Saturday, October 4, 2008

Teaching kids not to hit by hitting... hmm........

It has been 2 whole weeks since I have made a controversial post (the last one took this long to recover from), so DJ Kara is here to mix things up again friends. Do you currently or plan on one day spanking your kids? Chris and I are not spankers, nor do we intend to become spankers in the near future. I am not going to lie. There have been a handful of times (okay, more than that) when I have been so frustrated with Sofia, that all I can think about is spanking her, but I don't. The reason that it would not be a good idea for me to spank is because in those moments, I am so totally frustrated and out of control... it would not be good for me to do anything that drastic. By the time I calm down, I no longer have the desire to spank anymore. So, I ask all of you.... is anyone really "in control" of their emotions when they spank, and if so, please explain your rational of why you still do it? Really, I am not here to judge, I know very good parents who spank their kids on occasion, so I am really not trying to judge...I am trying to understand.
I think that some parents who spank, are worried that non-spanking parents do no form of discipline. I agree that if you don't spank, you obviously have to discipline somehow. I am really working hard right now on being more consistent with following through with my threats with Sofia. Being consistent can be hard for me (and every other parent I am sure). I am also working on following through with discipline before I am angry, so I am still calm and in control of my emotions.
Some spanking parents are also thinking, "Well, I was spanked when I was a kid, and I turned out fine." That is true for many of us, but to that reasoning, I would like to quote Maya Angelou: "You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better." Being creative with discipline is really really challenging,but I am working on it. Some of you reading this, probably spank, and many of you I probably really respect, so please share some insight on this topic. Also, I am interested in hearing how people do discipline almost 3 year olds. I need new ideas.


tystrishy said...

Hey Kara! It's Tricia (Bowlby) Lamb. Hope you don't mind that I occasionally stalk your blog. It's always fun to see what people from home are up to.
Anyway, I thought I'd put in my two cents with the whole dicipline topic...With three little ones at home I can say that we've run the gammit on disciplining...including spanking. I'm not big on spanking, but I have done it a time or two...or three. I definately agree that we shouldn't teach our children to hit by hitting...honestly it never works anyway. All it does is cause parent and child to feel bad. The thing that works the best for us is to take our children aside when we notice their behavior taking a wrong turn, and inform them that they are in fact making a wrong choice, and in continuing to make that wrong choice they will have to deal with the negative consequences. What those consequences may be depends on the offense, but it works well for us.(This is were that creative thing you were talking about comes in...? We usually take away a priveledge ie. Sat. cartoons, or playing with friends.) And, of course when they make good choices there is lots of praise and good consequences. :)

Kelda said...

I by no means am qualified to give an opinion because i don't have kids. but i watched kids in a daycare and saw "spankers", i'm a victim of spanking as well, and i've babysat lots!!!!
when i watched kids, it seemed that when the kids needed discipline it was because they needed attention. if someone listened and tried to understand what was going on to make them act up, and then asking them what they want to end result to be, really helped. kind of treating them like an adult.
i watch a fam of six kids also....and the parents have them do the pain in the butt chores as a punishment.....laundry, clearing the table, etc. and then explain why they were being punished. and i don't know what this fam does but they are amazing in their discipline, i think actually, that they might spank in the very rare temper tantrum craziness that kids throw. good luck!!! you're a great mommy!!!

Shahnaz said...

Hey Kara,
I feel pretty strongly about this, yet I try really hard not to be judgmental of parents who do spank. Although I have on occasion felt so frustrated with Owen that an urge to spank or swat him flashed through my mind, I have never and intend to never actually do it. I was not spanked as a kid, but I vividly remember my mom saying to me once, "Shahnaz Rachel, if I believed in hitting kids I would spank you right now." I was so shocked by hearing this that I'm sure it had just as much effect (if not more) as if she had actually spanked me.
I think that what we model for our kids is incredibly powerful and important. If we spank, then we are sending our kids the message that it is ok to hit other people under some circumstances. It also models for them a violent form of conflict resolution. It may be a way to get kids to do what you want them to do in the short term, but are they doing it for the right reason? Also, when they get to the elementary school playground (or even later in life), it's much better if kids have been taught non-violent ways to resolve conflicts.
I do expect my kids to learn to be well behaved, and that takes a lot of creativity and definitely commitment to follow-through. I never threaten a consequence that I am not 100% prepared to follow through with. Since Owen was about one and a half, any violent behavior has been a bottom line behavior, which means he goes directly into a timeout. He sits in timeout for one minute/years of age. Timeouts feel really long now that he's 3 1/2. He learned not to hit within a month when he was a toddler, but every once in a while he hits Quincy out of frustration. I put him immediately into a timeout. I never talk to him or even make eye contact with him during a timeout, but when it's over (I set a timer), I get down on the floor face to face with him, and I don't let him out of the timeout until he can verbalize what happened that got him put in a timeout, what he can do differently next time, and a hug. And I ALWAYS tell him that I love him even when he makes bad choices.
Now, he very rarely does anything violent, but his biggest problem is with not listening or being defiant when I tell him to do something. With this he definitely gets warnings before a timeout and only gets a timeout if he doesn't change his behavior.
I've tried to help him learn to identify his emotions by clearly saying things to him like, "It makes me feel frustrated when you don't listen to me..." or whatever. It's really paying off because he'll now say to me, "Arrrg, Mom! You're frustrating me because you're not listening to me!" etc. I think and hope this will help him solve problems with others effectively in the long run.
Ok, I've been blabbing for way too long. The kids are asleep and Brady just went out with friends, so I'm going to get in bed and READ (what a treat!).

