To spank or not to spank?

Discipline.  It seems to be the one area of parenthood that parents struggle with the most.  We worry about inflicting internal damage, ruining self-esteem, raising wild kids… in short, we worry about causing damage in any way possible.  Nothing challenges a parent like having a 3 year old call your bluff, then laugh in your face when threatened with a consequence.

Spanking seems to be one of those taboo topics that we avoid.  What do other moms do when it comes to spanking?  What makes them handle it that way?  Is that something I’ve never thought about?   Talking about it (without fighting) is the number one way to help reflect and understand.

So let’s discuss.  Here’s what real moms here in Birmingham think.

Mommy K says, “We spank, but not for every offense. Spanking is effective and acceptable if handled correctly. We only spank for outright defiance or when repeated time-outs don’t work. The most important thing is to make sure you verbally reinforce why you spanked them and why the behavior is unacceptable, and reassure them you love them. Any time I have to spank one of my girls, I have them sit on my lap and we talk about what happened, I cuddle with them for a minute, and then off they go.”

Mommy LD says, “I grew up being spanked. My husband did not. We decided that we would not spank our children. It’s been really hard for me at times to not resort to spanking. It is so much a part of who I was, that it was hard to not resort to that just on instinct.

For us, Time Outs have worked. They’re not easy, though. I think a lot of people think that they’re wishy-washy discipline. But for us, discipline isn’t punishment. Discipline is about our children understanding what is expected of them and what the consequences will be if they fail to live up to our expectations. Discipline is about consistency. We can put our children into Time Out every single time they don’t heed a warning–even for smaller things. As a parent, I’m not willing to smack my child every time they do something wrong. But how can a child know what to expect or learn if they don’t know when the smack is coming?”

Mommy D says, “I don’t spank simply because I feel hypocritical telling my child not to hit but yet she can be spanked??? Discipline is very confusing to children…it’s very confusing to adults a lot of the time.  Anger is one of the lowest in the hierarchy of emotions that people feel and express, acting on anger is surely the lowest form of expression and quite often with children and adults hitting can be one of the quickest reactions to anger…I personally don’t want to generate any association between the two to a child.”

Mommy DD says, “My dad hit us a lot and all it did was make me fear him and distrust him. I don’t want that kind of relationship with my son. I think hitting is a primitive response, an instinct that is very ingrained in us, and hard to resist. I have wanted to hit him, especially when I’m tired. I have had to put him in his crib and walk away, give myself a “time out”. I’m a single parent so there’s no one to hand him off to when I start to reach the limit of my patience.”

Momma K says, “I spank very rarely. Mostly in situations when what my child is doing is dangerous, i.e. trying to pull the light socket covers off with a gleam in her eye and my keys in her hand, or trying to open the oven door. (She’s never actually achieved either of these goals due to baby-proofing) And technically, I don’t spank, I usually thump the back of her hand.

My husband’s family are very strict spankers, and I think they go overboard. One sister-in-law starts thumping baby hands at 3 or 4 months old. I am not a fan of this. Their children are EXTREMELY well behaved, but it makes me wonder how much of it is fear? They all ascribe to the Amish To train up a child book. I read it and I do not agree with most of their teachings, but it gives some good insight about being consistent, and reacting immediately to a negative behavior. In my opinion, spanking can be a very strong parenting tool when you have the need to communicate something strongly and effectively, therefore it should really be a last resort. I try to keep the girls engaged and busy, as to avoid situations where discipline is needed, but that is not always the case (obviously!) For the biggest part of our parenting, we use sitting out, and loss of privileges. I’m a new mom, and I don’t know for sure where I will land on all this stuff, but that’s where we are right now.”

Mommy Dani says, “[My husband] and I use spanking very rarely and as a last resort, but if the situation is dangerous enough or all else has failed, we spank. I believe that all kids respond differently to different types of discipline. Spanking was the only discipline I received growing up, and I never wanted to limit our household to only spanking because I think there are other effective ways to change behavior. We try time out and limiting first, then a final warning and reasoning as to why he is about to be spanked if he doesn’t stop. Discipline should really be based on the kid’s personality and age in my opinion. My child is pretty receptive to reasoning, so we don’t have to use our last resort very often. If we ever do have to use it, afterward, we have a discussion about what he did and should do next time, we snuggle and then it’s over. I make sure he always knows that I didn’t spank him because I was mad at him and I want him to learn to follow instructions so he stays safe.”

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