Spare The Rod & All That Jazz

I really need all you Moms opinions here! This is a rather touchy subject but one which I need to raise to get a feel for how we’re doing. Its also a subject that seems to change, you have an idea of how you’d raise and discipline a child before they come along and then suddenly you are a parent with a child and everything you thought previously about parenting changes! I want to talk about discipline!

So here is some back ground. Ava is proving to be exactly as we suspected, a very strong-willed, determined & stubborn child.  She is no push over. She knows what she wants when she wants it. And I happen to like these qualities, actually, that description pretty much describes me to a T. Of course I’m making her sound dreadful, but that is only the one side of her personality I’ve described there. I’ve neglected to include that she’s sensitive and very affectionate, has a passion for books & music and is really quite intelligent. But I’m wondering which is the best way to discipline such a strong-willed child.

Now that she is well and truly a toddler with a fully developed personality, we’re seeing more and more of the strong-willed/determined side of her and it’s not always fun to deal with. I grew up in a home where sparing the rod and spoiling the child was a child rearing philosophy. I think a lot of us from the ’70’s were raised this way. Now I’m most certainly not saying I was beaten or abused as a child. But I was given hidings, when I was naughty and they were deserved. I was smacked with a wooden spoon and when I got older, my Mom had this small leather belt and she’d send me to my room and I knew what was coming. Not that I was thrashed to within an inch of my life, but I was given a few whacks with the belt. It didn’t psychologically scar me or damage me in any way.

Having said that, we are living in different times and for me personally, while I won’t say I will never spank my child, both Walter and I are of the opinion that while spanking has its place with in the realm of discipline, it is not something we want to be doing. We both feel that the “spare the rod & spoil  the child” is open to different interpretations and doesn’t have to be taken so literally, we both believe that as long as there is discipline, it does not necessarily have to mean spanking. There is nothing I find more off-putting than spending time with people who are spanking their children every 5 minutes, or spending time with people who’s children have no discipline and they run wild, there is a balance which one needs to find. Spanking is not what we want to do and it’s not how we want to be with Ava.

My mother, who adores Ava-Grace more than life itself, keeps telling me we need to spank the stubborn streak out of her and I’m feeling conflicted because while I don’t necessarily like the behavior that goes with that stubborn streak, I definitely don’t want to be spanking her. Aside from my own feelings on that, given that it’s a new millennium, I would think that would be frowned upon? Right?

So how do you discipline your children?

Currently, I have found the most effective way of dealing with the tantrums is to simply ignore her and carry on with whatever I’m doing, whether she likes it or not. She needs to learn that in life, she will not always get what she wants when she wants it. Take this morning for example, she wanted to sit at her table and continue to read her books and I needed to get her dressed for the day as I needed to get ready for work. Well, when I closed the book and lifted her out of the chair, you’d swear the world had come to an end. The back arching, the crocodile tears, the shouting her displeasure. I have tried the distraction tactic by offering her something else, but when she’s in the throes of one of these episodes, if you don’t give her what she wants, which in this case was to be put back at her table with her book, she will simply smack whatever it is you’re trying to offer her out of your hands. So I continued to dress her and brush her teeth, even cutting her toe nails – yes yes a bit ambitious I know – while she was in the throes of a back arching, screaming fit. Because lets face it, there are things we all have to do in life that sometimes we don’t feel like doing but they just have to be done, and Ava, like all of us, just has to learn that.

My Mom’s opinion is that I should have given her a swat on the backside but I know from pervious attempts that all this does is serve to affront her sensibilities and enrage her even further. And again, I don’t want to be swatting my child’s behind every time she has a tantrum, I mean after all, she’s 14 months old, I reckon there are going to be PLENTY of these episodes within the next 2 years.

We just want to raise a well-behaved, well-mannered & well balanced child and I feel strongly that this can be achieved without a good walloping every day.

Your thoughts???

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  • Reply waiting4amiracle

    Hmmm, ok. I am not a mom so I can’t offer any advice that is from experience, but I do agree with what you are saying. I was a very well behaved child and so I have only had one smack in my entire life. I’m not a fan of smacking because I think it sends the wrong message, but I do believe in discipline………I actually don’t want to say to much because I am worried that I am going to have to eat my words in the future. But in the mean time I am for ignoring bad behavior and rewarding good behavior.

    February 9, 2011 at 10:00 am
  • Reply lea2109

    Firstly it is probably illegal to smack in Aus (it is here). Secondly I personally found time out works perfectly. If you ever watched Super Nanny, she really does have great tips on there. Praise the good stuff, ignore the little things that are not so bad, but that you don’t want to “pay attention” to, but the really naughty things like if she was to bite, or hit and so on, best to say “no!” in a firm voice, it happens again, “time-out”.