Ryan said...

My personal opinion is that spanking is not any more effective than most other more creative methods and it's more for the parents than the kids (and research supports this). I hear ALL THE TIME: "Well my parents spanked me and I turned out ok". Maybe so, but wouldn't it be more productive to find a way to help the child learn from the mistake rather than hitting your child (and spanking IS hitting your child, no way around that one).

I've been telling the parents I see about the collaborative problem solving method which is a much better alternative. Granted, it doesn't do much for pre verbal kiddos but I've seen it work miracles with explosive children from the ages of 3-12.

R&A said...

Maybe I should make this post anonymous! But no, I will fess up. My name is Annalise and I am an out-of-control spanker. You are completely right, it is not rational, it does nothing to teach them, it's more about my own frustration, acting impulsively. It is not discipline. It is anger, it is hitting. I hit my child sometimes - and I feel SO BAD afterwards. We always cry and talk about it. The anger doesn't last long. In fact, most times, the spank is what turns both of us from being stubborn stobs to being weak and thus nice again. It has a way of humbling you like that. If I were more in control of myself, here's what I would do (what I try to do): Stop myself as soon as I feel it heading in that direction. Stop what I am doing and sit down, look at him eye level and validate his feelings. Have a real talk about it. Distract him or make him laugh if I have to break the tension (a lot of times we are both so stubborn, we won't agree at all, so I just have to tickle him, and then we can have a rational talk over the situation).

Kara's Blog said...

Hey Tricia,
You can stalk me anytime girl. How are you? I so agree that it is so important to praise kiddos when they are doing good so their "emotional bank account" has lots of deposits before you have to make an emotional withdrawal. (I learned this cheesy metaphor when I worked at a treatment center for teenage girls, but I kind of like it).
I always love your insight. You don't have to be a parent to have an opinion on different issues, so keep sharing!
I am right there with you on the spanking stuff. I think that you what your mom said to you about wanting to spank you could be effective. I also love the timer idea. I am going to have to go and get one, seriously. I think that would be great to even take to a park or somewhere she wouldn't want to leave, so she has time to mentally prepare herself for change. That is great that Owen can express his feelings so well. I always feel good as a mom when I hear Sofia say things like: "Mommy, I am so frustrated." It is good to give them an emotional vocabulary. Great comment thanks.
I would love our perspective any time as yours is so unique as a counselor. I need to learn more about this collaborative problem solving method.
You are a brave mama and good mama. The fact that you can see something in yourself as a parent that concerns you and acknowledge it is great. It means you are a humble parent, and we all need to be humble. It is really healthy for kids to see a parent apologize and acknowledge when they do something wrong. It is hard to be patient when your buttons are being pushed, but I am going to focus hard right now on working on this.

juliette said...

Dang it, Kara, you want creative discipline ideas...I was hoping to get some from your blog. I'm always amazed when something actually works, but I haven't tried spanking or swatting, since my urges are more extravagant (like throwing Trevor out the window). The evil thought of it is somehow fun for me. I have to say that once my mom slapped me across the face for being sassy (but I was older than two at the time) and it did leave an impression...I think it worked because now I'm a VERY polite person.

Steve & Sarabeth said...

Kara, Kara...I'm kind of surprised you even like me, because I'm noticing that we disagree lot. :) But that's just goes to show that everyone is different, and our differences shouldn't keep us apart!

