To Spank or Not to Spank…

The controversy of whether or not to spank your child is front and center due to the recent child abuse allegations against Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings running back.  I am not writing this article to provide details about the Peterson case or give my opinion on his responses to the child abuse accusations.  That is a WHOLE other article!  I am also not here to judge anyone’s parenting skills, but instead, to provide you with effective and alternative tools when disciplining your child.

After connecting with many parents on this topic, a large number simply did not know what else to do.  They explained they spank out of frustration and loss of patience, and simply do not possess the knowledge that there are other ways.   It was not surprising to learn from these parents that some were spanked themselves as children.  One mom, who was raised in another country where spanking was the norm and expected, said she raises her children differently here in the US and is against spanking.  On the other side of the issue, I have heard from parents who are completely comfortable with spanking their children in a “safe” manner and have no plans to change their methods of discipline.  They have not spanked out of anger, would never use a paddle, switch or belt and see nothing wrong with tapping their children on the behind or hand when their children are not responding to alternative discipline techniques.

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I recently spoke with ABC Action News about this very topic.

To follow up from my interview, I am bringing you parenting tips and tools to help you discipline your child in a healthy, effective and confident manner.

As parents, we tend to focus on the act our child has committed to cause punishment versus the why.

  • Is your child tired and cranky, not getting enough sleep?
  • Is your child making bad decisions because there is something else going on?
  • Is your child having issues at school and perhaps still adjusting to the new school year?
  • Is your child trying to gain my attention but unsure of how to accomplish this in a positive way?

Are we basing our discipline choices on the state of our own mental well being?

  • MH900078820Are you spanking out of anger?
  • Did you have a bad day and are taking out your rage on your child?
  • Are you in a patient mood?
  • Who are you really upset with?
  • Did you have an argument with your spouse, boss or relative, and misdirecting your rage?
  • Do you feel guilty after spanking your child or comfortable with your decision?

Time outs are not just for kids.

    • Take a deep breath, remove yourself from the situation and step away.
    • Placing yourself in a time out will allow you to think more clearly and be more rational.
  • You will give yourself time to wrap your head around a situation instead of over reacting in the heat of the moment.

MH900437561Connect with your child on an emotional level instead of a physical level.

  • MH900097935Ask your child what they did and why.
  • Ask your child if there is something else going on that they would like to discuss.
  • Explain that even though you are angry and disappointed with their actions, you still love them and are here to listen.
  • Let them know this is not how you raised them and you expect better choices to be made in the future.
  • Do you want to raise your child to respect you or fear you?

Why do you spank your child?

  • Is it the only method of discipline you were taught growing up and are now programmed to do the same?
  • How did you feel as a child who was spanked, and how has it effected you as a person today?
  • Is spanking a way to express your anger towards your child’s bad behavior or is it a punishment that you feel is effective?
  • If my child hates to be spanked, then they won’t misbehave, therefore it’s an effective disciplining tool.
  • My child is not responding to any other methods of discipline.
  • Nothing else works.

Does spanking send the wrong message to your child?

  • If we teach our children not to hit others, could it be confusing that Mommy and Daddy are allowed to hit?
  • How do you explain the saying, “keep your hands to yourself” to your child?
  • Is physical punishment a hypocritical parenting tool?

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You certainly don’t receive a parenting handbook when you give birth and no one ever said that being a mom (or dad) was easy.

  • Remember no parent is perfect and you aren’t going to win the title of Mommy Master every single day.
  • Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, figure out what you could have done better and try again tomorrow.
  • We all lose our patience, get fed up and feel enraged.  Kids will do that to you!  This is called NORMAL!
  • What is NOT normal is taking your anger out on your children and taking discipline to a level that is unacceptable.
  • If you choose to use spanking as discipline, never cross the line between a smack on the tush and child abuse.  

Realize that for every action you take as a parent, your child has a re-action to your parenting choices that will shape who they are for the rest of their lives, along with how they parent their own children in the future.  Patient parenting is difficult, but rewarding.  Remember that children are fragile, physically, mentally and emotionally.   It is so easy to over react and later regret the way we chose to handle a certain situation.

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No child should ever have marks on their bodies caused by a parent or fear their parent.  When we have an arsenal of disciplining tools to choose from, we can parent more effectively, uncover and understand the emotions of our children and pass down healthy parenting habits for generations to come.

TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!