    Time out also only works if you are consistent i.e. If the child “escapes” before the time is up (usually 1 minute per age), then you put them straight back without a word (they soon get the message). You then explain why they were in time out when the time is up, ask them to say “sorry”. If they don’t want to say sorry or are still cheeky, then “sorry more time out until they are ready”. If my kids were to throw stuff around for instance I expect them to pick it up again. If they throw a temper tantrum in the shops, I start walking away (although South Africa perhaps not the best for that one). If you let them escape or if you let them not say sorry, they will never learn from this and end up thinking this is a big joke.

    We are reasonable. We are lots of fun. But we also have very specific behaviour expectations and yes we do discipline when needed (but we don’t feel we need to smack and time out works well enough). Neither of my kids throw temper tantrums because they know I’ll ignore it or walk away. We can go to a toy store and they know often it is just to look and they are happy to go when I say it is time to go. We actually give pocket money now so they know if they don’t have enough or if they don’t have it with them, they won’t be able to buy anything. Even when we go to a park, when I say it is time to go home, they know that this is what is expected. Even when Bianca was on treatment she knew what sort of behaviour we expected. I.e. it was okay to feel sad or unwell, but not okay to hurt somebody or to shout at somebody.

    I think it is very important that Ava knows “you are the mommy and you get to make the rules”. Otherwise she will keep manipulating you as she gets older and each time expecting to get her way and reasoning with a spoilt 7 year old is incredibly frustrating. I’ve seen it before and it is hugely unpleasant. Sure Ava will try her luck. All kids do, but they do need boundaries and structure to guide them on their way.

    February 9, 2011 at 10:02 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I agree with time-outs and naughty chairs and we will definitely be implementing that when its age appropriate but for now, reasoning with a 14 month old or putting her on the naughty chair for a minute is just not going to work.
      For now I’m working on the reward the good, ignore the bad but I have no doubt that should my patience run out, in moment of weakness I may swat that cute little butt. I just don’t ever want to be spanking her in anger.

      And corporal punishment is illegal in SA too, but nobody really bothers to police it.

      February 9, 2011 at 10:12 am
  • Reply To Love Bella

    Ok, well I’m not THERE yet, but here are my ‘ambitions’ when I get there! 🙂

    I was also spanked as a child, but usually with a hand or slipper (and by mom, not dad – he just point blank refused to hit me!). My mom had a leather cat-o-nine-tails thingymabob, but never actually used it on us, as it looked more like an instrument of torture!! Heavens knows we were so scared of it! If I backchatted or ‘swore’, my mouth was literally washed with soap (not aggressively, but soap was put in my mouth). And I know that as a toddler, if I touched something which was a No-no, my hand was smacked (with 3 prior warnings).

    I believe is a degree of discipline. And I do feel that each child / situation is different; it’s all about finding the balance. My nieces on Travers’ side don’t get ANY discipline, let alone a raised voice, and it SHOWS. I am mostly aghast in their company and at their blatant disrespect.

    I would ignore at first, as you did. And continue as per normal, not taking note of their tantrum. Having said that, there may be a time when my patience doesn’t exist for that day and a bottom-smack may be in order.

    Thing is, Bella is a sensitive soul too, so I think that it’s all about gauging. It’s hard. Travs and I have spoken about this at length too, and we do feel that a small hiding, if deserved, may be in order. Sounds TERRIBLE to say.. but it’s not like we would beat her every day!! AND we would issue 3 warnings – or something like that. By the time we have to say NO for the 4th time, it may warrant a smack on the hand or whatever.

    I believe that in the UK you are not allowed to physically discipline your child – again, with his niece and nephews there, it shows. That’s just my personal feelings. I don’t see any respecet towards adults from these kids…..

    February 9, 2011 at 10:06 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Chops, my HO is that you perhaps your family in the UK are missing the boat because they believe that spanking is the only form of discipline, which I don’t believe it is.
      Perhaps if they tried other forms of discipline – docking pocket money, the naughty chair, time outs that would work better than doing nothing?

      February 9, 2011 at 10:13 am
  • Reply lea2109

    PS and I have to say, that we find with our kids giving lots of praise, “I love you”, “I’m proud of you” when they do good things often make them want to do more “good things”. Which I’m sure you do and will see the effects really soon :-).

    Good on you for sticking to your guns. If you gave in this morning and put her back at her table you would have taught her that she’ll get her way by throwing her tantrum. Now she knows it actually didn’t help :-).

