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JustaGrandma

To spank or not to spank?

85 posts in this topic

I read once that a primary difference between abuse and actual discipline is predictability.  The idea being a child can control with her own behavior whether or not she gets disciplined.

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My oldest was taught in school that anything over three swats was for the parents benifit not the childs. This was in 5th grade. I wasn't a spanker did give an accasional swat of the rearend with an open hand once in a great while to get thier attention while have a melt down in usally a parking lot or trying to cross a road. They where teaching the kids about all kinds of abuse and I ended up going to find out just what they where being taught after asking him to pick up his room and he gives me the teacher taught us we have the right to say no to adults any time we are uncomfortable. They where trying to teach good touch bad touch.

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I read once that a primary difference between abuse and actual discipline is predictability.  The idea being a child can control with her own behavior whether or not she gets disciplined.

 

Meaning that, for example, if it's discipline, it won't happen if the child follows the rules, etc? But if it's abuse it's more random? Interesting definitions!

 

My oldest was taught in school that anything over three swats was for the parents benifit not the childs. This was in 5th grade. I wasn't a spanker did give an accasional swat of the rearend with an open hand once in a great while to get thier attention while have a melt down in usally a parking lot or trying to cross a road. They where teaching the kids about all kinds of abuse and I ended up going to find out just what they where being taught after asking him to pick up his room and he gives me the teacher taught us we have the right to say no to adults any time we are uncomfortable. They where trying to teach good touch bad touch.

 

Interesting point about the "three swats," IMO, Justa! Also love the story about being able to "say no to adults." It must have been aggravating, at the time, I know. But isn't it amazing - and funny, too - how kids, sometimes, interpret things? ;)

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My oldest was taught in school that anything over three swats was for the parents benifit not the childs. This was in 5th grade. I wasn't a spanker did give an accasional swat of the rearend with an open hand once in a great while to get thier attention while have a melt down in usally a parking lot or trying to cross a road. They where teaching the kids about all kinds of abuse and I ended up going to find out just what they where being taught after asking him to pick up his room and he gives me the teacher taught us we have the right to say no to adults any time we are uncomfortable. They where trying to teach good touch bad touch.

 

The good touch/bad touch & spanking is where I have a problem in discerning the difference, so I can't imagine a young child being able to differentiate too.  Because no matter what, spanking is going to be a bad touch in the childs world.  It sends mixed message, imho, to the child & seems to pay lip service to bad touch, but spanking reinforces that it is ok.  I don't believe the average child will be able to discern the difference & if they are spanked & something else happens at another time from an adult giving them the bad touch, will the child feel confident to inform anyone?  After all, their parents spanked them & that is a bad touch.

 

FTR, I'm not saying spanking is bad touch.  It's just the distinctions between the two are blurred in a childs world, in a sense.

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Tinker this is something I wonder about also...we tell kids now that if an adult ever makes them feel uncomfortable they should Tell Someone even if they're sure they won't be believed. Reading how Brit felt being spanked (small, humiliated, powerless) those sound like Exactly the kind of feelings were teaching kids to listen to and that are Not Ok.

I am curious for those who do spank--did your children ever hit others? If so what did you do about it.

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This is where the conversation gets a little out of my league, but I do remember watching on 20/20 or some other similar type of news show that had a discussion on spanking.  Some adult fetish spankers recalled that their first sexual experience was being spanked because of how close in proximity it was to their reproductive organs.  This was probably done by the spankers who pull down the pants & spanked out of anger, so probably a bit out of control vs the spankers who gives a couple swats & that's it.

 

But, it does make me think that since it is so close to their genitalia, a small child might confuse the two - spanking & bad touch. 

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WWU: I read once that a primary difference between abuse and actual discipline is predictability.  The idea being a child can control with her own behavior whether or not she gets disciplined.

 

RR: Meaning that, for example, if it's discipline, it won't happen if the child follows the rules, etc? But if it's abuse it's more random? Interesting definitions!

 

Exactly.  With discipline, a child knows when I do X, then Y will happen to me.  So the child can formulate, if I don't want Y to happen to me, then I don't do X.   Which is the point of discipline.   That's how the child is in control of whether or not Y happens to them.

 

But with abuse, it's more arbitrary.  Every day the child says the D word and nothing happens.   One day dad has a bad day at work, the child says the D word as the parents have allowed every day, but that day the child is sent to the room the rest of the night without any supper.  Dad's not doing any actual disciplining, he's abusing his power to take his frustrations out on a child.  

