Monday, February 20, 2012

Thoughts on discipline before part two...

I know I promised a part two to my spanking part one post. And its coming along nicely. I'm just being really careful because I don't want to shape anything I have read to fit my previous beliefs.

But in the meantime I did want to make the following comments to put some of you at rest.

There is some research out there on how kids who are spanked are more violent than non-spanked. And even my favorite Dr. Sears says this. But we all know this is not always true. There are "those kids" who show up to library story time and hit and snatch and push and bite and you know they have never been so much as reprimanded a single day in their life. We used to attend an adorable little story time at our (now closed) favorite book store. Ms. Wilma was the sweetest little elderly woman and her kind husband would tag along and knew all the kids by name. I went religiously for almost two years with a group of moms... and one dad. And that one dad acted like his son was fine just doing whatever he so wanted, jumping off tables, stealing Ms. Wilmas books and supplies and throwing them around the room, pushing other children, taking the other children's belongings, pushing them out of their chairs and the running off with the chair, hitting, did I say pushing? And his dad never once addressed his sons behavior. I did on one occasion, this little guy hit Marin in the face when we walked in one morning and in true form the dad said nothing, in fact it looked like he tried to ignore my screaming child. The next week the same thing happened, and after the dad said nothing I got down on my knees and looked the little boy in the face and said, "We do not hit. NO!" I stood up and looked the dad in the face and said, "This is the second time he had hit Marin for no reason." The dad looked shocked that I would even talk to him about it. The next week the same thing happened, I told the child the same thing and then told the father that I was going to ask Ms. Wilma to ask him to not come again if his child could not be kind to the other children.

Hitting is a natural response for a child when they are scared, hurt, angry, upset or feeling threatened. While I think its also taught, I think its also responsive. Owen has never been spanked and he hits Marin when she has things he wants. We have very strict consequences for hitting in our house. Owen is only 21 months old and he is told very sternly, "No hitting!" and then taken to his room and sits on his bed alone for a few moments. His little bottom lip quivers and then we ask him to say sorry and give Marin a hug. Our expectation is that he will end this behavior as he gets a little older and can communicate why he is frustrated. But we do not give him excuses until then, or allow the behavior to go without consequence.

I guess what I am trying to say is that our reasons for not spanking our children is not because we think by us occasionally using that as a form of discipline or any other parent using it is going to make really violent children. Although while I make that statement I do thing that spanking can create an "I'm bigger and can use force" type of mentality. Let me explain...

Here's the deal, kids don't differentiate between hitting and spanking, hitting is hitting to a kid. An example that always makes me chuckle is when I see parents teaching a very young child (like 14 months) to give "high-fives" and then the kid hits the parent in the face and the parent's say "NO HITTING!" Hitting a hand and hitting a face or an arm is hitting, or high-fiving, whatever you want to call it the child does not differentiate between your hand and face, the action is the same action for either location on your body. Spanking is not some "special" form of hitting to a child, its called hitting, striking, spanking, same thing, those words are totally interchangeable to a young child. Just because an adult does it to a child does not change the language. If an adult were to strike another adult it would be called assault, if a child were to hit another child it would be called unacceptable and there would be a severe consequence, so why is spanking a child somehow different than the adult version or child version. I once asked this to a friend who didn't see why spanking her child was an inappropriate consequence for hitting another child. She said, "Because I'm an adult and its different." But to the child its very confusing, in their mind they aren't thinking, "Oh mom can hit me because I hit another child, that makes total sense." no they are thinking "hmmm I don't get what I did was wrong?"

(From Dr. Sears) "The family is a training camp for teaching children how to handle conflicts. ... Spanking demonstrates that it's all right for people to hit people, and especially for big people to hit little people, and stronger people to hit weaker people. Children learn that when you have a problem you solve it with a good swat."

Okay so soon to come is part two of this topic, or I guess it would become part three actually!

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