Spanking your kids seems to be quite a hot button issue right now. I have seen many articles talking a lot about it lately and figured I should pitch my two cents. Now this post is not meant to be viewed at as defending one side or the other, but rather to actually suggest that people are looking at this topic the wrong way entirely and I think some ground rules need to be laid out. Every article I read seems to be extremely biased and it is either 100% no or 100% yes and I definitely don’t agree. Now I can’t see Mama Bird or I being spanking parents but that doesn’t mean I’m against it. I don’t think it’s a black and white issue. I also want to be clear that I haven’t raised a toddler and Baby Bird is only 3 1/2 months old so nothing has come up on the spanking level. So maybe my words mean nothing. But I still think the rules I have come up with are sound.
I was spanked as a kid and it most definitely did NOT affect me later in life in any sort of bad way. I only got spanked once by my mom and it was because I did something wrong. I deserved it. I learned from it. It shocked me so much so that I never did anything that warranted a spank again. And that’s because of the underlying intention - it wasn’t to cause harm which brings me to Rule #1 - If it’s intended to cause pain then it’s wrong. A spank is supposed to shock the system. It’s the physical equivalent of a timeout, a tool used as punishment for a bad behaviour. If you want to hurt them it’s crossing the line.
Every single parent has moments of frustration, annoyance, and “pull your hair out” anger because their child is not doing what they want them to. This is an opportunity to rise above and keep a level head which brings me to Rule #2 - Spanking can’t be done out of frustration, annoyance, anger, or any other bad or reactive emotion. It should just be a disciplinary tool for when the child misbehaves or does something inappropriate. If your child is just being annoying or frustrating but technically isn’t doing anything wrong, as tough as it is to deal with, I don’t think this warrants a spank. If it is coming from anger it definitely is wrong (but that goes into a personal philosophy I have to never act out of anger. It’s ok to feel the emotion anger but not ok to act out from anger. That’s a topic for a different day though).
Rule #3 - It has to be an open palm. No fist or back of the hand. This rule is straight forward and simple. A fist is something that should never be used when discipling a child. Same goes with the back of the hand (which causes more of a sting). Remember rule #1, its not about inflicting pain.
Rule #4 - If it’s anywhere else but the butt it’s not a spank and now you’re in a dangerous territory. A spank is on the butt plain and simple. If it’s anywhere else on the body we are talking about a very different situation. A bum has padding and can take a light smack.
Rule #5 - It’s not to be done with force but again just to shock the system so it’s a tap. You shouldn’t wind up to do a spank. If you are going to spank it needs to be in the moment right away. None of this lead up with a big swing type of thing. It’s a tool to be used in the moment of a Child’s bad act so they can associate the spank with the misbehaviour.
Let’s set the scene. In Bob and Shannon’s household it is a rule that bad language is not allowed. Their son, Ricky, has a little bit of an issue with letting the explicits fly. His friends use them and he has picked it up more and more. He has been spanked for every time he has swore at Mom and Dad. He knows it’s wrong. He comes home one day from school and when asked about his day he actually comes out and tells his parents that he is sorry but he swore at his teacher today. Pause. This brings me to Rule #6 - It can’t be used for every time the kid does a bad thing. Know when to use it and when to let it go. Bob and Shannon could stick to their spanking policy for every time he swears but if they do that in this situation I’m guessing that they will be running the risk of creating a much bigger problem. If your child comes to you showing remorse and looking like they truly are sorry don’t knock them down with a spank as a punishment. Use this time to keep your cool and find the appropriate disciplinary action.
The final rule is Rule #7 - Know when it’s not working and let it go. I think spanking is a tool that can be used in a disciplinary way (but always be careful not to cross the fine line). Like any other parenting tool, it has the potential to not work or stop working. There are going to be many kids of which spanking just will not work. They are too strong willed or it just amps them up to disobey more. If it gets to that point and you’re thinking “What should we do, nothing works with this kid?” It’s probably time to switch approaches. Do research or ask for assistance. If you put the work in, you can figure it out.
The Bonus Rule is Always show the love, affection, and care you have because that should never go away. This rule goes way beyond spanking (It’s just a life rule). When I was spanked by my Mom, right after she spanked me, she hugged me, said she loved me, and told me to please never do that again. Again I deserved it, I learned from it, I saw that there was still enormous amounts of love there, and it never happened again.
Now while I still don’t think spanking will be my approach, there is no way I can sit here and say that it’s the absolute wrong tool to use. Especially since I have been on the receiving end as a kid. Despite what some studies suggest I don’t think that getting spanked (in the right way) is linked to mental problems when you’re older. I turned out fine. My friends turned out fine. I would be willing to bet that in these studies, with the people they tested, there were many other factors at play besides spanking. I just find it hard to believe that spanking could cause that much mental turmoil later in life. I hope you understand this and it makes sense. I just think the topic needs more analyzation. But let me pass the question off to you, what do you think? Is spanking an absolute no? Are there shades of grey when dealing with spanking? Let’s have a discussion about it. Let me know in the comments below.
- Papa Bird