Am I the perfect parent? No way!
Have I lost my cool while parenting? Yes!
Do I regret it? Yes!
Do I feel that I dealt with the situation in a positive light? Yes!
I truly feel that spanking is not necessary, but if dealt with appropriately (after the fact) it can be a learning experience for all involved. Now before you blast me, please read this article in full.
There are MANY things to try when teaching right from wrong before choosing to spank, such as gentle instruction, redirecting (distracting) the child, taking away a privilege or sending the child to timeout. Any of these options, supported by a strong foundation of love and respect, is the only truly effective way to bring about commendable behavior based on strong inner values, instead of superficially "good" behavior based only on fear.
In some emergency safety situations a small swat on the butt or hand may be useful to get a child’s attention. When my children were around 18 months and older, I had used a hand swat to teach my child that it was not okay to touch the stove or a flame. I had used a butt swat to teach my child that it was not okay to run out into the road. These types of situations came out of shear fear, due to the fact that I was terrified at that moment and reacted on impulse.
I followed up quickly by explaining to them what I was feeling, that their action was completely unacceptable and how harmful it could have turned out. I apologized that I spanked them and felt that we all needed to work on our impulse control. We all needed to slow ourselves down to be able to make better judgments.
I am finding that as they get older these emergency situations are becoming less frequent, since they better understand the potential danger involved in certain situations and are able to slow themselves down. Also, I have worked on not acting on my first impulse, but rather making sure that they are safe and then removing myself until I have calmed down.
Just recently Bella and Walter were outside in front of our home while we were talking with neighbors. When it was time to go inside they decided to run off. They said, “You can chase us mommy” and bolted. I was scared and furious. I tried to reason with them to come back but they giggled and ran. Now, I knew I did not want this chasing game to get out of hand, as they were running around the car in our driveway and down the sidewalk. My husband (Richard) grabbed one while I grabbed the other. At that very moment I did indeed want to spank and yell at them.
Instead, we decided to carry them inside and put them into time outs in different rooms. After I cooled down a bit, Richard and I talked loudly in the kitchen, away from them but loud enough for each of them to hear us. I said, “I am very scared and upset that they ran off like they did.” Richard said, “Yes, I am too. They should never run off like that. It can be very dangerous.” I said, “Let’s go get them and explain to them how they affected us and that what they did was unsafe.”
We then brought both of them together and explained in a very serious tone that what they did was unacceptable. I said, “Mommy and Daddy were very scared that you ran off and did not listen to us when we told you to stop.” I could see their mischievous grins had turned to concern. I then said, “Do you remember when Monkey (our dog) ran away and we could not find him?” They shook their heads yes. I said, “Remember how Mommy cried and we drove around calling out his name? Well that is what we are afraid could happen to you. We were scared that we would not be able to find you.”
At this point they seemed to understand the severity of the situation. Walter asked, “Why did Monkey run away?” I said, “The gate was left open and he simply walked out of the yard. I do not think that he meant to run off.” Bella said, “We were worried about Monkey.” Richard said, “Yes, and we were worried about you. We were very scared!” At this point they seemed to be reflecting on the events that led up to this point. Then Walter said, “Sorry Daddy.” Bella said, “Sorry.”
Why am I sharing this story? Well, I feel that I have done so much work and still continue to strive at becoming a skilled parent. I wanted to show you that all of us have had our breaking moments. It is important that we apologize to our children when we act out and to validate their feelings in the moment. We must do our best to control our own impulse in the heat of the moment. We all must strive to become skilled parents so that our children can one day (if they choose) become better parents themselves.
Here is what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about spanking: “The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking a child for any reason. If a spanking is spontaneous, parents should later explain calmly why they did it, the specific behavior that provoked it and how angry they felt. They also might apologize to their child for their loss of control. This usually helps the youngster to understand and accept the spanking, and it models for the child how to remediate a wrong.”
(Editor's Note: The opinions in this article are those of Parents “R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you arecontemplating.)