I Quit Spanking

I Quit Spanking August 10, 2010
We stopped spanking a year ago this month. And I would never go back.

I had read the Christian parenting books like “To train up a Child” and “Raising Godly Tomatoes” and tried to the best of my ability to follow what they taught. I spanked consistently. I tried to stay cool calm and collected, and to not spank in anger. I used a wooden spoon so my kids would not associate my hands with pain, and I was careful to limit my swats and never leave a mark on my children.

It didn’t work. And looking back I can hardly believe that I fell for the reasoning for spanking when I grew up being spanked myself, and I remember how it made me feel. I can hardly believe the things that I used to consider spanking offences. I can hardly believe how much my parenting has changed. And I can hardly believe how well my children behave after being taught my whole life that it was impossible to teach children respect and boundaries without spanking them.

I could ramble on and on about why I prefer gentle discipline, but since I’ve already done that in the past, I think I will share some of what has changed in our house since that day last August.

Three ways my children are different:

1. My children trust me.
When we used spanking, my children would run away if they thought they were in trouble. They would lie automatically after doing something wrong. Not anymore. They will even come to me for help when something gets out of control. My 3 1/2 year old doesn’t cover her bottom when she sees me coming towards her. My kids know that I will not hurt them, they know they don’t have to be afraid of me.

2. My children are less violent and more sympathetic.

Before we stopped spanking, my children would hit each other when they were arguing. Not anymore, we still have a few shoves here and there when competing for a toy, but for the most part violence is gone. We haven’t had a biting incident in a year. Before we stopped spanking, my kids didn’t care when someone else was hurt, usually because they had caused it! Now, (to my joy!) my kids offer hugs and kisses when someone is crying or sad. It is so heart-warming to have your baby run up to you and ask what is wrong and if you are OK?

3. My children are better at communicating because they know I care about how they feel.

When we used spankings for discipline my kids didn’t even try to talk about what was wrong. Tantrums abounded. If something went wrong it was the end of the world. Now both Ms Action and Ms Drama try to talk about their feelings. Even when they have a hard time explaining what is wrong, they know I am listening, they know they are heard.

3 ways I am different:

1. I am not as angry.

It was never my intention to be an angry parent, in fact I was in denial about my anger the whole time spanking was our discipline. But I was always fighting rage just under the surface. Why weren’t these brats listening to me? Why did I suck as a parent? Memories of being spanked as a kid were always lurking in my mind. I lived in fear of the day when just one spank would not be enough to deter my small children. Now I find I am a calmer, happier parent. I don’t yell as much as I used to (yes I’m still working on that one) I don’t see every little thing as a catastrophe anymore. Instead of exploding or leading my kid away for a spanking, I can deal with whatever mishaps that occur with my thinking skills and without fear and without the dread of having to hit my kid again.

2. I listen to my children

Before I stopped spanking, I didn’t care what my kids were saying. They were just trying to manipulate me anyways. I didn’t have time to delay discipline and listen, punishment had to be swift if it was going to be connected to the misdeed in their little minds. Now I have learned that my children really can tell me what happened, and since we use gentle discipline they aren’t trying to lie to me to avoid a spanking. I’ve also spared myself the many times where my children would have been spanked for “rebellion” by learning to listen to what is really wrong.

3. I have less regrets.

When I spanked I felt like a crappy mom. Every night in bed I wondered what would happen if I died, would my kids remember me as an angry mom that hit them? Or worse, what if one of my babies died in the night? Would I regret every time I “disciplined” them. Now I sleep peacefully. I no longer have those times where I make the same exact mistake that I punished my child for earlier that day. Or those horrible moments where I figured out later that it really wasn’t their fault.

I’ve shared some of the books that I’ve read on discipline since we quit spanking, and I expressed frustration on the lack of good information out there. Since then I have found so much more on gentle discipline! I’ve liked some of the books ordered from my library so much that I am hoping to buy them. I will be sharing those titles in a future post.

Another great resource that I’ve finally been able to tap into is the Internet. My first attempts were fruitless, but over the last year I have found more and more like-minded parents seeking to discipline their children gently. There are several websites that have really encouraged me as I struggled with whether or not we were making the right choice for our family, so I will be sharing some of those as well.

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