ALTERNATIVES TO SPANKING
Let me share a question I received from a parent with an ax to grind:
“If you have found a better way than spanking to subdue a rambunctious, conniving, manipulating holy terror perhaps you could give me a few pointers on how to deal with my 3-year-old son. I was not only a child who got spanked when I misbehaved but suffered child abuse from other relatives who gained custody after my parents died. I have been on both sides of the spectrum and I agree with spanking if it is done responsibly. My husband and I don’t just grab our kids and whale them. They get a verbal warning first, then depending on the behavior a long in-depth conversation is held so they understand what they did that was wrong. Spanking is always followed with a hug and a kiss and telling them that no matter what we love them and we are doing this because all other means had been exhausted and they didn’t choose to respond to any of them. Sometimes we let our older kids choose their own punishment. Sometimes we choose for them depending on the severity of the behavior. Back talking or lying is an instant spanking while not completing work at school results in being grounded ( no TV, computer, or toys). My three-year-old doesn’t respond to being grounded or time-out so I have no choice. Some children deserve to be spanked like the ones who throw fits in the grocery store floor because their mother has said no to a certain cereal that has trip to the dentist written all over it. My sister was whipped with a belt until she was 9 and she is one of the most loving, caring persons who would give the shirt off her back to anyone who needed it.”
I gave this mom some pointers:
o To handle a royal fit in a market, leave the cart, pick up the holy terror, hold him away from you without looking at him (the attention-less hold) and take him out to the car. This startles the child, especially if you don't keep talking. Just say ONCE, "The rule is no screaming in public!" My children were so astonished when I pulled off the road and stopped the car that they quickly learned the rule (no fighting in the car) and the consequence (Mommy stops driving no matter where we are headed or whether we are late).
2) Stop using so many words; forget about long speeches about how disappointed YOU are or how hurt. Don’t waste your spit trying to use logic or persuasion with a young child. Depersonalize these battles. "The rule is---!" If the rule is not obeyed use an appropriate and consistent consequence.
3) Talk softly and firmly.You have power in your whispers that is lacking in your loud parental voice because the kids stop doing what they are doing to hear what you are saying.
4) Feel like and act like the parent-in-charge.
5) Never let child chose punishment. There is a RULE and there is a CONSEQUENCE, both determined by the parent.
6) Don't politicize spanking or try to correlate it with behavior as an adult. There are too many variables like personality of the child, resilience, severity of the spanking. We DO know that harsh physical punishment in childhood is strongly associated with violent behavior later in life but that does not mean every spanked child is doomed to be a criminal.
Remember parenting is tough, some kids are harder to deal with, we all have to do the best we can. But these strategies do work for most children most of the time.
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