I promised myself years ago that I would never spank my children. It seemed like such an easy thing–I hated being spanked, and I was positive there were other methods out there that would communicate discipline effectively.
And then, I became a mom.
As my oldest child grows, I admit, we’ve done the spanking routine. I can count the number of actual spankings on my fingers, and I’m not convinced I actually hurt him in any way, because rather than crying or saying “this hurts,” it actually calms him down and seems to, well, work.
And that is the inherent problem–it works. It works when nothing else does. See, my son has always struggled to control his emotions. He has been a very intense child from day one, and as he grew, my husband and I noticed that he has trouble controlling his emotions, both happy and sad ones. He feels everything at its peak–when he’s happy, he is the most exuberant child you will ever meet. And when he’s not, he will kick and scream, throw things, slam doors, growl, you name it. As a two year old, he would even hurt himself. We took him to a nationally known behavioral specialist in Washington, DC when he was two, and she said to do what worked for us. I admitted to her at that time that I had spanked him (only once then), and she said it was okay, that she knew we weren’t going to abuse him, and it was clear to her that we loved him–and after that, we actually managed to avoid spanking for a long time.
Now, however, he is very strong willed, and I get to the point where lately, I don’t know what else to do to keep things sane for both of us. We do time outs, we take away toys, we scold, we put him down for naps, and everything else you can imagine. On one hand, I think, if it works, it works, and I know I would never hurt him. On the other hand, I think, “Everyone at school says how wonderfully behaved he is and how sweet he can be, and they don’t seem to believe me when I say what he can be like at home. The problem MUST BE ME. And they don’t spank at school, and he’s a dream there.”
Thoughts? Advice? Please keep the judgment–on both sides of the issue–off of this space. I’m hoping to open up a discussion on such a controversial topic.