This is the spatula I use.
Yes, to spank. Ohhhhh there is so much controversy surrounding this issue. But nevertheless, I will unashamedly give you my two cents in this article. For the spanking parents out there, I will share with you just how I spank my children and why. If you do not believe in spanking, this article is definitely not for you. Click here to read Krystle K’s “Gentle Discipline” article before you start to freak out. 😉 You might also be interested to know that I haven’t had to spank my girls in months. For us, spanking is not a daily or even weekly thing because we have set up clear boundaries, and our girls (most often) choose to stay within those boundaries.
We have said many times here at The Snap Mom that we are for all moms. Spanking moms and non-spanking moms. You might be surprised that 4 in 5 americans (that’s 81%) believe spanking their children is sometimes appropriate.(source) I have been asked time and time again for this article but I wanted to make sure it best represented my heart as a mom and the edifying manor in which I choose to spank my children. So here we go…
Is spanking abuse?
The way I spank and the way I was spanked as a child? No. Far from abusive. There is a vast difference between assaulting a child, leaving physical and emotional scars, and using spanking as a tool to discipline and teach. And yet, in our society the two are lumped into one category.
Think of it like this: you could take “time out” to an abusive level as well, leaving a child in a closet or locked room for hours on end, but that would be very different than how my 2-year-old serves her well deserved time out for 2 minutes on the landing. See the difference? Of course you do.
What is the intent?
I believe that your intent in parenting often dictates whether your methods of discipline remain respectful or cross into abuse.
When I spank my children, the heart behind it is this: I love them too much to let them get away with unacceptable behavior and I want to raise respectful and well behaved human beings that change the world for good with passion and a security in themselves.
How I Lovingly Spank My Children
1. Clear warning. Your first interaction with your child about a situation should be verbal. A child should never be blindsided by the discipline you hand down to her. It should always be preceded by a clear warning, both for her sake and for yours. You want to know whether your child deliberately crossed a line or made an honest mistake. A clear warning will help her steer clear of danger and will help you know you’re correcting intentional disobedience.
The enforcement of discipline comes only after words alone have not done the job. Physical means of correction are only appropriate in cases of clear disobedience, and then only at certain ages.
2. Establish responsibility. It’s important for your child to own up to his misbehavior. Many parents make the mistake of asking, “Why did you do that?” That’s not a good question; “why” doesn’t help him admit his responsibility in the situation. That question gives him room to inject shades of gray into his understanding and explanations. He’ll begin to rationalize, and you’ll lose sight of the real issue. Here’s a better way to go about it:
“Johnny, what did you do wrong?”
“Nothing. Everyone was going over to that house, and I just went in for a minute.”
“Try again. What did you do wrong?”
“I only went in to …”
“I’m going to give you one more chance. What did we talk about?”
“I’m not supposed to go over there for any reason.”
“So what did you do wrong?”
“I disobeyed you.”
Do you see how, with that kind of conversation, you’re calm, controlled, and not trying to punish? You’re trying to help him learn. Remember that your child can’t learn without being able to own up to his responsibility. No one can. When you put your child in a position of having to do that, you’re preparing him for responsible adulthood.
Remember to always keep your focus on the child’s behavior, not his identity. If Johnny says, “I’m a bad person” or “You don’t like me anymore,” affirm how much he is loved and how special he is, but turn his attention immediately back to his actions. You want him to understand that the act was wrong and that he is fully capable of doing the right thing.
3. Avoid embarrassment. Never embarrass your children in front of their friends, siblings, or even strangers. Don’t yank them out of a booth at a restaurant, don’t yell where everyone around can hear you, or do anything else that will make your children feel as if all eyes are on them. All that accomplishes is shame. Instead, go to a private place. At home, that can be the bedroom. In public, it can be a trip to the restroom for a young child or a firm statement that “we need to talk later” to an older child. However you do it, don’t damage your kids’ esteem among their peers or even among strangers. Embarrassment can do a lot of damage that you’ll have a hard time undoing later on.
4. Communicate grief. I want my children to know that more than being angry, I’m disappointed and heartbroken when they disobey. Early on in their lives, I let them know I trusted them. And when that trust has been violated, they need to know that the relationship is wounded. Many times I’ve had tears roll down my face when their actions hurt me and betrayed our relationship.
5. Flick your wrist. This is an extremely practical method that will save you a lot of second-guessing. Remember the point of a spanking: It’s to sting, to provide a deterrent to misbehavior, not to injure.
*When you spank, use a wooden spoon or some other appropriately sized paddle or spatula and flick your wrist. That’s all the force you need.
Have the child lean over his bed and make sure you apply the discipline with a quick flick of the wrist to the fatty tissue of the buttocks, where a sting can occur without doing any damage to the body. You want to be calm, in control, and focused as you firmly spank your child, being very careful to respect his body.
6. Unconditional love. For my part, some of the most intimate, touching moments I ever had with my kids were right after exercising discipline. If you’re consistent with the actions of discipline for a few weeks, you’ll find that your children have clear boundaries, and they’re likely to have a clearer conscience and changed behavior. You’ll probably sense much less destructive stress in your home environment as well. Your children will feel a lot more loved, and they’ll have the privilege and blessing of being in a home that’s at peace.
- Never spank in anger; give clear warning
- Never spank with your hand; always use a spatula or wooden spoon
- Establish WHY they are getting spanked; communicate grief over deliberate disobedience
- Love on your child after and teach them to make things right; “I’m sorry for _______, Mommy, please forgive me.”
- Affirm your child and their ability to make good choices
You may not always get this right, and in the event that you spank in anger or without clear warning, DO NOT hesitate to ask your child to forgive you. Teaching them that Mom and Dad aren’t perfect either is a humbling yet healthy practice.
PHOTO CREDIT: MARK BARRETT/PHOTOLIBRARY/GETTY IMAGES