Time Out or Time to Spank?

Folks – this is a tough one. And I’m honestly torn so feedback is most welcome this post…

Pineapple is a royal mess. She does not listen. Her teachers complain about her behavior EVERY SINGLE DAY. She hasn’t gotten a sticker in weeks because she isn’t using her manners nor is she treating her friends/teachers/parents with respect. She is HITTING people. Hard. And across the face. We have no idea where or why this is coming from because nobody is hitting her and she certainly isn’t exposed to this sort of behavior in our home…in other words, we don’t go around slapping each other.

My little Pineapple is a sweet, wonderful girl. She is, according to her teachers, the “snuggliest kid they have.” She loves kisses and hugs and to curl up next to us with a book. She’s generous, kind and happily shares her toys. She perfectly fits the description “when she is good, she is very, very good…but when she is bad, she is AWFUL.”

I’m torn because I’ve now had several folks advise me to consider corporal punishment as the time out system is no longer getting through to her. And not only is she naughty, some of the things she does are dangerous (e.g., standing on furniture, running to the stairs, slapping helping hands away as they try to assist her as she makes her way up or down stairs, running toward the street, etc.). Tim and I agreed that we didn’t want to spank her if we could avoid it. It just wasn’t our punishment of choice. But we also don’t want to do her a disservice by allowing her to become the child that nobody wants to be around becuase of her bad behavior.

My feeling is that if you spank your child calmy – explaining why you are doing so, and explaining that these are the rules and they must be followed. Not several spanks – nothing harsh – more of an “attention grabbing pop” – then this is acceptable. Doing so while you’re angry/frantic/pushed to your limit/and accompanied by screaming is not OK in my book. We’re considering giving it a go….

What do YOU think? How do YOU discipline your wee one? All thoughts are welcome – I just ask that we all be respectful of each others’ perspectives…

XOXO – Rachael

24 thoughts on “Time Out or Time to Spank?

  1. Becky says:

    We do the swat sometimes, esp in dangerous situations. Sometimes, its more about getting their attention then anything else. It’s a tough call though. Good luck!

    • I feel like that’s the point, right? Get their attention – sometimes, she’s just having a total fit meltdown and screaming/kicking/hitting/losing it and I don’t want to yell at her. We’ve tried whispering and distracting and tickling then talking and it just doesn’t help. I feel like a swat in this moment might “snap her out of it,” so to speak…Good call, Becky – and thanks for commenting!

  2. Sarah says:

    So I’m currently enrolled in a Play Therapy class all about working with children and my prof who is a well known licensed play therapist & famly/marriage counselor says he does use spanking but with the following caveats:
    -NEVER spank a child when you’re angry. Really never discipline a child in any physical way when you’re angry.
    -Understand that every child is different. Thus for some children you may have to resort to spanking as time-outs aren’t working, etc. so don’t judge
    -NEVER spank hard enough to leave a mark. That’s called abuse.

    So I tend to agree wtih my prof. I don’t have kids yet so I can’t really make a decision until it’s relevant but I’m in the not-ideal-but-may-be-necessary camp (like you & Tim). However if nothing else is working a little corporal punishment may be the key. I know I was rarely spanked but just the threat of it kept me out of trouble (well, sometimes).

    • Ohhhh, Sarah! Thanks for the educated tips – and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the reminder to NEVER spank when you’re angry…it’s easy to get so frustrated with the situation but Tim and I always try to step away if we’re getting to angry. Putting it into perspective for her (and us) helps us to remind ourselves that this is not how she ALWAYS acts…so we’ll say things like “can you please use your words and tell me what is wrong so we can work together to fix it?” – Sometimes that helps – but in those meltdown moments…*sigh* you just have to walk away…Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