    I’ll never forget Bianca must have been almost 2, or maybe she was 2 can’t remember. But one morning we were running late. Terence took her and put her in her car seat and she wanted me to put her in her car seat and boy did she scream! All the way to the train station “I want out! I want out! I want out!”. Tears streaming down her face. Got there and he took her out and she screamed “I want in! I want in! I want in!”. Got on the train which we had to run for and she sat on my lap and she cried, and cried and I looked at her and said “if you are going to do that, then I am not talking to you” I turned my head away and ignored her and she took my face and turned it towards her :-). But yes, she quickly learned behaviour like that was just going to be ignored and not give her what she wants 🙂

    February 9, 2011 at 10:12 am
  • Reply rumneym

    Sharon just a bit of useless info or useful info on the naughty chair. I have not started using it yet as I still feel J is too young but a friend has a little boy the same age and she uses it. He was doing something naughty and she put him on the chair and repeat repeat repeat… then break through on the 3rd or 4th time he started doing whatever it was and looked at the naughty chair and looked back and Said “Uh Oh” shook his head side to side and stopped. Clearly he understood what it was was about and it worked. Good luck – its not easy thats for sure.

    February 9, 2011 at 10:45 am
  • Reply Nisey

    I don’t know why i’m bothering to comment because as you well know NOTHING i’ve tried has worked!!!

    We’ve done time out, smacks, taking away toys or television. Stern NO’s, ignoring tantrums (even in Woolworths!), praising good behaviour, threats etc etc. On Monday I resorted to tears (mine not his…) not my proudest moment!!!!

    keep trying until you find something that you’re comfortable with that works – discipline has got to be the hardest part of parenting 🙁

    February 9, 2011 at 11:15 am
  • Reply teamedeling

    One helpful thing I have realized is that each child reacts differently, and while I was taught at the Toddlersense seminar to “ignore tantrums”, Dr Sheryl Cohen helped us to realize that Kaitlynn needs to be “taken” out of her tantrum lovingly. And 99% of the time this works.
    So…. I think once you understand your child’s personality and come up with a tailor made plan for her, life will be easier. And also if you accept that a toddler should behave a certain way, life gets easier.
    And you do understand that.
    Why don’t you find a workshop on this topic that suits you both and take it from there?
    But make no mistake, some days all the “plans” go out the window…. lol!!
    Good luck!!

    February 9, 2011 at 11:22 am
  • Reply darylfaure

    Hey Sharon! Yes, this is always a touchy subject. Dylan is extremely stubborn as well, and something I have found to be very effective with him at the moment is putting him in his room for a time out. The first few times I took him in myself and stayed with him and shut the door, and just let him calm down a bit, explaining why I had brought him to his room. Now I take him to his room, put him in and pull the door closed. He screams blue murder, and I don’t do it for more than 30 seconds, before going in, hugging him and telling him why I sent him to his room and what I want him to do. Now just the threat of going to his room is a very effective way of getting him to do something.
    It’s very important that if you threaten something, you then follow through with it if LO is not behaving, so it is very important that you choose your threats carefully, and make it something you can follow through. Dylan gets about 2 chances and third time he gets sent to his room.
    He also gets the odd smack on the hand or bum if he is being very naughty or heading into danger. I would never smack with a tool or implement, although we used to get hidings with a belt and it didn’t ruin us.

    February 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm
  • Reply trishdg

    Every child is different, and I have 2 spirited boys so heaven help me but I have to say that disciplining my 3 year old is way easier than my 2 year old. I just say I am confiscating his fav toy / no TV or treat and he is as good as gold (also because he knows I always follow through)
    Sigh but like Ava, my 2 year old has big tantrums over nothing and I cannot reason with him. I have tried time out but then he is so stubborn that he refuses to leave time out and sits for the rest of the day in the corner and it breaks my heart plus another temper tantrum when I try drag him out the corner. Ditto for sending him to his room. I do the odd light smack to the nappy but mostly I just ignore him or lock myself in the bathroom to escape for lack of a better plan. Both boys know that if we are out and they are naughty then back in the car we go. It is hard but I just leave the shops or friends house or whatever and leave. This works well – they know that there is no tantrums while we are out – I hate seeing screaming kids just being allowed to scream in public places. Good luck and hope you find something that works for you and if it any consolation it does get better and the random tantrums do stop as they get older!

