|Did I make cute babies or what?|
A rare dinner with all four of us and one was really annoying the other . . . poking, harassing, probably stabbing with utensils, you know the deal. And for the record, they're both over 18 now, so it's not a toddler thing (well not physically, anyways).
And the torture-ee says to the torture-er, "You were the one who was never spanked, so why are you the violent one?!"
Which actually slowed him down a little bit and got us all to talking . . .
Back in the day, when my first was born, Time Outs were THE way to modify your kids' behavior. So, of course, I read up, practiced, tried it out. Here's the thing, though. My first kid really liked to be around the action (I can relate--I can still remember trying my hardest to stay awake as my parents played cards with their friends, just KNOWing they were having fun without me and that as soon as I dropped off, the party would really begin. It drove me NUTS! so I could sympathize with my own little spawn, feeling this was def a my-genes thing). So timing her out was the most excruciating torture. When I first tried it on her, she could work herself up into a crying frenzy where she made herself puke. Seriously. And this is for maybe a minute or two.
That seemed a little extreme for what was a fairly minor infraction. Also, the lessons didn't really stick with her. The SECOND time she ran into the street (because the time-out did not really compute with her), I swatted her little diaper butt and she didn't like it, but she got the message, and was out playing--and NOT running into the street--without the hysteria, puking, etc.
Win for spanking. Close curtain, I rocked at parenting. Everyone else was crazy.
Enter second kid. This kid did NOT like me to lay a hand on him. He literally had a giant blue vein in his neck that pulsated when he got 'angwy,' which, i can tell you, was fairly often. (I know, look at that adorable little face, who'd'a thunk??). Swat that kid, and he would turn furious eyes on you and get right back up in your face. Send him to his room, though, and he'd sit in there, calm himself down, and come out and apologize. Which I did not actually demand (I think asking a four year old to apologize is like teaching them to lie. They pretty much don't mean it--they're four, and if they thought they could get away with it, the little terrorists would do it again). They just have to stop the destructive/hurtful behavior and replace it with something safe and bearable for the rest of us.
Now this is not to say he was never spanked, or that she was never timed-out. It kinda depended on the crime, you know? And the kids' response to whatever I was trying first. We've made up all sorts of different and strange 'punishments' because we have to find what actually changes the behavior.
But as they were older, 6 and 8 or so, and driving me crazy, I gave them the warning that they'd Better Knock It Off (I don't even remember what It was), or else . . . or else . . . (and the trick with threats is, you've got to nail it, give 'em something they DON'T want, but that they know you WILL do, and you have to be willing to do it). And I was worn out, couldn't think of just the thing that would, you know, motivate them to Stop but that I was, in my exhausted and worn out state, actually willing to get off my a$$ and do. So all I could come up with was, You Can Pick It, but you're gonna have to do it.
She said, "I'll take the spank." He said, "Time-out, fine."
And it kinda made me laugh, how they knew themselves. And how they had to be so freakin' different.
So I said, "Fine. That's what you'll get if you don't knock it off. I mean it."
Honestly, I don't even remember if I had to follow through or not. I'm thinking the discussion--and them choosing their options--kinda took the steam out of the power struggle that was going on and probably turned them back to cartoons or something (I mean, look at those faces, they were sooo cute!!)
But I did learn that day that I was definitely dealing with two different entities, and that discipline advice, instead of being all about the Rules or the Parenting Style, should actually come from a place of What Motivates Your Kid? Because that's the trick, isn't it? Getting your kid to stop one action and replace it with another . . .
But for all the research that says spanking your kid makes them violent (violent criminals, horrible people, etc.) I think that NO. That's not the whole story.
---And super important distinction--a "spank" NEVER involves a wooden spoon, a belt, or any other object besides a hand. It is aimed at either the back of their hand (they're reaching for a stovetop, an electrical outlet, they keep grabbing things at a store) or, yes, their backsides (they're screaming, they're breaking things, being super hurtful and have not responded to the previous verbal warnings and things are about to get super out of control). That's it--
It depends on the kids, on your relationship with them, on their personality type, and their sense of what is the greater wrong. When you know those things, you can pick accordingly.
And they're gonna turn into luggy teenagers, then functional adults, almost definitely. Practically in spite of what you do.
But the time-outs don't always lead to the most peaceable kids, not at all . . . so you're good to go, whatever you choose!