I am a member of Circle of Moms but haven't been active. I get a newsletter (daily I think) about the latest topics in the forum and would just normally delete it as I really don't have much time to read and reply - although I would want to. Some questions by fellow moms are really interesting and many times, I'd like to share a piece of my mind but I just couldn't find much time. Yesterday though, one question from a mom hit me and got me to reflect.
How do you punish your kid for hitting?
was the question.
I clicked on the link on my email and was automatically brought to the main forum page. I started reading the responses. One of the many popular response is that they give their kids timeouts. Others say they'd pop or smack the hand a little. Some talk about positive disciplining etc.
Punish - I find this word harsh to be used for disciplining a kid more so for a toddler. I know how important it is for children to learn what's good and what's bad; what's wrong and what's right and make sure they don't turn into bullies. But with punishment, could we be just teaching them to have fear of getting punished for doing what we don't approve of? When our kid hit another kid out of frustration, and to tell him it is not good to hit others, we hit our kid - wouldn't that just send them the wrong signal about hitting? "It's ok for mommy to hit because I did something wrong and mommy was upset... but that kid took my toy and that's wrong and I was upset... isn't that the same?"
As I've said from a previous blog entry I was a disciplinarian on my younger siblings and have hit them more than a couple of times for behaving badly. Before, I strongly believe about punishment, hitting on the hand, yelling to prove I'm the right one and I have power over them etc. But I totally regret that now. Since I've become a mom, I realized all those behaviors of mine towards disciplining were not right.
I don't have a degree in child psychology and neither I've seen tons of kids raised differently by different moms to have a basis on the thoughts I have about punishment on toddlers or very young kids. Time outs, I have never done it. Light smacks or popping on any part of the body, not considering it. And I do pray that a situation won't come when I'd lose control and hit LSP. I am not even saying that hitting may have a bad psychological effect on kids as I do not have a way to prove that. No, I can't do lab test nor have I read books and books about investigations on the effect of hitting on kids. I am not even going to declare that not hitting kids is the best way of disciplining or parenting. It's just what my instinct tells me to do.
I can't think of any situation where my little one would deserve spanking no matter high light it could be. There had been a few times when out of desperation, I have raised my voice and yelled LSP's name in an angry note. Just by seeing her startled face, I regret I've ever yelled right at the moment. So I can't really imagine how crappy I'd feel the moment I lose myself and hit her.
So, my question is do we really need to punish toddlers? It may be effective on the surface since most probably punishments will remind them not to do whatever it is that would send them not to eat their meal, or spend minutes of time outs in a corner, or lose their most favorite toy. So what happens when punishments are gone?
I'd personally choose talking and discussing what happened, why my daughter acted as such and why we should not be doing the bad deed that was done. I'd rather make her understand that hitting (for instance) is not good because it can hurt someone. And we don't want to hurt anyone. Nor would mommy want to see anyone hurt her dear daughter. It may seem futile to explain things to a 1.5 yr old for instance but I myself would get surprised later on, on how it would impact her what I have told her a few days back. Sometimes we just need to have more faith on our children.
As a child, I was hit several times (uhm, ex-bratinella anyone? ::me raises hand::). And I turned out ok. Neither do I have a shattered relationship with either of my parents. I love them so much that it just aches right now that I am far from them. But would I choose not to be hit at the time I was misbehaving when I was a kid? Your bet, sir! I do. My mom would explain to me why I was hit and what I did was wrong. I accept the "I was wrong part" But never accepted the hitting. Then later on, unknowingly, I just started thinking it's the way to discipline and so I became a "popper" for my younger siblings. I am glad motherhood has changed me.
Would I regret one day that I never spanked my little one to discipline her? That I couldn't answer. As a parent, I know I am going to make good and bad decisions. And it can take a lifetime before I'd finally know if I have done well or not. But right now, hitting her or making her feel bad to learn a lesson doesn't feel right - says my motherly instinct.
Think I may be raising a bully?
Nah. Anyone who has this smile can never be a bully :)