    February 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply zamom

    I am also very against smacks. The only time I do is if they are endangering their own lives – running away from me in a car park or anywhere near cars or if they purposefully hurt each other or anyone else (after I’ve given them a warning not to). We use time-out with Ava very effectively. You’d be quite surprised at how young one can start. We have a step in the bathroom and she sits on the step and I close the door for just over a minute (her age being 20 months). I go down to her level and in a stern,calm voice explain why she must stay there. After the minute is up I go in, give her a cuddle after she’s said sorry and off we go, all forgotten and she behaves beautifully after that.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm
  • Reply pandoragelb

    Had to do a timeout half way through reading this!!
    Am not for smacking either. We use the naughty corner, or s they call it at Creche, the Growing Good corner. We started quite small and now at 22 months, she stays there until she is allowed to leave. she also says sorry first, and we explain what she did wrong. We always hug and say we love her. Already if I ask her if she wants to go to the corner, she says no, and stops what she is doing. Not to say she doesn’t then try again a few minutes later! But I do see it working slowly.
    As for tantrums, she also has a very stubborn streak, and a strong will. I don’t want to get rid of that really, but I want her to learn toapply it correctly. We ignore it or try to distract her. It is not fun, they get worse as it goes on. She has spent a whole hour in the car screaming for some arbitrary reason. If I need to dress her etsc I also carry on regardless, it sometimes takes all my willpower not to react.
    I avoid taking her to shops now or anywhere likely to trigger a tantrum. Hopefully she will grow out of it eventually.

    I feel smacking them shows them that this is what we do when we are angry or unhappy. She already smacks us when she is upset, so I don’t want to re-enforce that.

    The other thing we decided is to pick our battles. We let dome things go, and if she wants a more tomato sauce with her food, for example, we let her. We don’t want to fight over every little thing, it is so draining. Some things are not negotiable, such as being in the car seat. But others are really not all that important.
    So good luck, it does get worse as they get closer to 2.

    February 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm
  • Reply lolly

    This can be such a contentious topic! I think all the moms here have handled it amazingly! 🙂

    We smack. Jessie is a pretty good kid. We set the expectation and 95% of the time she will do what she’s told. But she’s a kid, so obviously we have battles. For her, being sent to sit on her bed for 3minutes is worse than a smack, so for her that’s what we do.
    Jack… Is another story. He does not respond at all to time-outs. In fact often he doesn’t respond to anything. We take away priviledges, it doesn’t help. A smack doesn’t always stop the behaviour for good, but he does learn quicker. We smack on the hand or bum. He does get a warning before a hiding. And afterwards always a hug telling him how much we love him.
    We will never smack our kids in public, or in front of others. We take them to a bathroom and they receive their hiding there.

    February 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm
  • Reply marina1605

    Great advice in these comments! I also believe that each child is different and will react differently to discipline. Growing up, my husband and I were both given hidings, and we turned out fine, so I don’t see a problem with the odd smack on the bum if it’s deserved. Claudio is incredibly strong-willed and I can already see we’re going to have our hands full by the time he turns 2 {he’s 17 months old now}. I pretty much ignore him if he throws a tantrum, or distract him with something else which doesn’t always work. I don’t think he’s quite ready for the naughty corner/chair/time out yet, but I would like to implement it as soon as I feel he will understand it. For now, a little smack on the hand and/or bum when he’s really naughty seems to do the trick.

    February 10, 2011 at 9:44 am
  • Reply Fiona

    I think smacking has it’s place but definitely not for a 14 month old toddler. At this stage they are still emotionally immature and I believe it just teaches them bad habits ie. If someone is making them cross they will smack them because that’s what they are taught will happen to them which will cause more headaches especially if she goes to play group.

    When Zoe was at this age we would just ignore her tantrum and by 18 months we would tell her to go to her room which she did, slammed the door and within a minute or two she had calmed down and we would find her playing with her toys and in a much happier demeanor. By 2 we realized she was old enough to go sit in the corner of the dining room on her naughty chair and it works wanders. It will even work if we aren’t at home…all I have to say now is “Zoe do you want to sit on the naughty chair” and she’ll say no and stop her naughtiness.

    Good luck, this age can be trying but it can be so rewarding too. Enjoy her!

    February 10, 2011 at 9:58 am
  • Reply thebinges

    Mmmm touchy subject indeed… I simply cannot ignore a temper tantrum. I feel that by doing so I am enforcing the behaviour and allowing him to show his frustration in an unhealthy way.

    Having said that, I have no hard and fast rule when it comes to discipline. Has Jordan been flicked on the hand? Yes. Has he had a smack on his bum? Yes. Has he had time outs and attempted desperate reasoning from my side? Yes. I think one has to find their own parental ‘groove’ so to speak. What works for me, most certainly will not work for you 100% and vice versa.

    Personally I love Jordan’s stubborn streak, it reminds me of his father, and as long as he is not harming anyone, or acting outside of the boundaries of societal norms I will allow him to be stubborn because one day it will turn into perserverance.

