Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a firm stance on spanking. The verdict? That would be a no from me, dawg.

Their research, officially released December of 2018, says that spanking as a form of punishment has long term consequences AND is completely ineffective in teaching anything. Shocker.

Although I’m thrilled that they’ve finally come out and said what should have been obvious, I’m still confused as to why this is news. The entire point of parenting is to teach appropriate behavior, and spanking is the exact opposite.

My toddler has a mean left hook. It’s no wonder her toddler friends shy away from her when she gets going, because she will whap an adult and they’ll feel it. It took a while for one feisty friend to get her back, and she remembered that good shove for several weeks and curbed her own behavior.

Although I certainly don’t condone physical violence between children, my daughter had to learn. I worked relentlessly to adjust her behavior and she was slowly improving. I can’t tell you how many times I had to remove her completely from an event or take away toys because she wouldn’t freaking stop smacking people.

However. NEVER did I raise a hand to her. I was spending all my time telling her that hitting wasn’t the answer. That she needed to learn to use her words to express herself. And I know that’s hard, especially for a toddler with big emotions and little ability to regulate them. And I won’t lie, either. There were many times that I was smacked right in the face (and it really hurt) that I wanted to smack her right back. It’s instinct! Someone hits you, you respond.

Am I thrilled that another kid payed her back for all the trouble she caused? Yes and no. I don’t ever want anyone harming my baby, but I would be lying if I said she didn’t deserve it. It also gave her insight that I couldn’t, because I don’t spank her. It HURTS. It causes pain and sadness and hurt feelings. When my little diva got shoved, she could hardly believe it. But it finally clicked.

I don’t believe she would have had the same realization had I not had several conversations with her. We talked so many times about how hurtful it is to hit, bite, or push her friends. Once my toddler experienced it firsthand, she was able to make the connections from our discussions. If her only experience had been me also hitting her, it wouldn’t have made sense.

Children are capable of more than they are often given credit for. I’ve gotten shit for offering explanations to my child, even when I’m punishing them. “Because I said so” isn’t good enough for me. I’m a parent, not a dictator. Am I always going to be my child’s friend? Absolutely not. But if they’re in deep shit, they deserve to know why other than that they are powerless to say otherwise.

So what should you do otherwise?

  • behavior charts
  • time-outs (or time-ins)
  • allow for natural consequences
  • take away privileges or favorite toys
  • ignore harmless undesired behavior
  • praise good behavior

Spanking your children doesn’t work. It teaches fear and it teaches dishonesty. Your children will hide from you to avoid punishment and will continue with behaviors they see modeled. When you’re upset with someone at work, you don’t smack them around. Your children deserve the same respect.