Like so many other kids, I was spanked as a child. Though, I think I had it easy compared to some of my cousins who were a little more rowdy than I was. As a mother myself, I have spanked my child before, but I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. Hitting children makes me uncomfortable. For that and several other reasons, I don’t hit or beat my child.
I want my child to respect me, not fear me
Spankings/Whippings/Beatings are the bread and butter of parental debates. So called “experts” are trying to define the line between acceptable whippings and child abuse. Many of us grew up with beatings as the primary form of discipline, but are steering away from it as we become parents ourselves. The reasoning behind parents beating their kids can range from household to household. However, there are some common reasons we all are aware of:
- Spare the rod, spoil the child aka God said it’s okay
- Generational Habits aka my parents beat us and we turned out fine
- It works / it is the only thing that works aka my child misbehaves and I really don’t know how to actually parent them
I’m going to take a pause here to DEFINE what I mean by “beating”. I’m not talking ’bout a small pop on the hand. I’m talking belts, switches, extension cords, bare hands, hangers or whatever other creative objects parents find. Y’all know what I mean – the “whipping” session aka “I’m finna beatcho ass.”
So, with that being said:
4 Honest Reasons Why I Don’t Hit or Beat My Child
1. I don’t like her being afraid of me.
I want my child to respect me, not fear me. A lot of parents (including my daughter’s dad) would say, “You have to be their parent, not their friend”, but I will be first to say- I will be my daughter’s first best friend. Why? As she gets older, I want her to come to me about things. I believe it is important that she have someone she can talk to and be her beautifully flawed self without fear of repercussions. Me personally, I don’t like the idea of her being abused. Yes, I know abuse is a pretty loaded term but, to me, that’s what it is. I don’t want her to feel like she will get hit if she does something wrong. I don’t want her to be afraid of someone physically hitting her for any reason.
2. Hitting teaches hitting.
Kids exposed to hitting as a form of punishment will eventually hit someone else. I have even seen some kids spank their baby dolls as punishment for an imaginary incident. Physical punishment is a form of control and has been for centuries. We teach our kids that messing up in life will get your butt whipped and expect them to keep their hands to themselves in challenging situations. The sad part is that the kids aren’t hitting because they think it is the best option, they are hitting because it is the option they are most familiar with. Children mirror what they see and if passing licks is what they see, then passing licks is what they’ll do in similar situations with other people.
3. She Doesn’t Deserve To Be Beaten.
I believe my child is worthy of me taking out time to teach her instead of beat her. I have enough confidence in my child’s ability to listen to me. At the end of the day, she is in the learning seat and I have to remind myself that. It is expected of a child to mess up. You will teach them something and they will forget it or disregard it just as soon as you taught it to them. But that is what children do, they challenge their limits. They explore and test the waters with everything, including their parents. Our job as parents is to guide them in the right direction and help them develop the tools they need to survive in life. If I have to keep spanking her then maybe I need to reconstruct the way I am parenting her.
4. Physical discipline can be abusive or lead to abuse.
Spankings can go overboard when mixed with a toxic combination of emotions. Angry parents may hit their child too hard or may hit them in a place that may cross the line into abuse and unfortunately, there is a HUGE grey area on where to draw that line. There are several factors at play – how long or hard is the beating? How often is the beating What’s being used to beat the child? Who all is present when the beating takes place? None of these questions have a clear, unanimous answer. So, while some children may get five smacks on the bottom with their mom’s hand, other kids may get beat with a belt at full force until their parent just gets tired. That is borderline abuse, but it happens every day to children all over the country. As children get older and more difficult to keep in line, many parents switch from spankings to full-out physical blows using their bare hands. I’m sorry, but if you have to literally punch your child, something was done wrong on the parenting side.
Every moment is a teaching moment
4 Things I Do Instead
1. Talk To Her.
Communication is key. This also goes back to what I said earlier about being her friend and earning her respect. I view every moment as a teaching moment because every moment IS a teaching moment. I let her know when I don’t like something. Though I take a more friendly approach, my tone may not always be friendly. I talk to her and try to get an understanding of what was going on in her mind at the time of her misbehavior. We walk through what happened and we discuss her decision points. As her mom, I need to understand what made her do whatever she did, then, I can decide how to correct it. Our children are not just children; they are people too, just smaller versions. They have thoughts and emotions about the world around them just like we do. The only difference is they are less equipped to deal with their emotions and thoughts. They may lash out or misbehave instead, but you won’t know that’s what’s really going on if you don’t talk to them.
2. Withhold Something She Wants.
OHHHH! Let me just say from firsthand experience, this WORKS! I mean this is the bread and butter right here. Even when I was a kid, taking away my things was the best way to get me to do whatever you asked of me in hopes that I’d get my stuff back. As a parent, I take away fun activities for my little one or cancel fun plans when she is pushing my buttons. “No TV tonight” is far more effective than that whipping another parent would have dished out. Sometimes, after she gets a good fussing at, I will take a trip to the store just to rub it in her face that she can’t have anything due to her bad behavior. I mean it really pisses her off, but she gets the point and I am satisfied.
3. Time Out.
The old classic time-out. Sometimes, time-out can be in a corner, other times, it can be sitting right next to mommy while all the other kids run around having a good time. Sometimes, time-out is sitting in your room in silence to think about what you have done. Whatever time out may be for you, it is an effective way to discipline kids. My daughter’s dad even makes them exercise while standing in the corner, which I thought was a pretty effective twist to the old classic.
4. Spend Time With Her.
Children act out sometimes for attention. They may not even realize that is what they are doing and it isn’t really their job to realize it. Sometimes, just taking out a few hours to dedicate your FULL attention to your kid may help ease a lot of that harsh energy they are having. As a parent, it is important to know when your baby needs discipline and when they may need a little one on one time to fill their love pot back up. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, pop some popcorn, throw some pillows on the floor and put on a movie neither of you have seen and just spend that time together without interruption. That includes cell phones. Put your phone down and actually enjoy the movie with your little one. If they have been acting out, use that time to ease the conversation in there to figure out why. Sometimes, that’s honestly all they need, positive, constructive quality time with mom or dad.
In our society, it is unacceptable to put your hands on another person for any reason. Not just other adults, but other children as well. So why is it okay to beat our own children? I feel like parents who have to beat their kids aren’t doing the greatest job at parenting. It is our job to teach our children and to nurture their growth. I just don’t see how beating them helps teach them.