Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

Life as a Mom, A Homesteader, A Blogger and A Wife.

Discipline

So, I know this could potentially be a post that irritates a few people. I will start by saying that I truly believe that each parent has to figure out what works for them and stick to it. No one way is the right way for all children... in fact the best parenting style is one that adapts to the specific needs of your child (IMO).

I have been thinking lately about using spanking as a type of punishment. I am not much of a hitter. I have never hit any of the big kids and never the girls either... although I have wanted to. ;D To me spanking is something that should be used for those grievances so egregious that a child could have been hurt. Meaning that if you save it for when you really need it you will get more proverbial "bang" for your buck (no pun intended). So to me hitting out of frustration or anger is more to release the anger of the parent not to parent the naughty child. Spanking your child (in a controlled manner, obviously) after the walk into the street without looking and you specifically told them not to might be a little more warranted.

In this day and age I just wonder what place spanking has. It seems like parents live with a type of fear for punishing their own child in front of others. If you spank your children in public does anyone have the right to call you on it? I think unless you are close mouth hitting your kid, it's your kid. My personal opinion is that I will discipline my kids in public the same as I do at home. If someone wants to give me a dirty look for telling my screaming two year olds they may not have a lollipop than so be it.

This post probably seems a little rambly... I am exhausted. Just wanted to share this thought before it popped out of my head. This seems to happen a lot lately.

6 comments:

tim 10:43 PM  

I think you hit it(pun definitely intended) with the thought that parents live in fear of punishing their kids. Our society seems to have an anti-authority thing going with a lot of emphasis on abuse of power, racism, and hate crimes all mixed in there. That isn't a bad thing, but it could be part of the reason people are afraid to show authority over their kids.

We are also obsessed with individuality and letting everyone express themselves in their own unique, "harmless" way. We have swung too far in that direction as we keep hoping our actions are free of consequences and we are free of responsibility. (with the exception of environmental responsibility, it often seems like that is all that matters in this strange fantasy land called the U.S.)

Anyhoo, I think both of those things are factors in our view of child raising. And all of these views could be largely shaped by the fact that many of us were verbally or physically abused by our own parents.

So what's going to happen is an entire generation of undisciplined, freewheelers who whine all the time and probably develop some destructive habits. Don't worry, though, the pendulum will swing back the other way after that and it'll get back to military style emotional abuse parenting. (it's the circle of life - queue elton john)

The point is you can't win and it's best not to try. Homer Simpson taught me that.

No, I change my mind, you should try, and from my observations, I think that you try, at least a little, with the girls. :D

I don't actually have any child raising experience(I completely neglect my kids), but I have no problems with the spanking idea. I think mainly its just consistency that a child needs(and vegetables), and they need to understand who is in charge. If you promise a spanking will be the result of an action, you'll have to follow through when they test that authority. (which, of course, grace and abby will never do)

If other people give you dirty looks, just give them the stink eye and say "you're next" in your best sly stallone voice

Kristen 11:37 PM  

Tim - I am definitely going to try that stink eye idea in public. How frickin funny would that be to some old bird in Wegmans. :D I also think you totally got what I was not so eloquently getting at. When in the hell did we become so obsessed with pleasing our children that we are raising an entire generation of children and not adults. Someday these kids are supposed to become adults and not stay whiney, obnoxious kids forever. And why in the hell is it so hard for people to find the middle-ground anyway. Either we beat or we spoil. Is there no happy medium???

Mary 7:57 AM  

Coming out of lurking to say that I have a child the same age as your twins.

I honestly could not imagine spanking him for any reason, even a safety reason. What would it teach him? To fear me? That hitting is OK as long as you are an authority figure?

I do agree there is a big difference in spanking and abusing. However, spanking in public to me is just humiliating a child.

I am very firm with my limits and am not raising a spoiled or whiney child. I think I can do that without spanking.

Lots of my friends spank, no biggies to me, just not something that works in my family.

Mich 8:34 AM  

I think parents are weak. I also think that they're too often people pleasers. I see it every day when we leave the house.