 

That can be one of the scariest things about abuse for the victim.   They never quite know what's going to set their abuser off.  What's fine and acceptable behavior one day is "cause" for a smack out of the blue the next.   So in that sense, the difference between abuse and discipline may not be about if a child is hit (or punished), but how predictable getting hit (or punished) is for the child.

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I am curious for those who do spank--did your children ever hit others? If so what did you do about it.

 

My parents spanked me and my mother slapped me when I "sassed" her or said something disrespectful.  I have to admit that I did (and sometimes still do) have a "mouth" on me.  I do recall that there was a period of time when I was in 5th or 6th grade that I slapped a couple of my female friends because they were making fun of me or making jokes at my expense.  Those girls didn't want to be my friend anymore for good reason.  I learned quickly that you cannot slap your friends and expect to stay friends. 

 

My brother and SIL spank my 3 year old niece when she doesn't listen to them.  She is a real pistol.  She has a lot of spirit and sometimes it is a challenge to get her to follow instructions or to stop misbehaving.  I have noticed that she likes to spank her dolls and has demanded that I spank my son when she thinks my son is misbehaving. 

 

I think in general, toddlers like to hit.  It's one of the ways they test boundaries and figure out limits.  My son is going through a hitting phase right now.  He hasn't hit other kids, just me and my husband.  I will admit it is challenging to not get angry at him and I do have to stifle the impulse to spank him because that is how I was disciplined (especially when he has hit one of us repeatedly).  I wonder if I would still have that impulse if my parents had not spanked me.  I have to remind myself that I don't want to teach him not to hit by hitting him.  I am doing research to find alternate methods of dealing with the hitting. 

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Brito, my parents got my brothers punching bags for little kids.  I can't remember the name of it, it's those ones that you can knock down & they pop back up.  My brothers aren't violent adults, so I don't think it taught them to hit all the time when they are angry.  But like you said, I think it is a common toddler reaction to hit because they cannot verbally express what they want & that is frustrating for anyone in that kind of position.  It's probably not an ideal idea, but just thought I'd throw it out there.

 

Oh and that reminds me, my DD went through a shrieking phase around her toddler years when she was angry.  We got her a special pillow that she could go shriek in, so she could put a voice to her anger, but only into the pillow.  It worked, and no, she doesn't shriek anymore.

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Brito, my parents got my brothers punching bags for little kids.  I can't remember the name of it, it's those ones that you can knock down & they pop back up.  My brothers aren't violent adults, so I don't think it taught them to hit all the time when they are angry.  But like you said, I think it is a common toddler reaction to hit because they cannot verbally express what they want & that is frustrating for anyone in that kind of position.  It's probably not an ideal idea, but just thought I'd throw it out there.

 

Oh and that reminds me, my DD went through a shrieking phase around her toddler years when she was angry.  We got her a special pillow that she could go shriek in, so she could put a voice to her anger, but only into the pillow.  It worked, and no, she doesn't shriek anymore.

 

I like those ideas!  I am trying to help him verbalize how he's feeling by asking him if he's mad at me or DH and telling him it's okay to be mad at us.  I want him to know it's okay to be frustrated or angry and I want him to have an outlet for it, just not one that involves hitting another person.  So, thank you for the ideas!  I think we may try them. 

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"Weebles wobble...but they don't fall down"  A very catching commercial tune from my childhood.

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I am curious for those who do spank--did your children ever hit others? If so what did you do about it.

 

I spanked my kids but we didn't have an issue with them ever hitting others. I don't think either one of them were ever in a fight in their life.

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My toddler has never hit people.  She pushes her sister out of the way sometimes when she is going after the same toy.  Your question assumes a premise, however, that "spankers" use spanking for all punishment...and I would feel pretty confident that most "spankers" use it as one type of punishment, but not the only type of punishment.  For us, pushing her sister is not a "spanking" offense.

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My toddler has never hit people. She pushes her sister out of the way sometimes when she is going after the same toy. Your question assumes a premise, however, that "spankers" use spanking for all punishment...and I would feel pretty confident that most "spankers" use it as one type of punishment, but not the only type of punishment. For us, pushing her sister is not a "spanking" offense.

FedUp, I was not presuming that spankers spank their kids for hitting others. I'm asking what happens when they imitate the behavior of their parents? Do you tell them hitting is wrong? I'm guessing its irrelevant in your case if your kids never hit.

