Spanking is Still Taboo, Right?

July 16, 2009

Yes, so we’re deep in the muck, and as a result, I’ve been pouring over parenting advice, from folks like Dr. Sears (although I have always felt wary of Dr. Sears – I find it hard to trust a person who seems to believe he has the ONLY TRUE AND CORRECT set of answers to issues as formless and fragile as those involved in parenting) and even Supernanny, who has a very succinct and mom-friendly website.

I was reading up for information on how to go about starting a discipline system, like time-outs, but I decided to try a more positive approach first, namely, the reward chart.  Laminated poster!  Stickers!  Dinky prizes, hooray!  But before stocking up on happy-face stickers, I realized we had to make sure Moo has all the tools she needs to learn boundaries.  First, we need to tighten up the evening routine.  We’re all just a little too easy-going after Herbie gets home, and Moo always eats and gets to bed too late.  Then, we need to let Moo know what the rules (The Rules!!) are in our house – and that’s where we got stuck.  Supernanny really recommends having as many rules as years of age.  While I’m sure Moo could remember more than two, I have a feeling S.N. is right that she lacks the maturity to really internalize very many. (Wash your hands before dinner/Don’t grab toys/Don’t lick the ottoman/Don’t tap dance on your books/No feet on the table/Your fork is for eating, not hide and seek!)  Ahem. 

And so it was that we hit a wall, trying to decide on just two rules.  We settled on the first one:  Listen to Mommy and Daddy.  (With an implied, “and do what we tell you!” on the end of that.)  But the second one – Say please?  Play nicely?  Share with others?  Use polite manners?  Be kind and respectful?  That last one is really ideal, but this is a girl who crumpled up a piece of paper today and told me it was “plastic poopy” – I don’t know if she’s quite ready to grasp the profound concepts of kindness and respect.

But while we dithered, Moo’s case of terrible two-ness raged on.  And this morning while watching “Caillou,” she spilled her bowl of dry Cheerios on the couch.  After we turned off the TV, I told her she needed to clean up the Cheerios.  This has never been a big deal before – she’s cleaned up lots of spilled Cheerios.  But today, she DID. NOT. WANT. TO!   Her face turned red.  She clenched her fists.  I tried to sit her up, and she went boneless, screaming.  Scarlet spots of fury dotted her temples.  I think she even growled at me.  She definitely kicked at me, which meant I had to fight my own anger.  But I kept my voice low, explaining that she needed to listen to me, that this would only take a second and then we could go play, but she made a mess and had to clean it up.  “NOOOOOOOOO!” she screamed.  We stared at each other.  She tried to slither off the couch.  I put her back. 

“IIIIIIIIII DOOOOOOOOOOOOON’T WAAAAAAAAAAAAANT TOOOOOOOOOO!”

At this point, I saw that my approach was going nowhere, and I was starting to worry that she was going to burst a blood vessel or sprout a second head or something.  So much for the reward chart – the time had come for a time out.

So I sat her in her rocking chair, told her she had to sit there for two minutes because she wasn’t listening to me, and then we’d talk again.  I fully expected her to slide off the rocker and kick and scream on the floor, but she just sat there, blinking at me.  After two minutes, I sat next to her and told her again why I’d made her sit there.  She nodded, slunk over to the couch, cleaned up the Cheerios, and (after some cajoling) apologized.

Wow.

So I’m not giving up on the reward chart idea, but now I see that sometimes, nothing beats a time out.  But it just breaks my heart, because even though I know that Moo is following a time-honored tradition of testing limits and learning free will, I still can’t help wanting to say to her, “But we were having so much fun!  You and me, Mommy and Moo, a happy little team!  Why does it have to end?  Can’t we just keep doting on each other forever?”

Yes, I know the answer to that question.  But I don’t have to like it.

Anyone else feel like sharing their discipline trials and tribulations?  Because I sure would love to commiserate…

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5 Responses to “Spanking is Still Taboo, Right?”

  1. kristi Says:

    Gracie was my hardest two. STUBBORN. STUUUBBORN! I have no IDEA where she gets that. We had a 45-MINUTE marathon of the wills when I asked her to pick up Cheerios once (plus numerous similar repeats). It. was. awful. I won; I had to. And now… she’s delightful! (Except when she’s not.)

    Mary is dishing it out pretty good right now too… if only I could drink. A lot.

    ~Spanking is NOT taboo around here. I don’t care if that makes me unpopular, if done with love, it works.


  2. […] 17, 2009 After the Cheerio Incident yesterday, we needed a happier day, and we found it in a trip to the Phoenix Children’s Museum […]

  3. mamarose Says:

    What’s the deal with Cheerios? Who would have guessed they were such a frequent inciter of toddler wars. So people do still spank! I don’t think I’m a spanker myself, but I was certainly spanked as a kid, and I think I turned out pretty well…

  4. pam b Says:

    benjamin was waited until age 3 to drive me to the brink of insanity. but he was doing some behaviors we did not like about a year or so ago. the book 1 2 3 magic is truly a sanity saver. easy and quick to read. simple and to the point. i highly recommend it. as a matter of fact, i think i need to revisit it

    i think benjamin was about 18mo when we started time outs. and it was for doing things like throwing, hitting, etc. he wasnt as much of a hitter as a thrower. at any rate, i find that even now (at age 3) it is sometimes more effective to put the object in time out than the child. or to take away a priviledge. ie: if she didnt want to clean up the cheerios. fine, dont clean them up. but the next time you eat them, you must eat them at the table with no tv. she will get that pretty fast – smart girl. and then you wont feel like throttling her!

  5. Cat Says:

    I was with my parents not too long ago and said, “You never spanked me right?” I got howls of laughter from my mom. Yes, they did, but said after a few times the threat was good enough and never had to again. I was so young, I don’t recall. I do remember the evil green rocking chair that I had to sit on for time out. It made music if you rocked. Nothing like a tattle-tale chair!


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