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To Spank or Not to Spank

spanking.jpgWhen I was in college I remember reading proclamations from experts who said that you should never hit your child?no spanking, no swats, nothing. I personally agreed with the experts, because I couldn?t imagine ever wanting to exert physical harm upon my own child, no matter what the circumstances. While I was pregnant with my first child my husband and I both agreed that we would never hit our kids because we would use alternative methods for discipline. We figured that we?re both educated people, so how hard could it possibly be to reason with a child?

Ah, naivety. As my daughter began to walk we ran into all sorts of situations that resulted in me having a strong instinct to give her a whack on her bottom to get her attention. There was the time she dashed out of my grasp in a parking lot and almost got hit by a car. There was another time when she ran away from me at a pumpkin patch, laughing with glee as I frantically tried to catch her with my newborn son bouncing in my arms. In these instances, and the many similar instances we encountered in her Terrible Two?s, I suppressed the urge to teach her a lesson with a spanking. I?m not saying I remained calm, but I didn?t hit.

The closest I ever came to spanking my daughter was at a department store. My daughter was deep in the throes of a huge fit, and it just so happened to come to a crescendo when we were in the bathroom stall. She was flailing about on the floor (of the bathroom, gross!) and I was trying to get my newborn back into the stroller while he was screaming too. I was frazzled. I reached down and grabbed my daughter off the floor, and in retort she reached up, ripped my glasses off, flung them on the floor, and smacked me across the face.

As my friend Laura might say, ?Oh no, she did not just do that!?

I pulled my daughter up over my shoulder and positioned her for her very first swat on the bottom. I even had my hand ready. Right before I did it, though, I stopped myself. I thought to myself about how one simple swat would open up a whole new world of parenting for me, the world of ?Yes, I hit my kids once in a while.? I thought about the bigger picture: My daughter, who had just barely turned two, was dealing with a brand new brother and a mom who was having a hard time figuring out how to care for two babies at once. No wonder she was frustrated. I was frustrated too.

I?m pleased to report I?ve never laid a hand on either of my kids, and my daughter is a well-mannered preschooler now. The fact that I never spanked her makes me confident that I can get through my son?s Terrible Two?s with nary a smack, and that makes me feel like an awesome mom. I?m not judging people who give their kids occasional swats on the bottom, but I want to let expectant and new parents that it is completely possible to avoid spanking as a disciplinary tactic. You?ll find yourself having to count to ten quite a bit, but it?s possible nonetheless.

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