Parents are terrified to say "no" to their children because they know that it will result in a tantrum in public. Then what will the people around them think?! That's when I see parents begin to use fear tactics in an effort to regain control. It almost always makes the situation worse and my heart breaks for their child. I can't stand to hear, "You better stop that right now or I'm going to spank you!" Haven't the parents learned by now that it doesn't work. My god, look at the situation you're in at that moment, clearly it does not work.

In the parents' defense, I try not to judge because I don't know their background...they may not know any better. Perhaps they had crappy parents. Perhaps they can't read a Parenting book for whatever reason... Perhaps no one has told them any better. I'm thankful to have a wonderful mother who learned from the many mistakes she made with us to help guide me when it comes to my children.

Either way, I am not in favor of spanking. I am in favor of following through with a punishment however. I've survived many public meltdowns because I followed through with my "no." I have literally left a cart full of groceries in the frozen food isle to follow through with my punishment. I have endured meltdowns in parking lots and sat in time-out on playgrounds. I can tell you that my child has learned that I mean business. It took a lot of stress and patience to get where we are today. Today we rarely have tantrums in public because she understands as soon as I explain that I mean business.

My priorities are always my children, their safety and their well-being; no matter where we are, who is around us or how inconvenient it may be at that moment. I couldn't care less about the people around me when it comes to protecting and punishing my children. It's a difficult exercise in patience and sacrifice but it always pays off. Besides, it's the job of a parent. Not only is it an exercise of patience, but it tugs on the heart strings. It's extremely difficult emotionally to listen to your child apologize over and over once she realizes that you mean business and that you're still going to take her away from her friends at the playground to go home because that was the agreed punishment. It makes for a long car/stroller ride home. No one wants to hear their child sob and know the remorse that they're feeling. Instinctually you want to make it better.

I definitely think spanking and verbal abuse are completely unnecessary and I'll even go so far as to say those are the tactics used by weak parents who have lost control. I make an effort to know which punishments I'll use before we leave the house. For instance, I won't threaten to take books away. I will, however, take toys, movie-watching rights, etc.

Also, there is no errand important enough for me to run with tired or hungry children. If my children are misbehaving because they're tired then I do not punish them because I believe that it is out of their control at that point. It angers me to see parents threatening their children in public because they're acting up and it's 10 p.m. I want to say to these parents, "Put them to bed!" or "I bet you're a lovely walk in the park when it's 2 hours past your bedtime too."

Truth be told, children are people. They want to know that they're being heard. They want validation. Just listen to your children and explain things to them the same way that you would to any person. Hold them accountable for their actions. As a parent, always follow through - not matter what.

I'm not Mother-of-the-Year. I have had weak moments. I will say that during my weak moments I do not resort to spanking or verbal abuse. I simply walk away. I've put her in her room to duke it out with herself while I step out the front door to decompress. A few minutes later I'm ready to enter the ring again with a clear head.

Parenting well is an exhausting and stressful job. I keep a stock of wine and beer on hand :-)

Kristen 10:36 PM  

Thanks you guys, for your honesty and candor. Sometimes when I go out in public and say "no" to my children and I get *those* looks from people for my saying no to a two-year-old it feels like I am the meanest Mom around. Like no one else seems to believe in strict discipline of a young child. I am glad I am not alone.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

I agree with many of the posters here- no to spanking but yes to following through with a punishment each and every time, even when it's totally inconvenient for you--as in leaving the grocery store with a cart full of stuff because your kid is flippin out. It sucks but it's a great lesson to teach.

I'm not such a fan of disciplining in public either--I think it's worth the time to take your child to a private area and discipline--even if it's just a dressing room in a store or behind a tree in a park. It spares them any potential public humiliation at your hands and also spares you looking like either a) a total softy or b) a total tyrant.

I actually like Mich's tactic of leaving your child alone to fit sometimes. Barring any special circumstances, to allow your child to self-regulate is great. You can say 800x that you don't tolerate fits, but your action of walking away demonstrates it, which is way more powerful. I feel similarly about letting kids work out their own problems with as little adult intervention as possible.

All kids throw fits, even those with totally zen parents, but it is true that a parents ability to be patient and self-regulate emotion and control will directly reflect in their child. I think about that each and every time I am about to scream at my dog.

Anon-C

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Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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