This topic often creates a firestorm of opinions and intense criticism of spanking of any sort. Many “experts” (some without children) claim they have all the answers. Unfortunately, no single child responds to discipline the same way. In other words, you must use different types of consequences dependent upon the personality of your child or children. The three topics I will cover in this article are: roles, rules and consequences. But before going any further, here are some definitions from Webster’s online dictionary that help clarify the difference between spanking vs. beating along with what discipline means:
Spank (to smack on the bottom, especially with an open hand)
Beat (to thrash at vigorously)
Discipline (training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character)
Roles: You are NOT your child’s friend, let me repeat…you are NOT your child’s friend…at least not until they are older. This is an area where many parents blur the lines, especially single parents. The single parent is already trying to fill both roles and it is at a higher risk of falling into the trap of the “friend parent”. This may have more to do with not having a companion/co-parent in their lives. But no matter, you cannot parent and be a friend at the same time. The “friend parent” wants to please their child all the time and tries to give them anything they want. The “ mature parent” raises their child, takes them to movies, enrolls them in sports but does not spoil them and also has the courage to discipline. The “mature parent” also makes sure that their child respects them and other adults, something sorely lacking in today’s society.
Rules: Many kids don’t always clearly understand the rules that we parents have a tendency to practice reactionary parenting instead of preventive parenting. It is critically important that rules and reasons are clearly spelled out ahead of time. Most of you probably know the difference between reactionary versus preventive parenting. However, how do we change into a preventive parent while trying to keep the job, clean the house, cook the food and pay the rent?
Consequences: How many times does a parent cave in and not follow through with the consequence? Whether out of guilt or just plain tired, not cementing the consequences sends mixed messages to your child along with letting them know you are not serious. One important item about consequences: It is your family dynamics to decide what consequences work and what don’t. Recently in our home state, the legislature wanted to outlaw spanking. This is not is their place in your family.
Final thoughts: spanking may work for some young children at certain ages – taking away sports or video games make work better. For tweens and teens, cell phones, social life and Facebook can simply be taken away. Remember, you must hold yourself accountable to the consequences you’ve determined for your children and FOLLOW THROUGH!