  3. This is a hard one. Personally I spanked my children, I did it calmly and explained why. I kind of did it in a way where I punished them to fit the crime. If they are slapping people in the face though spanking doesn’t seem to make sense. When my daughter was younger she bit me and I bit her right back, she never bit again. Also when my son tried to run into the street I smacked him on the tush suddenly and hard. I wanted him to get the point and explaining wasn’t going to get the point across. Also when my kids said bad words or talked back to me I put soap in their mouth, some people think that’s wrong, but it worked. When they drew on the walls I made them scrub it off. A few suggestions!! Probably more than you wanted…. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You know, I think the hardest thing is that I know Pineapple probably doesn’t even understand that what she’s doing hurts…that she’s truly hurting people. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even realize she’s capable of it. So it seems like a pop might let her know that “hey, that’s not comfortable!” But then I feel like we’re walking the line of saying “don’t hit” and then hitting her for it! Feels a little hypocritical..but as my sister says, I’m the parent and she’s the child and she shouldn’t break the rules and being mean/abusive to people is NOT OK and needs to be dealt with…this is just such a tough one! Thanks, Mariah!

  4. bluebayou says:

    As a mom of 2 girls, seven years apart, I have to say this is a quandry? No one WANTS to spank, but, like you said a quick, attention getting pop might just be the answer? Being a new mom, you want them to be PERFECT!? Of coarse ” my child ” doesn’t act up like others do?? Then reality sets in. They are kids! Normal, loving, fit throwing, slapping, screaming, kicking, kids! And then it’s, ” where did I go wrong “??? It’s Not about you, I had to learn. They are a tiny little individual. With their own likes/dislikes, personalities, moods, etc. You have to assess each child and teach them accordingly. Any punishment followed with love and an explanation for the punishment will help her learn the golden rule, ” Treat others the way YOU want to be treated.” Cut her a little slack tho, she’s only 2. And she’s pushing her bounderies. You and dad just have to make her understand, the bounderies are for her safety and well being. ANY disipline given with a loving hand can only help.

    • I know she’s testing us…AND her caregivers…to see what she can get away with – often times her behavior is more about being tricky or crafty than anything. But it’s just not OK to be mean and lash out when you’re having a fit – no matter your age…even if you are only 2. *sigh* I want her to be respectful of others and not act out in anger…and I have to be careful and watch my anger level as well when she IS acting like this. But you’re right, she is just a wee, little kidlet…I know I have time to work through this issue – it’s just super hard while it’s happening. Thanks for stopping in and sharing, Bluebayou!

  5. Lorri says:

    I don’t think spanking is the right direction to go. If she is doing these things a lot then you will be spanking a lot. I think spanking is okay in dangerous situations like running out in the street, sticking a fork in the outlet etc. but I see it as negative reinforcement if it’s used too much.And if she is hitting, then how is hitting her okay? Taking away privileges or items of value to her and having her earn them back may be a way to go. Then “catch her being good”. Let her know when she does things the right way. Make her feel proud of doing the right thing. Every once in a while I randomly do something special for my kids when they have been helpful and good to show my appreciation for their good behavior, because frankly, I did appreciate it! I also believe in being up front and honest with my kids. I will talk to them explain what I expect from them and help them see the situation from another perspective. Ask her her opinion. “Is this the right way to behave?” “How much would you like it if someone did this to you?” “Why do you think it is okay to behave this way?” My final suggestion is set a short term goal for that day at school or whatever situation. On the way to school, recap the conversation casually and then ask her to do her best to be nice and behave TODAY, if she does a good job, restore a privilege and praise her, point it out to others (“Lets call Dad and let him know what a good job you did today!”), make her proud of her accomplishment. And be consistent about it. These are the things that seemed to help me over the years. My boys are 19 and 12 now and they are pretty nice guys if I do say so myself! Hope it helps! Good Luck!

    • I think it is a REALLY good reminder to think about the fact that lots of bad behavior could lead to lots of spanking – and that is NOT something we want for our Pineapple. I think the point would be to grab her attention – not look at this as a long-term solution. and remembering to always reward those positive behaviors is a good reminder, as well – often times, it seems like parents forget to acknowledge when things are going well – I know I’ve been guilty of that – though we do try to reward her with stickers (her FAVORITE) when she’s used her manners. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for the really great advice, Lorri!

  6. Jenny says:

    I have a friend who went through something similar. She said she always made sure to give a warning before spanking, to ensure the child understood that the spanking was not done in anger but instead was a consequence of the child’s actions. Also, I’ve read you can use a rolled up newspaper, it makes a lot of noise but doesn’t hurt much. Is that creepy or a good idea? I can’t tell.

