I work with families of children and one of topics I seem to discuss a lot is , especially for toddlers. We all know how challenging toddlers are and everyone that has been around a two-year-old understands the saying “The Terrible Twos.”
When my first daughter was two, I had just given birth to our youngest and maybe I was in denial, but I don’t remember her being so difficult and I naively thought it was all down to my parenting. When my youngest turned two, I realized it had nothing to do with me, it all came down to their temperament. Our youngest really did epitomize the “Terrible Twos” and I had to come up with an effective discipline tactic.
Growing up as the middle child of three, my mother’s main method of discipline was spanking. I vowed I would never spank my children; not because I think my mother was abusive, she never hit us that hard, but I think spanking is ineffective. I vividly remember my mom swatting my behind and me asking her “Was that meant to hurt?” and watching my mom try to stay calm as my sarcasm angered her. It did not stop me from misbehaving; in fact, I think it encouraged me to be rude and disrespectful.
Once I became a parent I also realized that by spanking your child you are sending them a message that you hit someone when they do something wrong. And how do you teach your child not to hit others when you hit them? I remember being spanked when my sister and I were fighting; that’s right, my mom spanked me for hitting my sister. Kind of ironic, I think.
So how do you deal with a child when they act out? Well toddlers are easy to redirect before they get into trouble, and if that does not work, remove them from the situation. I was a big fan of too; sitting on the bottom stair or on a chair separate from everyone else gives them (and you) time to calm down.
Now that my girls are teenagers, punishment usually involves loss of computer access, being grounded or loss of their cell phone. Have they turned out disrespectful because we didn’t spank them? No, I think our girls are polite, well-adjusted kids.