Why I stopped spanking.

7.12.2012

As a parent, it is definitely difficult to admit when you are wrong. We think that we know everything, and we sure as heck know what is best for our children. They are our children, right? Nobody knows what they need better than us!

I have possessed this mentality for quite awhile now. When somebody tried to give me parenting advice, I would automatically get offended. Are you trying to say that I am parenting my child wrong? It is discomforting to feel like you might be failing your child and even worse to have somebody point your flaw out. It is as if somebody used a megaphone to yell, "Hey, look at this young mom. She has no idea what she is doing!", every time somebody talked to me about formula, diapers, potty training, or the ever popular car seat safety.


It becomes overwhelming. All the information that a parent must take in, process, then make a decision. We do this millions of times throughout our child's lifetime. What bottles to use, when to start potty training, on and on. It seems rather impossible that we would just naturally know it all. But dang it, we certainly like to believe we do!

The other day, a study came out that links spanking with adult mental illness. Depression, anxiety disorders, paranoia, and other issues all caused by spanking. Not severe abuse, just that swat on the butt when your child gets out of line. This both shocked and discomforted me, as I was being told what I was doing had a lasting negative impact on my son.

Most of the time, spanking came out of frustration and helplessness. I didn't know what I was doing. (Yes, I admit it!) But I had already begun to question spanking. Even though this was the only form of punishment I have ever known, it left me feeling extremely guilty. I did not like causing my child pain whether I was reinforcing behaviors or not. And in all honesty, it didn't appear to be effective. He continued doing what he wanted but with the fear of being spanked. The fear of....me.

After reading the findings of this study, I knew that I had to completely change my ways. From that day forward, I made a vow that I would never spank, swat, or become physical with my son in any way. The easiest way to do this was to let go: 
  • Accept the fact that my four year old was going to make messes, throw fits, and act, well, like a four year old. 
  • Material items are not important in life. Things can be replaced!
  • Parents don't know all the answers. Sometimes we are wrong. This doesn't make us failures or any less of a parent. It makes us human.
  • Learning from our mistakes and knowing when we are wrong is what makes great parents.
I began making these words as my mantra. I pounded this into my brain over and over, because I knew it was true. Letting go of all the frustration and helplessness that I felt as a mother allowed me to look at things in a different perspective. I began to just come up with these amazing ideas on "punishment" and put them into action. 

One day, we were out eating lunch (Chipotle, ftw) and he would not listen! After what seemed like the millionth time of asking him nicely to get out from under the table and sit in his seat, I decided to start counting. "One, t--". I literally only had to count to one and viola--he was in his seat eating his lunch. It was magical.

Being really big on communication, I sat down and talked to my son about spanking, too. I told him that I was not going to spank him anymore and apologized for all the times I had done it. We had a wonderful, adorable conversation in which he blatantly told me that spanking was "mean". Our household has also been using timeouts religiously, and I am becoming a believer! I put my son in the chair, crouch down, and explain to him why he is in timeout. He doesn't always like it, but he sits there. And when his four minutes are up, he hugs me and apologizes. Every single time.

To me, this is so much more rewarding than spanking. I feel happy after "punishing" my child, not guilty and upset. It seems like this is a better situation for both myself and my son. His behavior has drastically improved, and I feel so relieved. There is not a doubt in my mind that I made the right decision for my family to stop spanking, and we will never go back!

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