A Happy Parenting Community Member has asked me if I believe in corporal punishment, in response to an article called “The great parenting debate to spank or not to spank.”
For me, the answer to this question is easy, in my opinion THERE IS NO DEBATE. As a person, as a parent and as a parenting coach I can emphatically say, SPANKING IS A NO-GO ZONE.
I also believe that an emotional beating is equal, if not more destructive, than a physical beating.
What I want to do is alter the way you think about spanking; I totally want to change your thinking.
I challenge you to consider why you are even asking this question…. I implore you to focus on a real parenting dilemma, which is, why even consider spanking as an issue, rather, ask yourself:
WHAT CAN I DO TODAY TO CONNECT EVEN MORE WITH MY CHILD SO THAT I CAN SHOW THEM AND TEACH THEM TO BE LOVING, KIND AND CARING TO ALL AND MOST OF ALL TO BE LOVING, KIND AND CARING THEMSELVES?
Here are some things you can do to solve what I see as the real parenting dilemma
Connection will happen when you – FILL, FILL, FILL
Fill your child’s love tank
Take care to show your child how much they mean to you, show your child your love in a way that they appreciate, not in the way that you want to show them. Discover what is meaningful to them and shower them in love accordingly.
Recognise and encourage everything about your child that is amazing and tell them at every opportunity. Do not gush, be specific, and reiterate your child’s qualities by sharing examples of when you have seen them exhibit these behaviours – let them know what you admire about them.
Fill their lives with your presence not presents. Be there whenever you can and be there because you want to, not because you’re obligated. Be present when you are present 100%.
Fill your child’s with a sense of right and wrong.
Teach your child right from wrong, and show them the best way to do the right thing. Explain the effects of inappropriate action by discussing the action they have taken, not who they are.
Be careful not to say, “You always do…” when you are showing them the right way, focus on the action they have taken, not the person taking the action.
When your child expresses his remorse or his guilt at what he has done, that is okay because it means he is sorry for what he has done, and with time and good guidance, by working through how he can make better choices, he will try to do better next time around.
I would discourage you and advise against making your child feel embarrassed or ashamed because these feelings manifest as them being disappointed in themselves, rather than being disappointed in an error they have made.
Use the experience as a lesson, sit with your child, and help him to brainstorm ideas of what he can do next time around. Be mindful od what you focus on during any brainstorming you do together. Emphasise the actions he has taken, or could have taken, not your child himself.
Encourage your child to understand that errors are okay and that you want to see better choices from them in future.
As the parent, I see one of your core responsibilities as helping your child and teaching him the right way. They do not know what they do not know and your role is to show them in a kind and gentle lesson, the right way, without a beating and without yelling.
Fill your life with what is important to your child
Be a part of your child’s life, know what is currently happening with them, for them, and to them even know what is transpiring because of them. Find out their hopes their dreams, their fears their doubts and their worries. Get to know your child like you would a friend, because when you truly take the time to know your child, they will know that they matter in your life.
Do not be an observer, be an active participant, participate in your child’s life and do not stand on the outside looking in.
Back to the non-existent spanking debate
As a child, I recall receiving two memorable hidings in my life; both stand out as if they happened yesterday. Neither taught me any more relevant, or more significant life lesson than all the incredible life lessons I received from my parents over the years, and I am confident when I say I truly believe that the hidings hurt and upset my parents more than they did me.
The two spankings were so different the first was planned and quick and I was never given another hiding like that again. I haven’t thought about that time in a long time, but thinking back, I am certain that my punishment was probably worse for my dad than it was for me. I remember thinking I am not going to cry, I will not give you the satisfaction of hurting me and when I walked away, I probably had a tear in my eye and he was the one with the guilt and the sadness at having to punish me that way.
I am not sure if my grandparents smacked him, but he was certainly that way when he was at school and I know that he regretted hitting me the second he made the decision, and he never did it again.
My second hiding was very different; my father was reacting to an extremely pressurised situation that was exacerbated by incredibly poor behaviour by my siblings and me. Of course, this is no excuse, but I am grateful because one bad decision and reaction was all it was, it never happened again and these two hidings had no long-term effect on me.
I am grateful that, despite corporal punishment being the rule of thumb for my dad when he went to school, he purposely chose not to pass on this destructive way of dealing with my siblings and me.
Today, we live in such an informed world, where the impact of our actions, particularly spanking is well researched and the effects are well understood. This was certainly not the case when I was growing up.
Despite not always having a parenting guide for our parenting journey, it seems to me there are clear messages that we cannot ignore as parents, connection builds relationships, and disconnection destroys them.
The truth is our children live what they learn and when we watch a parent hitting a child as a response to them hurting another child or we see a parent react physically or in an emotionally abusive way, this will usually translate directly into the relationships those children have with others. I’ve seen it repeatedly, a child hits another child, and the parent quickly rushes in and spanks the offender – Monkey see, monkey do.
I’d like to leave you with a message that I share with parents, and that is, what you model is what your child will do.
I implore you to leave the spanking in the past and take the decision to address the real parenting dilemma of how best to connect with your child every single day and focus on modelling Fill, Fill, Fill, Parenting, all the way into your happy family life together.