Anyway, I feel compelled to offer the other side of the issue. We do spank. However, there is a wrong way and a right way to use spanking as a form of discipline. The wrong way, in my mind, includes spanking in the middle of your anger and not talking with the child to make sure there is understanding of why they are being disciplined. The right way involves the opposite...NEVER spanking at the height of emotion, and including talking with the spanking.

Also, though we spank, it is most definitely reserved for only certain situations, and it is one of many discipline techniques we use. Others include praise/positive reinforcement, time-outs, apologizing, taking away priviliges, and most of all... consistency! I rarely have to spank because Travis knows is expected of him. He is by no means a perfect child. In fact, he is very strong-willed. But our consistent discipline has helped tame that strong will, and I have no doubt that we'd be having a much harder time if we decided not to spank. There have been times when we'd try everything, but the one thing that would get the message across would be a (controlled) spanking. Sometimes, simply talking or a time-out just doesn't cut it.

One more note...every kid is different. With some, spanking is simply not very effective; with others, it is. So you have to know your child.

While I agree that the whole "I was spanked, and I'm fine" logic is ridiculous, I also disagree with the "logic" that spanking teaches kids to hit. Perhaps it does if you only spank your kids in your rage and frustration. But if used correctly, kids know they are being spanked because they did something wrong, not because you are angry or have stopped loving them.

As far as separating the emotions.. when I know Travis needs to be spanked, I send him to his room first. Even if I feel totally in control, he goes to his room first. This gives me the chance to completely cool down, think about what he needs to hear me say...and it gives him time to think about what he did. The spanking becomes SO much more effective with this time in his room beforehand. (sometimes it's 30 seconds, sometimes 5 minutes). Also, I would definitely say that if you area person who has a temper and a difficult time controlling your emotions, (not "you" Kara, I mean "you" generally), then you should probably make the decision not to spank. Otherwise, I think it's an incredibly effective tool, and it should not be feared as something that will automatically land your kid in prison as an adult.

While I know that you, Kara, are not judging those who spank, so many people do, and I resent that. I spank my child because I love him (truly!), not because I am out of control or need to vent my own frustration. There is a lot of self-righteousness in many people who claim that spanking is wrong. And that's annoying. It doesn't bug me too much because Steve and I are confident in the choice we've made to spank and how we's just annoying.

With all of this said, if parents have other methods of discipline that they feel are effective 100% of the time with their children, great! I don't think that spanking is necessary for everyone. But I do believe it is necessary for some, and if used correctly, a valuable parenting tool.

Kara's Blog said...

I don't just like you my friend... I love you. Just think about what brought us together in the first place. We were both soo cool :), silly, and loved the babysitters club. I think you are a great mom, even if our parenting styles are different. The lovely part is is that we are all doing the best we can, and ultimately, I am sure we will both end up with great kids.

DenverWigg said...


Great blog. I just wanted to add another dimension that many people have been ignoring.

Spanking children is wrong but if a wife decides to spank her husband, then I think that is ok.

Something to think about.



Kara's Blog said...

Thanks for your profound manly insight. That's all I can say :)!

E said...

Hey Kara-
I'm sorry I wasn't online for your last political debate blog. I totally would have backed you up on that one and it sounded like you needed more support. So here it is - sorry it is late -
YES KARA!!! You made some very intelligent and thoughtful arguments and I'm proud to be your friend. Good blog entry - you are the bomb.
Don't spank. :)

Rachel said...

Hi Kara! I found your blog and have really enjoyed reading your thoughts. You have some great (and intelligent!) insight. Gives me a lot to think about for the future when we have kids of our own...I like your perspective. Also thought I should point out that I'm 100% on your side of the political debate you were having a while ago. :).
It was good to see you a few months ago--maybe we can run into each other again sometime!
--- Rachel Prickett

2 Little Lights said...

Hello! I have a 6 year old son and a 9 year daughter. I am always looking for creative ways to discipline my children but also teach and train WITH God's word.
Here are a few books that have been an excellent source for me.

Don't Make Me Count to Three(awesome) and Heaven at Home by Ginger Plowman, Creative Correction by Lisa Whechel, and A Mother After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George.

I do believe spanking my children only if they have deliberately been defiant and never do I spank out of anger. I feel there is an appropriate way to spank and an inappropriate way. I believe it is for the husband and wife to decide as parents if they are going to spank or not.

I hope you find these books as helpful and motivating as I have. Many blessings to you and your family. I enjoyed reading your blog :)

Christina, Van Buren, Arkansas