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DH was pro spanking before LO. We had a talk about it and I asked him if he thought it would be okay for him to spank me if I did something he didn't think I should do. He said of course not. So I asked, "So you don't think it's okay to spank someone your own size but it's perfectly fine to spank someone 1/4 of your size?" He said, "Good point! No spanking."

I think E asked a great question. If you are a Spanker and your child hits someone what do you say? Telling them hitting is bad would send mixed signals. Do you tell them that it's only okay for adults to spank children?

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I never had much of an opinion about spanking when I first had children, and with my ODD I did occasionally pop her on the butt for something like touching a hot stove or running into the street. I can remember the last time I did spank her: I was angry when she would not do something I asked and I spanked her butt in my frustration. She was about 4 and it scared me that I could lose control and do such a thing. I never did it again, and did not so much as pop my other two after that either. I realized that there were much more effective ways to discipline. I found that speaking to them firmly was much better than hitting them.

My ODD has never hit GS and does not need to. She will remove him from a situation when he misbehaves and he hates that more than anything else.

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FedUp, I was not presuming that spankers spank their kids for hitting others. I'm asking what happens when they imitate the behavior of their parents? Do you tell them hitting is wrong? I'm guessing its irrelevant in your case if your kids never hit.

If you are using spanking in an appropriate manner and as an effective discipline tool, it is nothing like "hitting".  There isn't any "difference" to explain because if done correctly, it's not a confusing issue. 

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Fedup, not to put you on the spot, but what is the difference in spanking and hitting?  I'm genuinely curious and this is not said in a snarky way at all.  I guess maybe I'm asking how exactly do you spank?  There are those who pull the kids pants down & spank, those who swat on the behind through clothes etc.  Maybe clarifying spanking will help the conversation here because I think people have set ideas about what spanking is, like I said about the conversation with my friend, I had always assumed spanking was done out of anger & snap decision.

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First of all, spanking is not the first choice for discipline, really for any situation that I can think of off hand. I actually wouldn't even spank FIRST for running into the street.  It is also not a form of discipline to be used when there is company or when friends are around (I think this is embarrassing even to toddlers).  On one occasion that ODD did something that was "spanking" worthy, the 2 of us went off into her bedroom...none of her friends or mine knew exactly what we were doing (other than knowing ODD was in trouble), then when she was calmed down and ready to be obedient we came back out.  For the most part, spanking in our house is for flagrant/willful disobedience...and then, as I said, it is not the first line discipline...but if ODD, for instance, does XYZ and gets a time out, then does XYZ again and gets removed from the situation, and then goes and does XYZ AGAIN...she is going to get a spanking.

 

How I spank:

1) James Dobson talks about this a bit, but I don't believe in using my hand...I think that a child should never be confused about if your hands are loving or a form of punishment.  Perhaps this is one of the differences between spanking and hitting for us.  We have a small wooden spatula (much like a specified time out seat or rug)

2) Spanking should be age appropriate...we did not start using spanking until ODD was nearly 2 and very clearly understood what she was being punished for and what the punishment was.  I don't know exactly what our cut-off age will be, but I would guess around 6-7.

3) Spanking should never, EVER, be done in anger.  In a practical sense, I am usually angry when DD has done something that she is going to get a spanking for....so our steps are this: 1) DD does XYZ, gets time out or some other punishment...is told at the end of time out (in our post-punishment talk/hug)...DD, if you do XYZ again you are going to get a spanking....do you understand? 2) DD, you just did XYZ again after I told you not to do XYZ.  I told you that you would get a spanking if you did XYZ again.  Go to your room, I will be there in a minute.  3) I calm down, go to room.  Spanking is with spanking spoon, over clothes...this next part doesn't make sense unless you do it...but a spanking should be just hard enough to sting for a few seconds, but not hard enough to cause redness or real pain.  (Lest you worry that we are hurting them, I can assure you that this actually causes for some comical spankings the first few times as your natural instinct to protect your child causes you to spank with barely a tap the first few times until you learn what is the right amount).  4) Just like any punishment, we then talk about the offense, the reason for punishment, and end with hugs.

 

 

If you are truly interested in learning about how or why someone might choose to spank, James Dobson "The New Dare to Discipline" and "Parenting isn't for cowards" are great.

