Saturday, October 8, 2011

Should we punish?

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 :)


  1. Hello Spanish Pinay! I have read recently in different places that regarding discipline techniques for children under two it is best to explain to them that their behavior is not correct them, then redirect their attention. For children at 2 and over it is good to explain to the child what he or she has done, then sit them in time out to think about what they have done for the minutes that correspond to their age. For example, if they are 3 then they think for three minutes or if they are 4 then they should think for the four minutes. After they are in time out it is good to explain again why they are in time out.

    I am not a psychologist either but I think this system seems fair. Don't worry about the hitting. My son and daughter went through that phase but I believe they did it when they could not communicate and were frustrated. Quickly this phase disappeared. Hope you are having a nice weekend!

  2. P.S. - I love the photos of your little girl. She is a darling!

  3. Every child is different and everyone's parenting is different. What may work for one person might not work for others...but as long as everything is done in love (and your child can feel that) then to each his own. I was brought up getting spanked as well and I totally understood why I did get spanked, but yeah didn't enjoy it too much. Although it did prevent me from doing whatever I did to get spanked in the first place, again....

  4. HI There! It's been a while since I last visited. Somehow having trouble getting to your site :(
    Anyway, I agree also with no hitting rule. Kids are sponge and copy whatever they see and experience from adults. Sometimes I see my daughter nagging his brother and raising her voice and I feel that it has something to do with the adults raising their voices too. So what more with hitting?

  5. This is a tricky question. I have to admit that I have swatted my nephew on the hand more than a coupls of times. It seems to be working better than a time out (which we have also tried.)

  6. since i don't have a kid, i'm really not sure what's my take on this. as you i used to hit my younger siblings when they were younger. i guess i got the violent streak from our mom who raised us in a corporal way. as i grew older though, i sort of just gotten tired of it so i stopped. for what it's worth, hitting them before did teach them to respect me. we're not closer and at least they know that they know better than to make me angry.

    maybe it is really different if we're talking about your own kid. i'm really not sure if i can raise my (future) kid in the same manner that our mom did for us. i'll cross the bridge when i get there.

  7. with those smile she don't deserve...I guess maraming paraan para e disciplina ang bata and as I could remember hindi ako pinalo nila mother and fathr dck ko..more explain to the max lang:)

  8. Thank you ladies for your comments. Luckily, at this moment, LSP is not yet on that phase. But I must prepare if ever she'll undergo this phase. @Rachel Joy - I agree. To each his own. Every family and every child is a whole different world.

  9. What a great topic. It is so hard to know what to do when our little ones act up. A few months ago Little Bit started really asserting his independence. He was doing things that endangered him. Every time he acted out I would get at his level and sternly tell him "No-No!" It took a few weeks but it finally sank in. Now when I say No-No! he stops what he is doing. I don't use it all the time or even every day. I reserve it for dangerous situations.

    They are so sweet but we have to watch out for them. I just don't want Little Bit to be a bully or for people to dread when he come around.

  10. my boys are 19 and 16, i have told them being a parent did not come with a manual. we did what we need to do to discipline them. I have asked them now during our heart to heart moments if they hated both mom and dad for hitting them. They actually said not really, although it hurt them. My youngest son said being in time out does not do anything for him when he was little. it gave him some time to think what he was going to do next not what he did wrong. follow your gut, follow your heart and do what's best for your little miss cutie ..

  11. not sure what happen to my comment :( in summary follow your heart, follow your gut and do what's best for you. Like you my parents spanked and hit me growing up. I don't hate them for it

  12. hahah those smiles! i love what you've wrote. i have 2 boys, 9 and ten years old, so you can imagine how hard it is for me to raise them. i spank them sometimes and then felt guilty after that. we've come to a point that my husband talked about it and decided to change our strategies. they are growing so fast and they are growing what we want them to be. my kids are good kids, responsible and respectful to others. so, on the other hand, spanking did something good in them. kisses. following you now.

  13. Let me start by saying that LSP is beyond cute. She has a smile that can melt any heart =)

    About the post, that's a toughie. My mom said they never really hit us, baka daw once lang (kasi we were good kids growing up? ewan? hehe) but they think there is nothing wrong with it as long as you explain why you have to do it. Hmmm.... pero kung ieexplain mo rin naman, then why hit them in the first place?
    I hit Poj once nung mega super kulit nya and he nearly hurt himself with whatever it was he was doing then. I was shocked and so scared. But I quickly realised that I shouldn't have done it & promised that I never would. When he's makulit or doing something naughty, I just try to explain to him why he should stop etc - I know it's difficult coz he's only 2 yrs old. But kids are smart and they do understand. Now I'm happy that I could reason with him. Sa lahat ng bagay ngayon mas nadadaan talaga sa mabuting usapan & it works all the time. No more drama.

    But I'm not judging how others bring up their kids. We all have our reasons and we all want the best for our kids. Siguro what's best is that they grow up with values, that they are made aware of the consequences of their actions and they know that we do things because we love them =)

  14. I never use the word "punish" when it comes to my kid. Discipline is more like it. I'm still feeling my way around the "discipline" realm. Sometimes, I don't know what to do, I admit.
    Your little girl is adorable. How can you spank someone that cute?

  15. You know this subject has so many different sides: some may say that's not okay to do so and other firmly believe that it's okay. I personally don't believe in spanking your kid to teach discipline, that only adds to the vicious circle of hitting and hence I should hit back. The same with bitting, I get bit hence I should bite back. I think discipline is tough for kids younger than 3 yrs old since they can't quite understand what they're doing. But all in all, parents and caregivers should discipline kids with kind words.

  16. Every parent is different. Coming from different backgrounds definitely will yield to different disciplinary acts. As for me, I used the rod (as the Bible instructs) but we do it with lots of communication involved and we rarely used it. The age of discipline is also different as each child is different.

  17. The topic about disciplining children has always been a cause of diversed opinions. Thank you ladies for your comments. This has caused me to further think about these things. I am kind of a bit restless and feel like writing another article about it - the moment I find another extra time :)


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