Since this is the second time this week that this particular topic has come to mind, I am going to write about it and get my thoughts organized on the topic: spanking.
Uh, just the word drives a fierce determination through my veins. I. can’t. stand. it. My personal experience with the subject is pretty limited. I am a people pleaser and have been since…forever, really. I’ve always been very good with rules. If someone told me I couldn’t do something, I generally did not push those limits–until it came to high school and boys, but that’s another issue altogether. I can remember getting spanked one time in my childhood. I was working in my grandmother’s garden and accidentally hit my brother over the head with a hoe and caused him to bleed. Yeah, ouch. I know. I still cringe when I think about it. I got spanked for that and I still to this day think that was wrong because it was not done out of intentional meanness. I can, however, remember both of my brothers getting spanked on numerous occasions. They were boys and boys tend to want to “rule” a little more than girls and were constantly pushing limits.
Personally, I do not condone, believe in, support, agree with or like one bit the idea of spanking a child as a means to discipline them. It just so happens that the Mother’s Day sermon at my church was all about discipline and it was an excellent message for parents, and though I wasn’t in there (I never am since I teach each Sunday) I did get a copy of the sermon ahead of time to input the points and scriptures into the computer. There was one about spanking, which made me start thinking about this topic. So, I know that there are actual verses in the Bible that tell you to spank your children. But, I still know that I couldn’t do it. I think that with the understandings of how children’s brains develop and how they think and process information we have learned new and better ways to discipline children. Spanking is an action that comes out of anger and I do not believe that effective discipline comes from anger. It is important to show your child that you are upset with their behavior, but modeling to a child acting violently out of anger is NOT teaching them to make better decisions. It teaches them that it is ok to be violent when you are angry.
My philosophy on discipline is that every bad decision/behavior should be warned so that the child has a chance to correct himself. Then, if they do not correct themselves then an unpleasant punishment should follow. I know that’s really broad, and it changes from child to child and it changes with every stage of growth. But, that’s where parenting comes in. You have to know your child. Spanking doesn’t require any effort. To me (here comes the part that might piss some people off) it is simply lazy parenting. It’s the easy way out. “I’ll pop em’ on the butt and show them who’s boss.”
I’ve been in a small group study on The Five Love Languages. Tonight we discussed the language of Physical Touch. With every language, there is a way to speak UNlovingly in that language and damage that person. For example, my primary love language is Quality Time. So, by shutting me out and not talking to me for an extended period of time I am hurt the deepest because time together with good conversations speaks love the deepest to me. If someone’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation, they are hurt the deepest by cruel words. We were taught that children speak EVERY language equally until the age of 5. They need it all: Physical Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service and Gifts Received. After 5, they will begin to have 2 that speak love to them stronger than the others, but before that–they need it all, and that tells me that they can be deeply hurt by it all. If hugs and cuddles and kisses speak love to children, then spankings damage them and cause them to feel unloved.
Carter didn’t take his nap today. He fell asleep in the car and then woke up about 30 minutes after we got home–about 1 1/2 hours short of a full, normal nap. This afternoon, he was so tired he couldn’t STAND himself. He was throwing one fit after another for NO GOOD REASON. Me: “Carter, would you like a snack?” Carter: “NOOOOOO!” then throws himself in the floor. It was like this all afternoon. To make things even better, we had small group meetings tonight which meant that he’d be up almost an hour past his normal bedtime. Bad combo for a 20 month old, let me tell you.
When we get home, Jeff’s trying to play with him before getting him ready for bed and he’s just NOT having it. It’s Jeff’s night to do the bedtime routine, so while I sit at the table and organize my coupons for Bloom triples this weekend, they are off to Carter’s room. Jeff puts him on the changing table to change the diaper and he loses it. He’s kicking and arching his back and screaming. Jeff’s trying to reason with him and he’s not really listening. So, over the baby monitor I hear this POP on bare skin and then Carter really shows off his pipes. I ask, “Did you just smack Carter?” No answer. A few minutes later after the jammies have made it on and the teeth are brushed, Jeff brings Carter in to say goodnight and I ask again, “Did you smack Carter?” Jeff: “Yes, I did it before I even thought about it. He was going to fall off of the table and he wouldn’t stop kicking.”
I really didn’t know what to say. I thought we were on the same page about the subject. Apparently, when it comes to gut reactions, we are not. He asked me what I would have done. Me: “Laid him on the floor and walked out of the room until he calmed down.” I don’t argue with children and I don’t give attention to fits. You want to argue about whether or not you’ll sit in your chair to eat your snack? I will throw the food in the trash and end that right then and there. I learned that lesson the hard way and after several years teaching young children. As long as there is still something to argue about, some children will NOT let it go. And, as long as I’d give an ear to their arguing, they’d continue to plead their case. And, if you give children audience to misbehavior, the misbehavior will often continue no matter what the punishment. Take away the audience, take away the reason to misbehave (for some). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have all the answers and I’m learning new things every day with my own child. These are just my ideas from my experience. And, since I can’t sleep thinking about the need to protect my child from his own father, I thought I’d brain dump all over my blog since that’s what blogs are so good for.
So, where are you? Do you spank or do you think you would? Are you and your husband on the same page when it comes to discipline?