    February 10, 2011 at 10:39 am
  • Reply mayflowerladybugs

    I limit smacking to situations where they endanger or hurt themselves or another, and also destructive behaviour. Other than that, with Danielle (also strong-willed OMW) the counting to 3 bit workes very well – initially IF we got to 3 she would get a smack, but really she has been so well conditioned now (Pavlof’s child haha) that we get to 2 and problem solved. Rachel responds to time-outs (she hates it) and Olivia really only needs a stern voice!

    I do however firmly believe that discipline HAS to be installed in toddlers and preschoolers, otherwise one misses the boat and you sit with out of control teens.

    Tantrums I just ignore (with 3 kids running around I actually don’t even have time to pay attention!).

    So far I think we are doing OK, although these kids learn new tricks every time you think you have them where you want them!

    February 10, 2011 at 11:05 am
  • Reply Mash

    Not a mom but you know. Have to have my 5c worth. I grew up in SA, but my parents are Europeans and totally against smacking. I don’t recall ever getting a hiding, but I do recall being sent to my room and it was a horrendous punishment, so incredibly shameful (it wasn’t something that got doled out easily). I used to sometimes wish I could just get smacked and have it over with. The other punishment was “if you don’t behave I’ll tell your dad”. It was ALWAYS enough to stop us from misbehaving (when my dad raised his voice we were terrified), although I totally disagree with making one parent the baddie.

    In hindsight I’m not sure we got enough discipline, but the families where kids got smacked seemed to have naughtier children than us (I mean, what if they aren’t scared of pain?).

    Also, a tantrum is a display of emotion… not sure if I feel it should be punished? Does it give a child the message that emotions are unacceptable? As they get older, they’ll soon realise tantrums are a SOCIALLY unacceptable way of displaying those emotions, but still the emotions themselves are part of life. Not sure how old kids are when they can differentiate between “Mom doesn’t like me feeling this” and “Mom doesn’t like me acting this way when I feel this”. I think the way you have been ignoring them sounds perfect. Of course, I’ve never had the pleasure of a child throwing a full blown public temper tantrum, so it’s easy for me to say I wouldn’t smack.

    Good luck, I’m sure you’ll do a great job xxx

    February 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm
  • Reply thebsdiaries

    I haven’t read all the comments. However in my experience. I started out time outs and reasonable talk and yadayada – and some times I actually just have to smack him. I feel bad, but hey, it does work. But then he is four – from about 3 years the defiance was incredible and I would definitely smack for lifethreatening things like running across the road etc.

    February 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm
  • Reply kirstymac72

    With 3 kids – I have to say that different things work for different children. It is trial and error to find what their “achilles heel” is… but that is the crux.
    My eldest son: all I have to do is threaten… and he stops. I have never had to smack, do time out, remove toys etc… he is a sensitive soul, and if he sees that he has angered me, upset me… he stops.
    My madame is a whole law unto herself! She is now 4, and therefore I can reason with her better – but as a young child, I often had to put her in the cot and walk out the room…. Now, I just need to threaten with her extramurals or her Hello Kitty collection. I warn that if she carries on, there will be no gymnastics this week etc…. and she stops! The important thing is – that if you threaten, and they crry on…. you HAVE to follow through, otherwise they know that they are empty threats. Chances are, you will only have to follow through once.
    Kids are smarter than we give them credit for…. if she plays up, threaten to remove upsy daisy…. she’ll learn quickly.

    February 12, 2011 at 8:57 am
  • Reply orbit365

    I don’t like smacking. I was given hidings as a child and it still haunts me. We do time-outs, removal of favourite toys, and stern talkings -to. I think that every child is different and you need to figure out what works for you and your child as you go along. You will find your groove. You are doing well.

    February 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm
  • Reply Jessica Emilia

    Well I’m not there quite yet but…
    We already tell Savannah ‘no’ sternly b/c we feel that she understands. So if she is touching my face a little roughly or going for an object that she should not (like my keys) she hears a strong ‘NO’ and believe me, she understands.
    I was raised this way: I was told something 2x and the third time I got a quick spanking. Back- talk, or raising a hand to another child got an automatic spanking. My mom and grandma whom raised m,e did not tolerate disrespect or lying.
    My husband is very much of the same thinking because he was raised similarly. Looking back I think my mom did a great job with me, and I don’t consider there was any abuse. The amazing thing is that I always knew she loved me, even if I got spanked I understood I had it coming.
    So I am a believer in corporal punishment, but as kids get older they understand more so I intend to hit less. I don’t see my views changing much as she grows older – but who knows.

    February 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm
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