Today, I am going to write about a touchy subject, literally. I’m talking about spanking. When I grew up, it was common place to spank a child when they were “acting out.” I hold no animosity or anger toward my parents because they used this type of childrearing. It’s what they knew, and actually they did a far better job than their parents. Now we have the knowledge about the repercussions from using this type of punishment (along with yelling), which shows that when children are spanked, yelled at, etc. it causes damage to the brain.
The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties
So many adults I know now, most of them that either don’t have children or have decided to use spanking and yelling with their kids, argue “That’s how I was raised and I turned out fine.” I beg to differ. I, like stated before, had this same punishment and I suffer from anxiety issues, depression, anger, and avoidance to conflict with peers or those in authority positions. Sorry, but that isn’t normal to me unless you are arguing that everyone suffers from the same issues… because the majority of the population was treated this way when they were children. Well, times are changing and a lot of parents are doing the research which proves these types of parenting cause said issues throughout the persons life.
“Numerous studies over the past 20 years have also found spanking to be associated with similar mental health problems in childhood and adulthood, including depression or depressed mood (e.g., Fergusson, Boden, & Horwood, 2008; MacMillan et al., 1999; McLoyd, Kaplan, Hardaway, & Wood, 2007), personality disorders (Lynam, Miller, Vachon, Loeber, & Stouthamer-Loeber, 2009), suicidal ideations and/or attempts and self-injurious behaviour (Fergusson et al., 2008), and substance use.”
I’m not saying that I’m anywhere close to the perfect parent. I have never spanked my child, but when my toddler pushes and pushes to the point where I lose it, I last out either with yelling or I’ve been a little to rough. I’m not proud of it and it something that I work on every day by learning new techniques to be a better mom and a better me! What it really comes down to, is dealing with our shit (sorry for the French) but it’s true. All of the crap that we went through, which is unresolved for ourselves leaks its way back into our lives, especially with our precious children. These kids that tantrum aren’t bad kids and shouldn’t be punished. Instead, we should calm ourselves down and then be present for them instead of continuing the vicious cycle of diminishing and berating them. Children need help navigating their feelings into positive releases because their brains aren’t fully developed into adulthood.
Who wants their kids to fear them? I know that I want my children to know they are loved and supported, even when they are having a hard time. I want them to be able to trust me to tell me about the hard stuff so I know that they are safe and so they feel safe. Typically, kids who are afraid of their caregivers will just rebel more. So let’s lift each other up and heal ourselves for our children so they will be healthy kids and then healthy adults and healthy parents.
Tips for keeping the cool when our kids don’t know how:
1. Breathe, go to your feet, go brain dead:
When we calm ourselves first we are able to better help those around us. It’s like the saying goes “put on our oxygen mask first.” When we go to the feet, it takes us out of our heads which is when we tend to react in a not so pleasant manner.
2. Be there:
If the child is having a melt down, let them. Tell them they are there for them and that you hear them. If they are endangering themselves or others remove them from the situation by telling them “You’re not safe so I’m going to pick you up/move them,” or “I can see you’re wanting to hit, I won’t let you hit” and block the hit all while keeping your tone calm.
Nothing says I love you more than sitting with them and holding them while they are acting out. On the flip side, putting them in a room all alone says the opposite. I found this to escalate things in our home when we used time outs. My daughters anger rose and she threw things at her door and screamed more, but when I said, “Oh man, let’s have a time in or “time for a time in, I’m going to pick you up.” If the kiddo runs away, that’s okay. Usually this happens I say “Okay, no problem. I just wanted to give you loving”
4. Have realistic limits/rules:
Make your rules of the house realistic for the age of your kids. Also, make sure these set rules are CONSISTENT! Consistency is key! It’s not fair for us to flip flop on the rules, it’s confusing for children and the caregiver, believe me, I know.
Children learn from their caregivers. If you yell, your kids will learn to yell. If you use manners, your kids will learn to use their manners. If you have empathy, your kids will learn empathy. Kids are smart! Way smarter than a lot of people give them credit for. We are their teachers and we need to show them the same respect we all deserve.
6. Acknowledge all feelings:
Kids are amazing at being able to self regulate. They do this by yelling and screaming and it’s our job to help them navigate healthy ways to get these feelings out in a more positive way. This could look like screaming into a pillow with them, writing their feelings down, throwing bean bags in a basket, making funny faces in the mirror, etc.
None of us are perfect, we are going to have times where we loose our cool and react in a way that we aren’t proud of. That’s okay and it’s a good lesson for our kids to show them that we mess up and make mistakes, but it’s even more important to show them what to do when that happens. If you lose your cool and yell, calm yourself down and then apologize and explain that you are trying to get better and that it’s something you struggle with. I love something I just heard recently that Time Outs are for parents to collect themselves before reacting and Time Ins are for kids.
8. Get help:
There is nothing wrong with asking for help! I have issues with things I have from my past that tend to come out when I’m pushed by my toddler and deep down it’s my own crap that I need to fix. I do this by talking to other parents, my husband, my counselor, etc. I also, listen to podcasts and read articles about parenting to give me ideas when I need them.