I am not totally against the idea of corporal punishment.
But if my kid swats at my face one more time, I am totally putting him in time-out!
There are a lot of things about being a parent that can feel humiliating. For a guy, just using a word like “potty” or “baba” has the air of emasculation. But any dad worth his salt gets over that pretty quickly; you want to be a loving father, you gotta get down in the dirt with the cutesy shit. Maybe even violate your own blog’s mission statement by writing sappy love letters about your son. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be tough, too.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the modern rules of discipline, it’s hard to be tough.
My parents used to spank me and my brothers. Back in the 70s/early 80s, it just wasn’t a big deal, and when my parents did it, it certainly wasn’t abusive. I have no scars from their treatment of me, unless you count my aversion to zucchini. The psychological warfare waged over vegetables was a lot more damaging than the occasional swat from my mother’s wooden spoon.
Unlike most modern parents, older generations didn’t have any issues disciplining their kids the old-fashioned way. Maybe they were naive, maybe we’re just too sensitive, but I’m not convinced there’s much of a correlation between disciplinary spanking and abuse; it’s all about moderation and context.
Yet, despite my utter conviction that the occasional spanking is so not a big deal, it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll ever actually put my son across my knee and have at it. For one thing, Mom and Buried is totally against it. And, in spite of my
Buffalo tough stance, I don’t love the idea either. So we’re trying other things.
Unfortunately, time outs don’t work.
The time-out is the equivalent of putting Baby in the corner: neither the baby nor the person doing it knows exactly what it means. (Seriously. Was Johnny really that concerned about the seating arrangements at dinner? Couldn’t Baby just scooch over a little? Or switch with Mrs. Gilmore? There’s no need to get all aggro-dancy about it. Just ask for a different table.)
Maybe it’s because my kid is barely two years old, but putting him in “time out” doesn’t accomplish much. Sure, for a few minutes he’s out of my hair, but I haven’t seen indication one that he links his bad behavior with those few moments of isolation. When I go to set him free, he’s often having a blast talking to and playing with his stufties, clearly having forgotten what he was being punished for, that he was even being punished in the first place.
To be fair, at this age even spanking probably wouldn’t change much either. If I punched him in the face and broke his nose he’d probably forget about it once we got back from the hospital. At most he’d just be scared of me. Which, come to think of it, might be more effective, Machiavelli(not Tupac)-style, but I don’t want him to grow up scared of me. I only want him to be scared of me when he’s a teenager, at which point pulling down his pants and putting him over my knee would raise a whole different set of issues.
So while spanking may not be the answer, I’m not quite ready to totally dismiss it. Yeah, he’s too young for it right now, but that doesn’t mean it might not be a decent option later. Things are getting a bit out of hand and something more punitive than a time out may eventually be needed. Especially if you ask my parents. And probably yours too. I bet they spanked the shit out of you.
Hell, you probably liked it.
6 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Parenting”
I got spanked a couple of times, always in anger, and it did actually stick as unfair and scary. I also spanked my own kids a couple of times and, sadly, have to admit that it wasn’t like Pa calmly talking halfpint out to the barn for a whooping that hurt him more than it hurt her. I was mad. But I never hurt beat my kids for sure. Now timeout – I’m a master user. Some hints: it should be the minutes of the age of the child up to five and then the child should be released quickly following that once showing calm. People make the mistake of leaving kids too long and they start to make-believe play, or sing, or relax etc. Or, they keep engaging with them throughout the timeout period. They need to have no engagement at all, have the place be not preferred (like a bottom step of a stair or a small foot stool reserved for that purpose), and have it short and sweet. Also, should only be used for a few very specific behaviours (like hitting) so the link is clear. Good luck!
Mine are 17 and 19 now and so far so good. No more timeouts and I’m still the boss 😉
I was a heck of a number as a kid, always getting myself in all sorts of trouble. I also used to get spanked whenever I broke something/misbehaved. Spanking was the main punishment method my parents used and I got spanked like… every single day. For years. Yup, that’s how effective it was at teaching me to behave. At some point I was terrified of my parents. Then I actually started trying to hit them back and would get really aggressive towards them. I’d say I grew up to be a pretty sweet, nice and decent human being after all. I’m always very non-confrontational and gentle with everyone around me. I have infinite patience and get along well with bloody everyone I ever meet…. well… apart for my parents that is. They are the ONLY people in the entire world whom the grown-up version of me can literally find itself shamelessly snapping at or lashing out at very aggressively. Sometimes the change occurs in the blink of an eye and I’m left baffled at my own sudden cruelty or anger which might have been triggered over the most mundane of things. The sky needs to fall on me twice before I even get mildly irritated by anything anyone else does, even the stuff most people would get triggered at… but with my parents it takes only the tiniest of slips to make me snap like a crazy woman.
Karen I am sorry you had to go throw all that. And I am not going to defend your parents, like I am sure that many people do around anyway. But I would like to offer an advice if I may. Don’t let yourself get pissed for any reason. You are losing days of your life, and noone is worth it.
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Our son is 22 months old and we ate expirencing the same problems that you are with hitting and sometimes biting. The timeout didn’t really work for us either, he just didn’t seem to “get it”.
I read about the time in. This is where you remove the kid from the situation and take them to the same place where you do timeout but stay with them and explain what they did wrong. You control the child’s tenptement by explaining to them calmly what they did wrong, how it made you feel and why they shouldn’t be doing it. Ultimately you areremoving them from the situation and calming them down which was the goal all along. Give it a try, it worked for us.
So my wife and I spank our kids. We also do time outs, taking their toys, make then watch their siblings play while they can’t, etc. For the youngest one, (a year old and change) a slap of the hand teaches him not to touch the dog food. Yes, he doesn’t like it the first 2 times, but as long as we are watching, he learned. The main thing is staying consistent, and when they get to the 2 year old stage, explain why they ate getting punished. Trust me, they can’t communicate, but they understand A LOT more than they let on.
Time out tip: if they have toys with them, then it’s not time out. It’s play time somewhere else.
Finally: we believe in progressive discipline. Stay small, and keep a nuke (spanking, in our case) in your back pocket. They should believe that there is always something worse that can happen to them. (1 Warning, 2 timeouts, spanking, I throw their toys in the dumpster and make them watch, etc).