Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Recipe for Correction

I have been tagged for a very interesting meme. Several blogs have talked about their discipline style, specifically whether they spank or not. Kelly at Ordinary Art and OHmommy at Buttermom…Classy Chaos want to know where I stand on the subject.

I read three parenting books when Belle was 2 ½ years old.They are Supernanny by Jo Frost, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp, and The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. From these books and trial and error, we have developed a parenting style that works for us.

Anyone who knows these books will tell you a couple of them stand on opposite ends of the spanking debate. Supernanny shows how peace in the home can be accomplished without spanking. Shepherding a Child’s Heart takes the stance that careful and controlled use of spanking is biblical and effective. When we read these books we were not looking for an answer on whether or not to spank our children. That decision was already made through our upbringing.

Jeff and I were both raised in homes where spanking was a consequence for disobeying our parents. I remember meeting a girl when I was little who wasn’t spanked. I was so jealous. I also remember adults discussing how the parents of this girl were making a big mistake, they predicted that this child would be nothing but trouble. I cannot tell you if they were right or not. The girl is a cousin of a cousin, so I never saw her again.

I can’t ever remember being unfairly spanked. I also don’t remember being surprised by a spanking. I knew that if I was caught disobeying, my mom was going to spank me. I never remember being hurt by a spanking. Not that the spanking didn’t hurt physically, it did. I mean that spanking never hurt me emotionally. Other kids were not so lucky. I recognize that different parents had different experiences in their childhood, and those experiences have resulted in their parenting style. I hope that the parents who see things differently than I do will respect my opinion, just as I respect theirs.

In our house we have 3 rules posted on the refrigerator. Let me show you.

Our kids know that there are consequences for not following the rules. I told you in the beginning that I read Supernanny. I am also a big fan of her show. When our children disobey they are sent to timeout. Belle’s timeouts last 3 minutes and Ariel’s last 2 minutes. When their timeout is over we talk to them about what they did wrong and they apologize to the person they hurt or to Jeff and I for disobeying.

We have a couple of exceptions to the timeout rule. Ariel is not sent to timeout for throwing fits. She is 2 years old, so we work with her on controlling her emotions and teach her to express her feelings. I will sit with her while she is throwing her fit and say in the most soothing voice. “You are frustrated because ….” “I understand that you are frustrated” “I am sorry that you are feeling frustrated.” We found with Belle that by helping her identify her emotions, she learned to communicate with words instead of screaming.

Another exception, that I learned from “Shepherding a Child’s Heart,” is to not punish when we didn’t see what happened. Usually this comes into play when our children are fighting with one another. Tedd Tripp’s advice on this is, it takes two people to fight, so both are in the wrong. We expect our children to apologize to each other, regardless of who hit who, and learn to play nicely. If they can’t figure out how to play nicely together, they are both sent to their rooms.

I’ve managed to get most of the way though this post about spanking without revealing whether or not we spank our kids. So, you want to know, do we spank our kids. Yes, we do. How often? Not very often.

Spanking is reserved for situations where our children consistently break the same rule and timeouts are not solving the problem. Our children always get a warning, “If you do that again, you will get a spanking.” Every time I have to say those words to my children, I am thinking “Please don’t do that again, I don’t want to spank you.” Why do I spank then? Well, it works. It changes the behavior, and I honestly believe that a spanking delivered by a calm and loving parent is beneficial. The alternative to spanking would be to allow my children to continue the behavior until I yell at them. Yelling is more harmful than spanking. I mentioned earlier that I was never harmed emotionally by a spanking. My parents yelling, those words said in anger, are hurts that I carried into adulthood.

Now that I’ve established what side of the fence I am on, I want to add some advice about this type of discipline. If you are thinking about spanking, these are the things you need to know. Don’t EVER EVER EVER spank out of anger. If you are angry, don’t spank them. Sent them to their room or someplace FAR FAR from you until you calm down. If calming down is not possible, have someone else do the spanking. If that is not possible, read Supernanny and find a different way to punish your child. Spanking should make you feel terrible. If you get pleasure from spanking your child, it is abuse, and you should never do it again.

I recognize that spanking is not for everyone. I don’t presume to know what parenting style is the best choice. I recommend that parents find what works in their house and for their children. Whatever method of punishment you choose, research it. Know why you are doing it and how to do it properly.

Above all realize that your children have NO idea how to behave properly. All children have a selfish heart and a tendency towards sin, this is the human condition. Do not expect them to know right from wrong and make good decisions. Expect them to make a lot of mistakes, and when they make those mistakes, equip them with the tools they need to make a better decision in the future.

This is the hardest post that I have written. I offer a different opinion then those who have come before me. Do me a favor, leave me a comment. If you agree with any of what I say, support me. If you disagree, I want to know what you do that works better. Here are the opinions of those who have wrote on this subject before me.
Miche does not spare the rod.
Jo-N wants to be her children's best friend.
Tot's Mom spares the rod and believes in patience.
Huckdoll spares the rod and believes there are more effective yet gentle ways to discipline than spanking.
Kelly at Ordinary Art has a three-step approach that does not always work but leaves tiny tushes mark free.
OhMommy has spanked and never will again.
Amy spanks when necessary.


