If you’re reading this, it doesn’t mean that I don’t or haven’t spanked my kids. Nor is this a way to shame or judge anyone that does or doesn’t. In fact, I hope its encouragement from someone that has realized that spanking doesn’t solve everything.
How many times have you hear “Spare the rod, spoil the child?” Probably too many as a justification to correct bad behaviors. It’s taken me the length of my parenting to understand and find what that means to me without worrying about judgement.
When I first had Kai, I adamantly told my mom I wouldn’t yell nor would I spank him much. Then I found myself learning knew ways to discipline, but still reverting back to tapping his hands or spanking his butt as he got older. Or to avoid spanking, I would yell – and I don’t mean at a level of sanity. I would scream, and through my frustration not handle myself how I really wanted to. I’m thankful I’m not that mom so much today as I was, it’s tough being a new mom…it really is.
I grew up being disciplined with spanking, truthfully I don’t know many people in my circle of friends that weren’t. Was it useful? Well… sometimes. Did I turn out aggressive and angry? I had my seasons, however I don’t fully connect it to how I was disciplined. With that said, this post is close to me because I’ve wrestled on how to approach this. Also I believe that the discussion creates a fear that if you choose either way, you’re judged as too soft or on the cusp of child abuse. I do want to say that in my time of working for child protective services I’ve seen a large spectrum, which is why I encourage these three strategies for all parents.
- Check Your Pulse. It wasn’t until I found myself spanking in a fury that I realized I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Check your pulse. Are you angry? Maybe tired? Possibly overwhelmed? If so, ask yourself this, “If I weren’t any of these things would I handle the situation differently? Most times if we’re honest, we just might. If you can, take a step back and check yourself. Breathe and Stop. Get into a healthier frame of mind to reach a solution.
- Check Your Kid’s Intent. Most times we view our kids’ behaviors through an adult lens. What I mean is, we can judge what they’re doing as though they are FULLY self aware, well knowing adults. Yes, when you read that I hoped you laughed a little. This is not intentional, but it happens. So when your kid doesn’t listen for the 48th time, it feels like a deep intent of disregard and disobedience – and keeping it real some kids really are. However, after a long day of cleaning up, nursing, or working away from home I don’t always think beyond that. I’ve missed that my kids may be doing things not out of intentional harm to me. They’re not evening thinking of me! My kids may not be listening because something else is more interesting, or gasp they didn’t hear me (this is rare haha). In short, making sure to address what’s actually happening rather than assuming and making it personal greatly helps.
- Response or Reaction. Are you responding or reacting in the moment? This has been the greatest shift in my discipline towards my kids. Some situations require quick reactions, like snatching your kid from running into the street. Yet, I’ve seen when I respond I remember why I’m addressing an issue. Responses make us think and work towards a solution. As I reflect, when I’ve spanked it’s a reaction out of anger or embarrassment – with no resolution in mind. When I stop myself, think of what I hope to see different, and then have a talk with my kids it tends to bring the results I hope for. Responding for me looks like actually figuring out what to do to create a change in behavior, not just stifle or stop it.
My biggest lessons continue to come from this journey in parenting. That quick fixes and even mindsets of how I was raised aren’t always the answer. Parenting is deep and hard work. It keeps me on my toes, praying every moment, and reaching out beyond my own scope of knowledge. I hope you’re encouraged to use these and whatever tools help your kids grow! Discipline is sticky, but it’s purposeful when we’re intentional in our approach.