To Spank or Not to Spank?
I am (was) a smacker of small bottoms. And I still 100% absolutely stand behind every smack ever given to my kids. They didn’t get them often, but when they did they had it coming and they knew it and those smacks worked. There may have been tears, they went to their rooms, but when they came out they were sorry and whatever behavior had been going on, was GONE.
On Today.com it was announced here that France has just made spanking illegal. Parents are being asked to turn to other measures of discipline – like positive reinforcement instead. On December 22nd, the French parliament voted on a bill which outlaws all forms of corporal punishment, including caning, flogging and spanking.
The law was created to eradicate all forms of degrading, cruel and humiliating treatment of kids by their parents. And of course we would all agree to that. But spanking?
This is a highly emotive topic for most parents and few of us are even brave enough to put hands up and say “I believe in spanking”. It leaves the door wide open to be accused of being abusive or lazy and then comes the torrent of advice for the things you should be doing instead.
I can’t tell you whether spanking is right or wrong. I can only tell you that it worked for us in certain situations on rare occasions. Apart from genuinely abusive parents, no one ever wants to hit their child and I have born witness to parents in public; usually at our local supermarket hitting their kids in angry, aggressive and abusive ways which makes me cringe and makes me sad and makes me want to shake them.
And if you have a blanket policy that spanking is OK, then how do you police it?
- How often are you allowed to spank? Once a day? Once a week? Once every six months?
- How hard do you spank? How is that measured from one person to another?
- What do you spank with? A hand? A spoon? God no, never – but, belts?
- And what age is beginning spanking appropriate and at what age should it stop?
And then you have to factor in that people may believe spanking is the only answer instead of the last option and be abusive that way. Talk back to me? Spank. Trip your sister? Spank. Not out of bed fast enough? Spank.
So, yes a very complicated issue.
But…there are times. Definite times.
I did not believe in baby-proofing our house. Obviously immediate dangers were removed like bleach under the kitchen sink and medicine was locked up and heavy objects they could reach were shoved back into corners but by and large I used the word NO when toddlers started to toddle. NO – don’t eat the plant. NO – don’t open the cupboard. And they knew. They would look at me, eyes wide open – are you sure I can’t touch this. NO, I would say again. And if they continued it would be one, gentle slap on the top of their hand with NO repeated. And they learned very quickly and when we went to someone else’s home that wasn’t baby proofed NO, worked there too.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been stressed to the maximum when parents of toddlers whose homes ARE baby proofed to within an inch of their life (whereby every cupboard has a latch and not a single breakable object is on display) that they set their kids down in my house and I watch with panic while they head to my electrical cords and my cupboards and my hot oven while mum and dad sip their drinks oblivious to the fact that their child does not give a shit that I’m saying NO and their life is in imminent peril.
Learning the word no is so incredibly important. It can stop serious injuries or accidents in your own homes, other people’s homes and even running out into a street.
That was my number one reason to implement a smack.
The second reason was when I was out of other options. They were in that mood. Maybe that mood was unbreakable. Maybe they were testing their boundaries, throwing a fit; hurting their siblings, refusing to co-operate, whatever. Attempts at distraction had been employed, the serious voice has been employed, threats had been employed and then carried out and the behaviour was continuing. And as a last resort they were whipped around and a sharp whack to their backside sent them scurrying for cover. And it worked. They went to their room, cried for 5 minutes and then came out apologetic.
And it worked because it was very seldom used and when it was used they knew I had been pushed to my limit and that they had crossed that boundary.
And that’s why I believe in it. Maybe there are kids who always respond to gentle persuasion or to positive reinforcement (whatever the hell that is), or to the naughty corner or whatever and great. I salute you and your methods. Or you have the patience of a saint and can cope with sending them back to bed eleventy billion times or you ride out the melt-downs, tantrums and screaming like a boss. Also great.
I hope that no parent wants to humiliate, harm or hurt their child ever but there is a world of difference between degrading and hurting a child when you are filled with fury and rage to administering a well timed, well-placed smack to jolt the little terrors in their act of terrorism in the privacy of your own home. And I will stand by that.