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First of all, spanking is not the first choice for discipline, really for any situation that I can think of off hand. I actually wouldn't even spank FIRST for running into the street.  It is also not a form of discipline to be used when there is company or when friends are around (I think this is embarrassing even to toddlers).  On one occasion that ODD did something that was "spanking" worthy, the 2 of us went off into her bedroom...none of her friends or mine knew exactly what we were doing (other than knowing ODD was in trouble), then when she was calmed down and ready to be obedient we came back out.  For the most part, spanking in our house is for flagrant/willful disobedience...and then, as I said, it is not the first line discipline...but if ODD, for instance, does XYZ and gets a time out, then does XYZ again and gets removed from the situation, and then goes and does XYZ AGAIN...she is going to get a spanking.

 

How I spank:

1) James Dobson talks about this a bit, but I don't believe in using my hand...I think that a child should never be confused about if your hands are loving or a form of punishment.  Perhaps this is one of the differences between spanking and hitting for us.  We have a small wooden spatula (much like a specified time out seat or rug)

2) Spanking should be age appropriate...we did not start using spanking until ODD was nearly 2 and very clearly understood what she was being punished for and what the punishment was.  I don't know exactly what our cut-off age will be, but I would guess around 6-7.

3) Spanking should never, EVER, be done in anger.  In a practical sense, I am usually angry when DD has done something that she is going to get a spanking for....so our steps are this: 1) DD does XYZ, gets time out or some other punishment...is told at the end of time out (in our post-punishment talk/hug)...DD, if you do XYZ again you are going to get a spanking....do you understand? 2) DD, you just did XYZ again after I told you not to do XYZ.  I told you that you would get a spanking if you did XYZ again.  Go to your room, I will be there in a minute.  3) I calm down, go to room.  Spanking is with spanking spoon, over clothes...this next part doesn't make sense unless you do it...but a spanking should be just hard enough to sting for a few seconds, but not hard enough to cause redness or real pain.  (Lest you worry that we are hurting them, I can assure you that this actually causes for some comical spankings the first few times as your natural instinct to protect your child causes you to spank with barely a tap the first few times until you learn what is the right amount).  4) Just like any punishment, we then talk about the offense, the reason for punishment, and end with hugs.

 

 

If you are truly interested in learning about how or why someone might choose to spank, James Dobson "The New Dare to Discipline" and "Parenting isn't for cowards" are great.

 

My parents spanked my brother and me in a similar manner - meaning they never did it angry, used warnings, and did it only for really egregious behavior.  They didn't really do timeouts but we would get warnings first and then if we continued misbehaving we'd be sent to our room where we would have to wait for them.  My parents used the time to calm down and I think also for the intimidation factor.  Waiting to be spanked was like torture sometimes.  My parents spanked up until we were around 6th grade age and possibly into junior high. I can't exactly remember.  My mom did it primarily because my father would hit too hard.  My mom first used her bare hands and then had to progress to using one of my dad's belts because the spanking would make her hand throb.  The other reason she switched to a belt is because my brother was pretty tough and after a while he didn't even flinch from the spankings and one time laughed after she finished spanking him because it didn't hurt that much.  The belt was no fun.  I was always a total baby about pain and I hated the belt.  When I was pregnant and mentioned to my family that I was taking classes to prepare because I didn't want an epidural they mocked me because I was such a baby about pain and I distinctly remember my mom laughing at the idea that I could tough it out without an epidural because when she spanked me I started crying even before the belt touched me.  My mom thought it was hilarious.  I didn't and the image of her laughing at me was what kept me going through 48 hours of labor without an epidural. 

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Thanks for the info, Fed.  I will probably look into those books, it's an interesting perspective.

 

Brito, I'm so sorry :(

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brito,

I know that your mother really hurt your feelings. I am sorry for how you felt about her comment.   Dr. Dobson is a great writer.  I did read the first Dare to Discipline 27 years ago.  It helped me understand some things.  My Older Daughter has ADHD and I am sure ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder).  She was never diagnosed with ODD but she has all the symptoms still.  Time outs worked the best with my ODD.  I wished there was internet 20 years ago to be able to read information in a few seconds.  I believe it would have helped me be a better mother.  I always wanted to do the best job I could. I tried so hard with her. I had a difficult time with my DD and still do today.  I am raising her children. 

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Many people of my age( the spare the rod and spoil the child age) had the *@#&* beat out of us. You can guess how I feel about it.

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The good touch/bad touch & spanking is where I have a problem in discerning the difference, so I can't imagine a young child being able to differentiate too.  Because no matter what, spanking is going to be a bad touch in the childs world.  It sends mixed message, imho, to the child & seems to pay lip service to bad touch, but spanking reinforces that it is ok.  I don't believe the average child will be able to discern the difference & if they are spanked & something else happens at another time from an adult giving them the bad touch, will the child feel confident to inform anyone?  After all, their parents spanked them & that is a bad touch.

