When you’re a kid, you don’t know any different when you’re little. You don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. When you’re a kid, all you know is your own experience.
I was spanked as a child, although not often because I was also the rule follower. I was the one that didn’t dare test my parents. I was the one that tried to keep the peace. I was the one that knew that a consequence sometimes came with a mouth full of soap, or a smacking. So, I tried not to suffer those consequences. But, smacking was common in our household, and my siblings and I all got our share of it.
I don’t know that my parents knew that it was wrong to discipline that way. I don’t fault them, really. They were both raised that way. After all, being raised in the American south, I was once even paddled in school for writing on the back of the chair in front of me. My first grade memory doesn’t remember a parent ever being called, I just remember being taken out of the classroom, paddled, and taken back in by a teacher that had no business smacking me.
It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I couldn’t fathom hitting my child. Yet, there have been a handful of times (probably less than five) where I’ve felt the anger build up, and I swatted a toddler too harshly on the thigh for doing something naughty, or felt tempted to have my knee jerk reaction be a swat on the bum.
But, the fear in my children’s eyes the one or two times I spanked them stopped me cold. I haven’t done it since, and I haven’t looked back. Luckily my youngest has never known that side of me.
I’m not perfect. I struggle with yelling. I brush off my kids sometimes. I want more alone time than I probably should some days, but I will never use smacking as discipline ever again. I know better now, and I’m breaking the cycle with my kids.
According to the American Psychological Association, smacking is not even effective, and can lead to detrimental long term effects on children. Sure, it seems like a quick fix at the time, but according to the APA, studies have shown evidence that the long term effects can just lead to more violence, and criminal activity. Not only that, but why would I want my children to ever see me as the one that is physically hurting them? I don’t.
The APA also suggests that spanking can lead to a cycle of violence in families. In other words, parents that were punished with smacking as children are more likely to hit their own children. I understand this firsthand, because I almost fell into that cycle, too.
Recently, I watched as a relative of mine posted on social media about smacking her 2-year-old when he was acting up in public. The comments that followed, praising her for her methods, astounded me. It ranged from everything like, “Way to go. That’s how you were raised, and there is nothing wrong with it!” to “You don’t want to raise a spoiled brat!” I just can’t stomach the thought of children being raised this way anymore.
So, I know that it starts with me to break the cycle. It’s not easy to be a cycle breaker. We all have something that we want to be better at than our own parents as we have children of our own. I guess this is one of mine. I was spanked as a child, but I refuse to smack my children.
Are they spoiled brats? Eh. Sometimes. But, really, are they? No. Not at all. They are good kids. They have punishments that are appropriate for their ages. They know when they’ve crossed the line because we do time outs, and we talk it out, and we apologise when we make mistakes in our house.
I would never hit another adult to solve a conflict in my life, so why would I hit a child that is still trying to learn so much? Thank goodness the answer is common sense to me now. You just don’t.