Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This will hurt me more than you

OK, so here's the topic: spanking. I have more questions than I have answers, so feel free to leave comments (even if they're long-winded).

My mother was over this weekend and we were talking about how my (almost) one-year old son gets into everything but his toys. He spends about 1/3 of his time playing with his toys and the rest exploring EVERYTHING ELSE. He will wreak havoc on my whole house. I have had to do some serious baby-proofing in the last few months. And now as he's more mobile, he gets on his tippy-toes and reaches higher for things. I can tell it won't be long before he's climbing up on furniture too.

My mom made a comment about how I have cleared 2 of the 3 end tables in my living room of almost everything. She said she didn't do that. She just taught kids that it was a "no-no". Then if they didn't listen, they got their hand smacked. I guess that worked for her. Oh course she did mention that "You shouldn't leave something in their reach that you couldn't stand if it got ruined". Here's how I handle the situation with that: I warn Zachariah before he touches it "Zachariah, leave that alone it's Mommy's pretty". He will usually look at me like he's listening. If he continues for it, I say "No no" in a stern (but not loud) voice (and I also sign "no no"). Then if he still won't walk away from it, I go over and remove him from the object of his affection. I just distract him with something else to do. This usually works. Although there are times when I do this over and over throughout the day. And I have removed all of "Mommy's pretties" because I was tired of getting after him again and again. I wanted him to be able to explore without getting nagged at constantly.

Things brings up another issue too. When I was pregnant and when my son was an infant, I swore that I wouldn't put up all my "pretties". I would just teach him to leave them alone. Now that I'm dealing with that, I changed my tune. Should I have stuck to that. I still think that after he gets a little bit older (maybe in a few more months), I will put things back on the table. At that point he's a little older and wiser and has more self control.

OK, so the real issue I've been questioning is spanking. Should it be done? Is it appropriate? What age? What circumstances?

Here's how I see it. First of all, my son is too young to spank. Secondly, I don't think I will spank him. I think that most times people spank from their (the parents') anger. I do NOT want to do that. I think there is a time and place for spanking. I believe that it could possibly be used in extreme circumstances with an older child. A toddler does not know enough at this point in their development for spanking to be completely appropriate. Instead I think that time-out is a much better punishment. The reason for discipline must be clearly and calmly explained to the child. And there has to be consistency. I think using these things will work just fine for discipline.

Where do you weigh in on this? Maybe I left something out? I tried to be clear about how I feel, but it is hard to get this all written down. Your feelings about this? I'd love to hear them.


Swistle said...

I've heard a few older women give that "I never put away breakables, I just told the child 'no'" thing, but I don't understand how that could be true. Maybe they used playpens? Because at a certain age, children are mobile enough to get into things, but not able to understand that they shouldn't--or, even if they do understand, not able to control their impulses well.

Mommy Daisy said...

Thanks, I'm glad I'm not the only one on that. I learned really quickly that it wasn't going to work to leave things out. I also think some of the things my mother and I talked about show a generation gap. My mom's in her mid-late 40's now, but we're seeing the differences in our child-rearing views.

Kelsey said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with clearing breakables out of the chidren's reach. When they explore, touch, shake, and throw things, they are doing what is developmentally appropriate for their learning. A great child development teacher once pointed out that VCRs are the perfect size for inserting many inappropriate objects. Now think about how many children's toys involve putting objects into properly shaped holes. The moral of the story is, block the VCR or move it, because your child is not trying to ruin your electronic equipment, they are just testing the environment.

There may be a few things that you can't move, and then you do work at teaching about those, but toddlers have very poor impulse control and some of them are more trainable than others. My parents only had to subtly nod their heads and I would leave something alone; my daughter is the total opposite, Little Miss Iron Will. So let's just say our parenting for her takes a little more than head nodding.

As for spanking. . . the only time I ever really want to spank Harper is when I am very angry, and that's why I usually don't. I am not a hard core advocate against spanking, but I agree that it doesn't teach a toddler much accept that you're really angry and that anger makes it okay to hit? That's my two cents. We've gone the time-out route, which has been effective enough. Good luck!

desperate housewife said...

Mmm, at last I can unleash my long-winded list of reasons not to spank on the world, and no one can interrupt me (or smirk and say, "Wait till you have boys," or some other such patronizing comment.) Okay, here goes:
1. I do believe, no matter what anyone says to the contrary, that any time you, as an authority figure, use any kind of harsh physical means (this could be spanking, slapping, even just grabbing a kid by the arm too hard,) it gives the impression to the child that if you are bigger than someone or in some way in charge of them, using your greater physical power is an acceptable way to control the other person. And this is not the way I want my kids thinking!
Reacting physically to a power struggle is the natural human instinct, but it is one we hopefully outgrow and mature beyond. So if we agree with the above, and don't want our kids hitting other kids, how much sense would it make to spank them for hitting? To me, none at all.
2. For a lot of kids, spanking is very hurtful psychologically- it is humiliating, degrading, seems like a contradiction of their parent's alleged love for them, causes them to fear authority, and for some kids, even confuses their developing sexuality.
Then there are other kids, who maybe couldn't care less. But you as the parent are not all knowing, no matter how in tune you might be with your kid, and I sure as heck wouldn't want to risk hurting my child's psyche in that way.
3. There are other ways to discipline. It's that simple. One of the articles I read through some of my online investigation of this topic made a very good comment, which was to the effect that, "If you canraise a happy, generally well-behaved kid without spanking them, why wouldn't you?" The assumption being that you can, and I have never seen evidence to contradict this assumption.
I think the reason a lot of people choose to spank is that it's just easier. It's a quick solution to things, to threaten a physical punishment. But if there are other means, which if used consistently will get you to the same result, I think that an unselfish parent will choose that route, even if it requires more patience and follow-through.
And there is my very lengthy two sense.