Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I was spanked as a child.
Hit with a metal flyswatter. Brush on the back of the knuckles. Ear pull. No prop “just use your hand” butt spank. Head smack. And a lot of yelling surrounding it all.
My mom remembers none of it.
Eventually I could run away faster and had a lock on the door. It was easy to wait till the angry threats of increased punishment if I came out “now” had passed. Even at school, children could be sent to the principal’s office to be paddled.
Now I have my own children.
From the outset, I knew I didn’t want to spank. I feel bad when I raise my voice — plus, I think have a seething anger rather than a loud kind since other folks in my family took up the soundscape with their anger. Time out just no longer makes sense to me.
When my conditioned (and conditional) parenting “techniques” are not working…What is left for me?
It’s not that I don’t feel like being domineering sometimes. I’ll admit that, especially with postpartum hormones and adjustment of having two, I find myself sometimes dreaming up little fantasies of grabbing my daughter by the arm and making her sit in the chair and forcing her to put her clothes on.
It would be so easy to use force to bend her to my will.
But I think my feelings around no spanking have caused me to question all uses of force. Sometimes I struggle to keep my power to a minimum when the messages around me are that I need to contain my children’s essence by “telling them who’s boss” or “making them obey.” I know I would never hit my daughter, but that is just one extreme of conditional parenting. If I manipulate my daughter through punishment (withdrawal of love or attention), bribery, yelling, praise or any other form of conditional love, I just feel something is off.
In these moments, when I’ve lost my cool but can’t find something to grasp on to, I have to go deeper. I have to call into question everything I am thinking and feeling. I examine it and try to make sense of it. I want to understand why I have these reactions and what actions I would like to take instead.
Here’s what I’ve realized is left, what’s beyond spanking and yelling and time outs:
Who doesn’t lose it once in a while? Make a mess sometimes? Get a little loud on accident?
Children aren’t trying to manipulate adults. They aren’t doing things “on purpose” just to annoy us and make work for us. Even actions of jealousy are not “to show me” something.
Our children’s behavior is a reflection of what is happening inside. The hard part for me as a parent is to accept that her behavior is in large part a result of my parenting. If I keep her fed, rested, hydrated, sufficiently sunned (outside time) and cuddled as best I can, we are both in general doing alright. If not, then I am going to see the strain of covering for that loss.
As a mother my actions and words should arise first and foremost from a compassionate place…..or else I should endeavor to keep my mouth shut.
In fact, right now I am working to start in with empathy and then the guidance rather than a “No” and then a lecture. A challenging, but worthy task, I can already tell.
When I am struggling, I want comfort. I want to know things are ok.
I snap at my husband. I lose my patience with my daughter. Even my floppy-armed baby boy can get on my nerves when I am not getting my needs me.
In those moments, what I want is a kind word, a hug, a drink of water, a quiet breath. My children deserve these things, too. When my daughter is losing it, I gesture or ask her if she needs a hug. Even if she says no, I can still communicate that I am there for her during this struggle by offering her comfort.
When I stop, drop and breathe, and gather my compassion, I find that my response increases the connection between us.
Where my child might run away or yell louder or push me away, there is a togetherness. We are having a hard time, but we are in it together. I don’t abandon her to her feelings and shame her for her exploration and learning.
By getting down to her level and staying with her in a calm way, I let my daughter know that her feelings are ok and we are ok.
It is through this same connection that the power of my example works its magic. One thing I know is true: If I want my children to do something or be some way, the surest way of getting that is to do and be that way myself.
After I have found within a place of compassion from which to work, acknowledged my daughter’s needs and validated her worthiness, I can now set a limit. By going through the other steps, rather than jumping straight to this one, I have a better chance of being heard. I have encouraged my daughter to shift rather than forced her into it through my words or actions.
In action, these might be like this:
- You are feeling angry because you want that toy and your brother has it.
- It’s hard to have to wait for something to want.
- [Drop down to her level and look her in the eye.] I see that this is important to you right now….
- ….but I need to keep you both safe and I won’t let you hit.
I want to love my child unconditionally, and I feel the more I can do that the more my child will embody these very qualities that I hold dear.
- Disadvantages of Time Out
- What Your Toddler Thinks of Disipline
- Teaching Children to Handle Their Emotions: The PIE Approach
- Compliance vs. Cooperation
- Why We Don’t Punish and What Discipline Is
- One Simple Tip That Will Have Your Toddler Cooperating with You and Feeling Proud
- What’s the Deal with Consequences?
- Gentle Discipline and Setting Boundaries
- 22 Alternatives to Punishment
- Reconsider Your Requests
On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- What Spanking Taught Me Meg at MommyStoleTheSugarexplains the spankee’s perspective and how it has affected her disciplining choices as a parent.
- A Memory of Spanking Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores her own upbringing and how it has affected her and why she is changing the way she relates to her children.
- Redirecting the Impulse to Spank Amy W. shares at Natural Parents Network about her experience redirecting the impulse to spank, and encourages all parents to respond with sensitivity and redirect anger before it becomes harmful.
- Perspective is Everything Patti at Canadian Unschooler learns to heal from the trauma caused by the childhood death of her sister, and gains a deeper understanding of her own mother’s love for her as a child.
- Remembering and Recharging Emily at The Other Baby Blog shares how she refocuses her mindset during high-stress times.
- Does spanking work? Megan at TheBehavioralChild lists the five reasons why spanking doesn’t work.
- Love is All There Is: A Spank Out Day Post Tree at Mom Grooves shares her thoughts about needing to find a way to discipline her 5 year old that could give her daughter the boundaries she is craving while still treating her with only love and respect.
- Discipline isn’t SOmething You Do; Discipline is SOmething You Have Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children questions how parents can expect their children to show self-control if they, themselves, do not exhibit slef-discipline.
- No Spanking, No Yelling, No Time Outs….What’s Left? Sheila at A Living Family shares that though spanked as a child herself, she has made efforts towards an alternative approach to setting limits.
- Forgiveness is possible; loving others in a way that works for us Kelly Hogaboom finds that if we are to raise our children in a humane fashion, we must first recognize our own humanity.
- Dear Daniel, (On Discipline and Love) Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son about the many choices we have in life: how we treat people, how we parent, and how we use our bodies in the process.
- Spanking: A Day to Consider Our Muddy Boots recognizes that some see a difference between abuse and spanking, and maybe today is a day that we can consider some other perspectives and utilize available resources to make different choices.
- Mutual Respect Sithyogini at Very Nearly Hippy learns how mutual respect between parents and children leads to peaceful parenting.
- I Hit My Kids and Now Begins The Real Work To Heal The Honesty Conspiracy hosts this powerful, anonymous story about how it’s never too late to start on a different approach to spanking.
- How To Talk To Parents About Gentle Alternatives To Spanking Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares some useful ways to discuss the often divisive issue of spanking.