 

FTR, I'm not saying spanking is bad touch.  It's just the distinctions between the two are blurred in a childs world, in a sense.

 

I wonder about this, too. IMO, the good touch/bad touch message has put a different face on the spanking issue, as well as many others. It's one of the reasons I would avoid spanking now, even if YDD was ok with it.

 

Exactly.  With discipline, a child knows when I do X, then Y will happen to me.  So the child can formulate, if I don't want Y to happen to me, then I don't do X.   Which is the point of discipline.   That's how the child is in control of whether or not Y happens to them.

 

But with abuse, it's more arbitrary.  Every day the child says the D word and nothing happens.   One day dad has a bad day at work, the child says the D word as the parents have allowed every day, but that day the child is sent to the room the rest of the night without any supper.  Dad's not doing any actual disciplining, he's abusing his power to take his frustrations out on a child.  

 

That can be one of the scariest things about abuse for the victim.   They never quite know what's going to set their abuser off.  What's fine and acceptable behavior one day is "cause" for a smack out of the blue the next.   So in that sense, the difference between abuse and discipline may not be about if a child is hit (or punished), but how predictable getting hit (or punished) is for the child.

 

Thanks for clarifying, WWU!

 

 

My parents spanked my brother and me in a similar manner - meaning they never did it angry, used warnings, and did it only for really egregious behavior.  They didn't really do timeouts but we would get warnings first and then if we continued misbehaving we'd be sent to our room where we would have to wait for them.  My parents used the time to calm down and I think also for the intimidation factor.  Waiting to be spanked was like torture sometimes.  My parents spanked up until we were around 6th grade age and possibly into junior high. I can't exactly remember.  My mom did it primarily because my father would hit too hard.  My mom first used her bare hands and then had to progress to using one of my dad's belts because the spanking would make her hand throb.  The other reason she switched to a belt is because my brother was pretty tough and after a while he didn't even flinch from the spankings and one time laughed after she finished spanking him because it didn't hurt that much.  The belt was no fun.  I was always a total baby about pain and I hated the belt.  When I was pregnant and mentioned to my family that I was taking classes to prepare because I didn't want an epidural they mocked me because I was such a baby about pain and I distinctly remember my mom laughing at the idea that I could tough it out without an epidural because when she spanked me I started crying even before the belt touched me.  My mom thought it was hilarious.  I didn't and the image of her laughing at me was what kept me going through 48 hours of labor without an epidural. 

 

Brit, my heart goes out to you! And trust me, a lot of moms are afraid of the pain - otherwise, they wouldn't have the classes! Kudos to you for getting through delivery w/o any help for the pain! Neither or my DDs nor any of their friends understand how anyone can manage to do that.

 

But reading your description of how your parents spanked brings me to another point - OTOH, I understand that spanking in the heat of anger can be dangerous and can lead to spanking for poor reasons. But OTOH, with all due respect to those who do it, spanking after you (general) are calmed down is scary to me in another way. Not to mention that I can imagine how torturous it must be to have to wait for that spanking, as Brit pointed out. All more reasons why I really can't see spanking, except maybe as a very last resort.

 

Many people of my age( the spare the rod and spoil the child age) had the *@#&* beat out of us. You can guess how I feel about it.

 

Yes, I certainly can. And I'm so sorry you went through that. (I trust that most of those here who do use spanking as a method of discipline, don't go as far as to "beat" their kids.)

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I

But reading your description of how your parents spanked brings me to another point - OTOH, I understand that spanking in the heat of anger can be dangerous and can lead to spanking for poor reasons. But OTOH, with all due respect to those who do it, spanking after you (general) are calmed down is scary to me in another way. Not to mention that I can imagine how torturous it must be to have to wait for that spanking, as Brit pointed out. All more reasons why I really can't see spanking, except maybe as a very last resort.

 

This got me thinking.  I think spanking in the heat of the moment is wrong but I think I understand spanking after calming down even less.  So you (general) calm down, think about it and still come to the conclusion that causing your smal child pain is the right way to teach them right from wrong?  I think it is sad and (I don't know if I can say this, so if I can't please delete this. mods) I think it is lazy.  There are so many other ways to teach a child appropriate behavior.  Yes, they might take more time and effort but I think my children are worth all the time and effort I have.

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