1. Go to your blog.
2. Post about the topic.
3. Give me the hot, hard, and heavy linky love
4. Copy the last paragraph above and add your name and discipline style.
5. Post that paragraph onto your blog, including links. (Yeah, you will want to sharpen a pencil and stab it in your eye at this point. But, isn't that half the fun.)
6. Go to the five people you have tagged and leave them a comment to know they are now, it.
7. Sit back and let the comments roll in.

And so I am interested in what you have to say...
Amy at P2P
The Sports Mama


Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Just wanted to say thanks for leaving such a wonderful comment for CJ on my blog. It means so much that you took the time to share your thoughts with him.


OHmommy said...

You are a "calm and loving parent " it shows. I admire your honesty and agree on so many of your points.

Kids are happy in a home with rules.

Amy Bennett said...

You're trying to kill my blog aren't you?? Mine is up...

Liz said...

not only does spanking when YOU are mad ineffectual, but if the child is to the point of anger, spanking won't even phase them. They can't even feel it. But I do agree with spanking only when necessary. Unfortunately, it was necessary A LOT on my behind when I was a kid because I was a class A brat. But I turned out just fine. Not emotionally scarred from the spanking :)

pb&j in a bowl said...

I whole heartedly agree with what you had to say. We also spank, but rarely need to. There is always a warning, so she knows when she is getting close and almost always changes her behaviour. Thanks for posting about this sensitive subject.

The Sports Mama said...

Wow. You couldn't tag me for a simple meme, could you? :)

I'll tell you that I agree with you, sometimes its the only option left. I also agree that spanking in anger is not acceptable, because you're right.... at that point it ceases to be discipline.

*sigh* That comment probably didn't get me off the hook for posting about it, though, did it? Ok. I'll work on it and let you know when its up.

Kellan said...

I love that you post the rules and I agree - failure to follow the rules should have consequences - you sound like a great mom. Take care. Kellan

Rachel said...

Beautifully written! You did wonderfully! Oy.. you're trying to kill me aren't you.
Okay, give me a couple of days and I will give you an intelligent *snort* and well written response. Or something like that!
this was brilliant Amy!

Irene said...

I don't spank. But I really don't have strong opinions against parents who spank with control. My parents spanked us. But usually in the rage of anger, which I really hated. It was like my parents completely lost their control. I think all it really did was cause me to hate them at that moment.

I am really just afraid if we start spanking, our girls will start to think hitting is OK. I just know that whatever I do or say eventually will be repeated by my 6 yo, because it always is. And I don't want hitting to be one of those things. I do lose my temper, and I hate when I feel that way. Right now, discipline is usually done by taking away things or sending her to her room.

It is a tough call.

Anonymous said...

Yes, spanking when necessary, definitely. It's such a tough call. My one rule? Never let my own emotions get involved. Difficult.

Hey, thanks so much for commenting on my blog regularly. I truly enjoy your feedback. See you tomorrow for Flaunt It Friday!

JLow said...

Hi Amy,

Thanks for the meme.

Gotta rush for an appointment- just a quick note to say mine is up

Just My Type said...

I agree with everything you said.

We gave couple early spanks when the kids were little and unable to reason. They know what a spanking is and fully understand the threat. That is enough for them and, at 9 and 11 years old, they are GREAT kids. I hardly have to discipline them at all. They truly don't want to disappoint.

I was spanked (quite a bit as I recall), hubby wasn't...for what it's worth.

Your children are so fortunate to have parents with a plan. I think consistency is really important. When parents are unpredictable, it can be scary territory for children to figure out where the limits and boundaries are. This I know.

Fine For Now said...

Your parenting techniques sound very reasonable and fair. Even though I don't have children yet, I am concerned about what kind of parenting techniques I will use, since I had a poor role model. I have a feeling I will also be reading lots of books and learning from my husband.


Flea said...

Who started this stinkin' meme anyway? I posted on my blog because Kidzmama tagged me and I can tell you that it was NOT FUN. Yes, I spanked when my children were younger. I believe there's an age at which they're just too old. I couldn't tell you exactly what age that is, but my youngest is ten and it's been awhile. And he is my evil child. Okay, none of my children are evil. He'd just make James Dobson cry is all I'm sayin'.

You expressed yourself beautifully and I agree with you 100%. I wish that I'd done a better job over the years in disciplining my own kids.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post. I thank you for your honesty and really agree with you on the point about being calm when disciplining. And thanks for the parenting tips - they sound well thought out and reasonable!

Mark said...

I too was spanked as a child and I just have to say I commend you on posting that you sometimes do spank your kids on your blog. Something that I just wanted to mention was that parents should never use anything to spank their child with other then their hand over clothes . (Now opinions on this my very depending on the parent).

Anonymous said...

My folks were normally fairly open minded. But if I seriously crossed the line, I had an unpleasant encounter with the dreaded peachtree switch, all around me where I grew up. I hated it at the time, and it left an impression in more ways than one. Looking back, I am glad I got it. I was a wild boy who needed some good discipline once in a while.

Anonymous said...

You are balanced and I agree with your post 100 percent.