Before we our son was born, my wife and I had many a discussion about how we’d raise him. One such discussion was regarding discipline—specifically, spanking. I was for it and she was against it. Neither one of us was going to bend.
Our son is three years old now and nothing has changed.
I first spanked Will shortly before he turned two. He developed a nasty habit of standing in the dog’s water bowl and fiddling with the electrical cover outlets (which he deftly learned to remove). We tried telling him that was bad and “positively redirecting” him towards another activity. Then we performed the ever popular time-out. At one point we broke down and simply begged him not to do it because we were worried about him getting hurt.
Then one day I came around the corner and saw him with his index finger inches away from the outlet, poised for insertion. I ran over out of instinct, pulled him away and gave him a swift swat on the backside.
He hasn’t done it since.
I know spanking will forever be a hot topic. And frankly I can see both sides. My wife is of the belief that hitting solves nothing under any circumstances. I get that. After all, I’ve also spanked Will when he purposefully hit others after being issued several warnings not to. Her contention that hitting him as a punishment for hitting others is counterproductive is valid.
But I’m still going to include spanking as one of the tools in my parental arsenal.
I use spanking as a last resort when all else has failed. I hate doing it. Anyone who enjoys spanking their kid is a sicko. But sometimes, with certain kids, it’s effective. I say certain kids because the decision to spank a child has to be taken on a case-by-case basis. You can give some kids a stern talking to or a timeout and they learn the lesson. With others, if you spank them their behavior could just get worse. You need to know your child and do what you think will be most effective.
With my son Will, timeouts will usually do the trick. But there are instances when they just don’t cut it. Sending him to his room with all of his toys doesn’t do a whole lot of good, and taking away his favorite toy only seems to have an effect for a couple of minutes while the bad behavior continues. So if all the usual methods of discipline have failed and he’s still being awful, he might get a smack on the butt. Nothing that’s going to leave a mark or really hurt him, but more like a surprising jolt that gets his attention and lets him know what he’s doing isn’t acceptable.
I don’t judge those who choose not to spank. But many members of the “no spank” contingent certainly like to cast judgment on parents who do. And that’s what irks me.
Sorry, but you can only do much “deflection” and “positive corrections” before you become ineffective as a disciplinarian. I understand it’s tough these days when spanking your child can seemingly land you in court or in front of family protective services, but I refuse to change my parenting style just because of political correctness run amok.
Spanking is a useful tool for parents if done properly.
—Photo Ben Husmann/Flickr