    • My sister does the same thing with my nephew. She actually removes herself from it, so to speak, so she can stay really calm. She’ll explain that he is “breaking the rules” by behaving in a certain way and if he repeats that behavior, she’ll have to follow the rules and give him a pop. It really works for them. He’s a very well-behaved boy and she RARELY ever has to punish him in any way at all, much less with a swat.
      You know, I’ve heard the newspaper thing, too. Someone said that it’s the difference between “hitting” and “spanking” and helps the child understand that when they are hitting, you’re not just hitting them back…I don’t know though..I’m with you – I can’t tell! :S Thanks, Jenny!

  7. I found your post linked on Twitter and just had to respond. I grew up being spanked, and my parents did the whole “spank calmly” thing. I used spanking to discipline my kids for awhile and I quit all spanking one year ago for many reasons you can read about at my blog if you like(you can also read about what dicipline methods I use now). I think the biggest dilemma with spanking, is that eventually you end up spanking for everything because no other discipline works. I have a 2 year old who also has that “when she was good she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid” personality and I’ve found that spanking only made her worse. My kids hit each other and had alot more anger back when we were using spanking, and I feel that eliminating it from my parenting has forced me to be more creative in my approach instead of just relying on “force”. I give my kids distinct boundaries and remind them about them often (we have long talks about what we can and cannot do when we are on the way somewhere). Sometimes kids go through phases of bad behavior because of some other area of unrest in their life? If they can’t control something else that is bothering them, they try to control whatever else they can through bad behavior. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to learn to cope with change. Also lots of love communication and positive reinforcement of good behavior. I’ve also found that my 2 year old is HIGHLY effected by whether or not she is hungry, so making sure she eats on time has helped with her behavior alot. My bottom line was that I found myself getting more and more frustrated with my kids behavior when I was using spanking, and I found myself more and more likely to discipline in anger, even if I wasn’t showing it outwardly.

    • Hey Lady – I’m definitely going to swing by and read your story – I’m searching out all sorts of insight on this topic!
      I’ve seen this happen with kids, too – having the more aggressive discipline measure result in more aggressive behavior fromt he kids. And you are spot on in recognizing that hunger/sleepiness, etc. will have a severe impact on my little Pineapple, as well. In those instances – particularly when she’s sleepy – we don’t even battle it out…we just say “oh you seem so tired, let’s get you a nap/to bed” and we help her wind down. That’s really helped us to keep perspective, too. Really good insight – thank you so much for sharing!!!

  8. Erin says:

    I don’t do actual spankings but Eli did get on a big hitting kick for a while there and no amount of time outs would stop him. We started smacking his butt one time immediately when he would hit us and it stopped it within a week. We would explain how hitting hurts and he didn’t like it when we hit him so he shouldn’t hit others as well. Now if he hits us (which is rare) we usually say, “You don’t want us to hit you, do you?” and he’ll say no and give kisses. I don’t want to spank my child but I’m also not going to sit there while he clubs me or other children and lesser interventions have proven ineffective. It was a totally painless padded diaper butt smack but it seemed to shock him enough to get it through.

    We only do it for hitting. All other no-no’s get lost privileges or time outs.

    • I like this Erin – you had a short-term response for a problem and it got the point across for Eli. He remembers what the result of his action was and he’s stopped repeating it with a gentle reminder – that’s what we’re hoping for…I just really wish the timeouts would cut it – or that she had some item she was really attached to that we could “ground her from,” so to speak. I’m thinking of ramping up the treats for good behavior to see if that might help, too…Thanks, Erin!

