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Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Time Event
Corporal and other kinds of punishment
So, I have a two year old, and hang around lots of other parents. So this idea of "spanking" comes up sometimes. I don't believe in it. Here are some reasons why:

Things I, personally, learned from being spanked:

- My parents are people who hurt me
- The parent who hits harder is more to be feared
- Authority figures are scary and dangerous
- Disrespect is the only tool that I, a small and helpless person, have, and you can't beat it out of me. So I will cultivate this to a fine art.
- Physical violence is an acceptable method of problem-solving
- If you are bigger, you always get your way
- My parents spank me when they are mad/frustrated/angry and it doesn't always relate to my behaviour

I don't learn best when I'm irrationally angry, so I don't try to teach my child things when he is.

Ways I learned how to act like a more decent person:

- Modeling
- Quiet, gradual encouragement to do the right thing
- Natural consequences (don't put oil in the car = dead engine)
- Peer pressure
- Staying away from bad situations
- Kindness of others

A lot of this line of thinking was encouraged by reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. It's a very secular book, but it's very much in line with the way God relates to us humans. I've never, so far as I can tell, been spanked by God. :-) Allowed to experience the consequences of my own choices, yes.

Being a parent causes a lot of personal growth. I have to put aside my own reactions in order to deal with a situation lovingly. My child may have not taken a nap and be throwing toys around the living room after being asked to stop and having the toys taken away and I may be tired and hungry and he is getting on my last nerve. Believe me, there are times when I have to remind myself of all the reasons why I am *NOT* going to hit my child. But there are lots of other ways to handle it. What I usually do is some variation of getting us out of the area where the bad behaviour is taking place, then address some of the aggravating factors that might be contributing to it. (Hungry, sleepy, lack of attention from mom, etc) This requires.. self control! Hey, a fruit of the spirit! Alternatively, we can redirect the action into an acceptable outlet.. i.e. go outside and throw balls around the yard.

I know that as Mr. Toddler gets older and finds new, more creative ways to misbehave, I will have to keep coming up with new, more creative ways to deal with them. That's ok. It's good for both of us. He gets to learn how to channel his urges to do whatever, how to problem solve, how to deal with conflict, etc.. and so do I. He gets a little more slack, because he is two!

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