choose to spank… does your child hit? Yep, I bet they will at some point. Did you teach them how to do this? Nope. I never taught my children to hit, to lie, to take things from others… they just did it.
“It’s negative reinforcement, which does not work.”
Our legal system is based on negative reinforcement. What is the only thing that keeps a person from speeding? The fact that a cop could pull you over and write you a ticket… negative reinforcement. Jail? Negative reinforcement. Death penalty? Negative reinforcement. Without such things as a consequence, there is nothing internal that will keep someone from breaking the law, we are too self-centered as human beings. Negative actions need negative consequences to keep order in society.
“It doesn’t work! Even after you spank a child, they will do it again.”
Of course they will. They repeat offensive behavior no matter what form of discipline you use. I have had a few strong-willed children and a child that loves to observe reactions. It’s challenging raising kids no matter how you do it. Just consider your own actions as an adult. Do you scream or yell at your spouse? Do you do it often, repetitively? Has your spouse asked you to stop? Should they stop asking because you keep doing the offensive behavior? I believe that humans need repetition to learn anything, no matter what age, it’s just how we learn.
“It’s harsh and abusive.”
If done poorly, yes. If bruises are left, yes.
I am certainly not saying it is for everyone. Some children don’t really need it, I just was not blessed with compliant children. If you, as the parent. can’t be orderly and controlled, I would suggest you not spank, choose an alternative that you can remain calm during. Don’t spank a child if they didn’t know that climbing on the counter and squirting out all the dish soap was wrong. You at your age may realize that is wasteful and messy, but that is because you were taught that it was so. Your youngster didn’t know that and now needs to be told that they can’t do such things. Each first offense gets education and the laying out of a new rule. Now repetitive poor behavior or willful disobedience can be justly disciplined.