Wednesday, June 23

How not to beat your children

*note* Beating your children is never ok, and is never funny. Except when you're talking to your girlfriends about how badly your children need beating. But, never remark on how badly their children need beating, even if their children are way badder than yours.

Several months ago I wrote a tweet that went something like this:
"Do they still have schoolkids write sentences as a punishment?"
I got varied responses, but it was kind of a moot point. My kids don't write. (Well, The Boy does, but his penmanship is deplorable. We're working on it. Kindergarten wasn't much use except to get him out of my hair for 8 hours a day.)

What I wanted to know was what other forms of discipline were available to me.
The first link after Googling "alternative discipline for children" boasts this headline: "Alternative discipline: How to avoid smacking your child"

I have never, not once, smacked my child. Any of them. What I have done, and will continue to do until I see reason not to, is to spank them.

Oh law, she's bringing out the S word.
Yep. We spank our Bees.
We do it when they have deliberately disobeyed.
We do it when they knowingly break our (pre-set and talked-to-death) rules.
We do it when they lie.
There are some other caveats, but those are the big 3. Both of the elder Bees know when they are in for it. They know why we do it. They know it will always be done with a whippin' spoon, and never with our hands (unless it's a for real dire situation). They know -or at least, have been told- that we do it out of love, and that neither the cause or effect lessens our love for them. We do it, and then it's done. Until the next time.

But we also know our children. We know what works for them, and what doesn't. For The Girl, one swift swat to one chubby buttcheek does the trick. She is mortified, she is heartbroken, and she is on the straight-and-narrow for a good 6 days after that. The Boy is different; we could spank him 14 times in a 2 hour period (this may or may not have happened once), and he would still be defiant; still do it his own way. We are not yet sure about The Baby. For now she responds well to a "Huh-uh, no ma'am!" or calling her name in a stern voice.

We don't smack our children.

However, not every offense warrants a spanking. Sometimes we take away a tangible privilege. Sometimes we reward the one who was doing the right thing at that time. We've even resorted to the ever popular "time out," but use it more as a calming down period for an overwrought, overtired, or overly emotional kid (um, and mom).

I'd still like a few more options in our disciplinary repertoire. But, there are some that I know won't work for our kids, or that I won't employ based on my own crazy notions.

1) Yelling. Yelling as a form of punishment is never effective. Kids block it out, and your point is lost in the loud oblivion.

2) The "nose in the corner" standby. I had a biology teacher do this to me. In high school. It was humiliating, and I think that was his point. I am not willing to humiliate my kids, and since they still have such a relatively low concept of time, it is pointless to leave them sniffing cobwebs for very long. The hubs tried this once with Pooter, and he just stood- nosedeep- and danced. It didn't quite work out the way my husband planned.

3) I'm opposed to the sentence-writing thing, also. I love words. I love reading them and I love writing them. I want to, and am working to, instill in my kids a love of words. If I turn the words against my kids, use them as a weapon, I'm afraid they'll lose a bit of their magic. (This comes again from my own experience. My 5th grade teacher hated my guts and I spent almost every recess writing sentences over and over and over and freaking over.)

4) Running laps, doing push-ups, other hardcore feats of athleticism are out. I've heard stories from the hubs about how he was made to do all of the above and it only fueled his pre-teen rebellion. Now, he was a rebel anyway, but it falls along the same lines as #3. I want my kids to love playing outside. I want them to be healthy; I don't want to use exercise as a stand-in for punishment. (That is not to say, though, that I don't send my kids out for a few minutes of running around time in the backyard when they are driving myself and each other batty. I totally do that.)

5) Washing out of the mouth with a bar o' Ivory. I'm just not gonna do it. It's gross. It's mean. It's Miss Hannigan-ish.

6) I'm sure there are plenty more.... no smoking a whole pack of cigarettes after being caught smoking one (I thought this was only in the movies, but I had a friend whose father actually made him do this.) humiliation, no retaliation.

I'm sure some of our disciplinary and punishment-al (yes. I can make up words. It's my blog.) will change as the Bees get older.
I'm sure we'll ground them and take away their phones and refuse to let their friends drink at our house (oh wait, that's another post) and we'll be totally the worst most oppressive freakin' lame parents who ever lived, man.
We'll adapt as they do. I might even do one of the aformentioned never-gonna-do's. But not the mouth-washing. Ick.

In the mean time, I'd like to know some gentle-yet-effective, creative but not cheesy/hippy/tool-ish parenting tactics.

Not that my kids need ever a beating, or anything.



  1. I didn't have to write sentences over and over again... but as I got older (probably starting around age 10), I did have to write 'reports'. Spanking, yelling, taking items away, etc. had no effect on me. My parents tried it as a last resort. It sounds crazy, but knowing how my mind worked, it was effective. And I still love to write, so I don't think it ruined me for life. (In fact, they credit my ability to write on the reports.) I had to write why what I did was wrong (do research if applicable) and then outline what I thought my punishment should be (that was the worst part). Anyway, a little out there... but something to keep in mind...

    When, at 15, I drove my grandmother's car through the garage door, I just went ahead and greeted them at the door with my report in hand.

  2. Audreya - I love that story. LOVE IT.

    Funny too, because I clicked over to say something like - you just have to keep trying things til you figure out what works. They are all different. Parenting will sure keep you creative...


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