Why Is My 2 Year Old So Mean To Baby Don’t Spank: Spare the Rod

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Don’t Spank: Spare the Rod

If there’s one discipline method that’s sure to inspire heated debate, it’s spanking. Indeed, a “spare the rod, spoil the child” mentality seems to be making a comeback. I have heard some of the parents who participate in my workshops say that there is nothing wrong with an occasional spanking to “teach children respect.” I believe that hitting is rarely, if ever, an effective alternative.

There are the four common rationales I hear to justify hitting or hitting.

1. “I Hit So My Child Knows What He Feels”

Four-year-old Martin put the final block on his castle when his little sister knocked it over. Martin was furious with her for ruining his creation, so he beat her. Their mother, Johanna, was equally furious with her son. As she hit Martin, she said, “This will teach you not to hit your little sister! Now you know how it feels!”

It is unlikely that Martin felt apologetic after he was beaten. And he certainly wasn’t motivated to get along better with his sister. By hitting Martin, Joana modeled the very behavior she was trying to prevent, sending him the message “when you’re mad, hit!” Especially if you are bigger.

A more effective solution would be to firmly state, “Hitting is not allowed in this house. I don’t blame you for being crazy, but I won’t let you hurt her.” Joan might also suggest that next time she helps Martin set up a work area that is out of his sister’s reach.

2. “Sometimes I Just Lose It”

It’s a rare parent who doesn’t occasionally lose control. Many parents, when they are completely honest, admit that hitting usually does not happen in calm, rational moments. But we must make a real effort to deal with our anger in other ways.

When you are really angry, you risk saying or doing something that you would never do if you were feeling reasonable. That’s why it’s best to leave the scene until you can regain some self-control. Chances are, when you’ve had some time to cool down, you won’t feel so inclined to cause pain.

3. “I Just Strike to Reinforce Safety Lessons” Even parents who generally don’t spank say there are exceptions, especially when it comes to safety. Sandra, for example, described how she hit her seven-year-old daughter, Sue, when she ran into the middle of the street to chase a ball. That was a serious offense and I wanted her to know it. Hitting was the only way to impress her before she had to look both ways before going over.”

But two weeks later, Sandra told a different story: “I thought Sue got my message after I spanked her. But a few days ago, I let her go to her friend’s house across the street alone. As I watched her from our. window, I saw that again she did not look before crossing.”

I suggested that a better approach might be to practice each step with Sue: look right, then left, check right again, and look around the corner. In the meantime, Sue should not be allowed to cross any street unsupervised until she proves she knows how to be careful.

4. “I Hit So My Kids Know I Mean Business”

I have often heard parents express concern that if they don’t spank occasionally, their children will be wild or spoiled. They argue that they themselves were beaten as children, and they turned out well. But being unspanker does not mean being too permissive. In fact, hitting is the easy way out–for parent and child alike. Spanking a child lets parents release their anger and feel like they’ve dealt with the problem. However, when a child is spanked, he tends to feel left out. (“I was punished, so I don’t have to think about it anymore.”) He doesn’t learn what to do instead, nor does it help him develop a conscience that makes him feel bad about doing the wrong thing. Children quickly realize that the best way to avoid getting hit is to make sure they don’t get caught.

As all these examples have shown, inflicting pain by hitting, slapping, and hitting does not teach children to seek nonviolent solutions to their problems. What really influences children to be responsible and considerate, and to develop a conscience, is the strong bond they establish with their parents. This bond should be one of love and trust, not one of anger and pain.

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