by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
The other day I was at Target (shocker!) browsing through an excellent selection of eight dollar tank tops. They were the extra long style which I happen to need since I am in possession of a serious muffin top, yet I insist on wearing low rise pants. So I was pretty engrossed in the tanks when I couldn't help but notice a woman pulling a dawdling toddler along by the wrist. Apparently the little guy wasn't thrilled to be leaving the purse section across the way from me and he was letting his displeasure be known.
The mom sort of pulled him in little jerks, you know the move, while giving him a sharp, "Come on! Now!" I felt her pain, truly. My twins have been extra tough lately and I've felt all kinds of aggravated at having to deal with them defying me in stores, the car and other people's houses. It's enough to make me not want to take them anywhere except that they aren't much better at home so it's kind of a no-win. But then all of a sudden, the mom whipped her son around and smacked him on the butt so hard the "thwack" noise went right to my gut. The little guy dissolved into crying and wouldn't get off the dirty Target floor, which enraged him mom even more. "Get. Up." she growled at him through gritted teeth while looking around to see if anyone was staring at her son's bad behavior. Then she sort of pulled him up by the wrist, spanked him again and said, "We're going." And he went.
All of a sudden I felt so pissed off. And I tried to see it from her side and not be judgmental. But I was. This wasn't just a swat on the butt due to losing all patience and impulse control - well, maybe the first one was - but once you hit your kid twice, you're a Spanker.
I don't believe in spanking. You might. A lot of people do. So just me saying this may piss you off. There may be some automatic party lines drawn between the "don't mess with my civil liberties" libertarians and the "greater good" liberals. I don't care; this is my opinion.
People shouldn't hit their kids for so many reasons -like it doesn't work. Sure Spankers will tell you that it does; they'll say that once you give a kid a spanking they learn immediately not to repeat the offending behavior again. But studies have shown that spanking doesn’t change behaviors, in fact, it oftentimes makes it worse.
Dr. Phil says on his website, “When you spank, you introduce chaos into your child's world. This tells him or her that violence is acceptable, and it's an OK way to react when you're mad.” If you’re anything like me, when Dr. Phil talks (or jots something down on his website), you listen.
Plus, here’s the thing: when you discipline your kid, you’re supposed to remain somewhat calm and in control right? Well, if your kid is acting crappy enough to earn a spanking, how calm are you really feeling at that point? I know that when Sadie absolutely refused to listen to me recently and instead of getting her shoes on for school, she carried a step-stool into the bathroom, climbed up, got the scissors (which I was sure was beyond her all of two-and-a-half foot reach) and gave herself a mullet, I was beyond pissed. I was livid and exhausted and completely out of ideas –exactly the mood you want to be in to dole out a whooping right?
I was only spanked one time that I recall as a child and I only remember feeling out of control, scared and betrayed. That is not something I’m comfortable with my children feeling because I lacked the discipline to learn how to discipline.
I just don’t think that anyone who says they only give a swat to their kid’s behind when they truly deserve it is being honest because if most people are anything like the woman I saw at Target, they are “swatting” their child’s behind when they are angry and when you’re really mad, you probably can’t stop at one swat. Listen, when you’re hungry can you stop at just one cookie? I know I can’t eat just one cookie when I’ve just polished off Thanksgiving dinner but maybe that’s just me and maybe I’ve gone off topic here.
The point is, I think spanking is wrong, I think there are more effective ways to discipline and I think I need to order some tank tops online because I never did get to buy one.
But I wouldn’t even want to get involved in an argument about it since I have no recently read studies at my disposal (and don’t care to read any. The biggest reason I think that spanking is wrong is that it strikes me as plain lazy. Even in the best of circumstances when you aren’t striking your child out of anger.