  9. Oh man. I totally understand where you are at…just today I asked some moms at my MOPS group how to handle discipline in this one situation Rayna does (yelling loudly when we ask her to be quiet or stop talking for a minute, mostly in the case of an important phone call ;o) she will literally scream just to be antagonizing and most of the time we are in the car, at a restaurant, etc. when a time out or spanking won’t work, it has me at my brink, but ANYWAY)
    But I do think that it is ok to spank in instances where time outs are just. not. working. With Rayna she learns her lesson best through time outs than through a little swat on the diaper, but I’m not opposed to spanking, as someone else said, every child is different and what works for one won’t work for some.
    I have a friend that swears by the 1-2-3 counting method, where I guess 3 could be a spanking or whatever seems to get her attention, and most of the time the behavior begins to be squashed right when you start counting.
    Gee I’m rambly tonight. Hope this helps!
    โค Bay

    • Hey Bay – I’ve been trying the counting…and she just counts along and then screams “NO!” and swats at me! That little stinker!!! Rayna and Pineapple are so close in age – it’s good to know I’m not alone in going through this but I’d much rather both our little girlies would remember their manners!

      Good luck, Bay – miss you!

  10. SWK says:

    Totally know where you’re coming from and I’ve done the “if you don’t stop X, I will have to spank you” threat and I can tell you that even that feels awful after – thank god I didn’t have to act on it. I’m sure at some point, I’ll have to go there but I am like you avoiding it as long as I can.

    The best advice I ever got was to exhaust every natural consequence first and then go from there if you need to go into time outs, spankings, etc. Meaning, your kids will battle you less if they feel like there’s some way that the consequence for their actions makes sense. Jack doesn’t want to get dressed for school in the morning, as an example. Instead of a battle of wills with some punishment assigned to not listening, I say, ok, your choice, you can go to school in your pajammas and see what all of your friends say about that. Instantly, he has his clothes on because it’s now not something mom is mandating, it’s X as a result of doing or not doing Y. I’ve found that using this for everything I could think of (and wow, sometimes you have to get creative about what the natural consequence of an action would be) means that when I do have to threaten a real consequence, both kids are more likely to hear me earlier before it escalates to spanking because they aren’t “over consequenced.” Hope that helps! Hang in there. It’s super, super hard for sure.

    • I like the idea of there being a clear consequence for things…it seems like it would help the child to understand that discipline doesn’t happen because they are “bad” or because the parent is angry with them but because there are consequences in life…very interesting perspective! And I can only imagine out creative that might have to get! LOL! Thanks SWK! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Angie says:

    I guess i missed the part about hitting adults on your facebook post. If she is hitting you and her “substitute parents”….to allow that is allowing disrespect….which at her age now is not huge, she doesn’t even recognize it as that, just “testing”….but to allow it now will certainly lead to worse behavior and a child that is disrespectful. And I promise, a respectful “bad kid” gets away with WAY more than a disrespectful one!!! (I know this from experience. My 2nd darling boy, Noah, is an all-boy little stinker, but he is very respectful to adults-and it’s saved his posterior end many a times!). There’s no doubt discipline methods are a personal choice, and as mentioned, nobody wants to spank….but I would certainly pop her cute pineapple boo-tay!!! Get girlfriends attention!

    Also, keep this in mind, these traits she’s exhibiting are signs of a leader. She’s hard-headed, persistent, smart (manipulative?) and strong….and children like that are HARD to rear. But if you look at it as positive personality traits that just need a little tweaking, it makes the journey more bearable. These very traits are what will get her places in life! (But girl, you’ll be bald as a bat by the time you get her there. The third day of 1st grade Noah’s teacher requested a conference. She simply said, “he’s a natural leader. Problem is he likes to lead the whole class the wrong direction”….yeah, it was a dang long year!!!!!)

    • I hope we get teachers with a sense of humor, too! ๐Ÿ™‚ Her teachers now love her and thankfully, they put up with her shenanigans but it does make me giggle with the other parents all know my kid’s first AND last name because their kids always say the two together…let’s me know that the teachers say her full name a lot, too! LOL! She is a mess but she’s all mine – and I love her energy and spunk. People stop me in the store and say “she’s so vivacious” or “she just glows!” I can’t imagine discouraging that sort of person from being exactly who she is…. so I say, GO NOAH and GO PINEAPPLE! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Angie!

    • I imagine her singing some sort of “oh it’s whippin’ time it’s whippin’ time yahoo yahoo, it’s hiney whippin’ time” kinda tune. ๐Ÿ˜› If you ask me, everybody in that picture looks like they might be enjoying that spanking a little too much! LOL! Good to hear from you Aletheia! Miss you!

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