Friday, January 28, 2011

To Spank or Not to Spank

In general Daniel and I are on the same page when it comes to parenting - we believe in structure, schedules and consistency. But there is a specific part of the parenting equation we weren't quite in agreement on - discipline. Specifically, the age old question: To Spank, or Not To Spank. It's something my husband and I discussed a great deal before Miss Paige was born, but never really came to a consensus on. As children we were both spanked. And, as far as we're concerned, grew up to be pretty decent people. However, I have no interest in spanking my children. Daniel, on the other hand, thinks it is an effective way to discipline. Up until now, it hasn't really been an issue since Paige didn't get into much purposeful trouble. But once she turned one, we quickly realized Miss Paige had inherited my curiosity and determination, and Daniel's selective hearing (You're husband probably has the mysterious condition of "selective hearing" too... He has no problem hearing his buddies in a crowded football arena with deafening noise levels, but ask him to take out the trash and all of the sudden he can't hear/understand what you are saying...). She understands everything we say, and chooses whether or not it fits into her action plan. If I say, "Paige! Do you want a cracker and milk?", she'll crawl right into the kitchen and wait by the fridge. If I say, "Paige! Don't touch the TV!", she pretends she doesn't hear me. Or worse yet, she'll turn around, smile, and go right back to putting her sticky little fingers all over the LCD screen and turning it on and off.

One day in particular, she kept going up to the TV, pushing on it (which would make it wobble), and then laughing. No matter how many times we said "No!" and took her away from the TV, she would crawl right back up and do it again. I even tried putting her in a "Time Out" on the stairs (aka: sitting her on the bottom step and holding her there for 30 seconds). She thought it was the funniest thing that ever happened to her. It obviously had no impact. So after a few more times of pushing the TV, Daniel took matter into his own hands... and spanked her. Not hard or anything, but enough that she felt it. And a split second later, she was crying as if she had just gotten a shot. She jumped off Daniel's lap and came over to me for comfort. We both felt TERRIBLE! For the next hour or so, she wouldn't even look at Daniel. And if he happened to catch her eye, she would burst out crying all over again. And however traumatic it was (for both child and parents), she hasn't touched the TV again! And that was about 3 weeks ago. But I still have no interest in spanking.

So I kept on trying my usual methods of "Three Strikes and Your Out!", but it never seemed to have an impact. So one day I was on the phone with my sister - aka Aunt GiGi - and she heard me doing the "1.2.3." thing. And she brought up a good point: Shouldn't you're child listen to you the FIRST time you say "No!"? OMG! It was like the lights had been turned on for me! It's SO true: stopping whatever they are doing shouldn't be optional. They shouldn't have three more times to do something before they stop. Children need to listen the FIRST time, or they need to be disciplined. I'm not sure why no one ever talked about this scenario before, but it has completely changed my life as a parent. Aunt GiGi learned about it at a parenting class she is taking at a local church, based on the book: Growing Kids God's Way by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. Here is link to their website:  There is more that goes into it, of course, so Daniel and I are going to sign up for a class down here. But, in just a week, discipline has taken on a new, consistent and structured plan in our family. Here's how it works with Paige:

If she does some sort of inappropriate behavior (i.e. throwing her food, getting into Lenni's water bowl, climbing the stairs without parental supervision) I immediately say to her ,"Paige, come over here/look at me now." If she didn't come over or respond, I would go to her and tell her, "No. Do not thrown your food." If she did it again, I immediately picked her up, brought her upstairs, and put her in her crib for a "Time Out" (no more sitting with her on the stairs, thank you very much). Then I would leave the room and leave her in there for one minute. Of course she would be screaming her head off and crying bloody murder. After one minute I go into her room, pick her up, give her a hug and a kiss and tell her why she went into Time Out. The first day she went into Time Out 6 times : ) But I stuck with it and the next day, she seemed to absorb the consequences of not stopping an inappropriate behavior when I would say, "No" the first time. Over the last 5 days, she's only gone in Time Out 2 times, and never for the same thing twice.

This may not be the ultimate solution for all families, but it seems to be working wonders for us! It feels good not to constantly be barking "NO" over and over again for the same actions. I feel back in control as a parent. I'll keep you posted, but so far I feel pretty good about this... Wonder if it will work as well once she hits her teenage years? : )