Cruising for a bruising

20080726 - Melanie's Birthday party - DSCN1563...
Kids..don't think this image is's never this fun when your parents dish it out.

Alethea wrote:

Is it okay for a parent to strike their child when disciplining them?  The reason I asked is because I was recently asked to leave a WalMart after I slapped my 7 year old child for being out of line, and I feel it was WalMart who was out of line for asking me to leave.  I have a right as a parent to hit my child don’t I?




To answer your last question, no you don’t have a right.  I am okay with the striking part only if you mean “spanking” when you say “slapping”, and I am only okay with it in the event of a “terrible twos” type tantrum, but not in public.  Sound confusing?  Let’s break it down.

Do not ever slap your kids or hit them anywhere but the buttocks and NEVER use anything but your hand.  I know many of us were brought up being spanked by a belt, a reed, a spoon, or chopsticks (yes..chopsticks can sting from what I hear), but that doesn’t make it right.  Your aim with spanking is to whack the child hard enough on their bottom to show them that this is the “last stop” with discipline.  You should have taken all other steps by that point (talking to them, time out, etc.,) and when the spanking time comes, it should be only one or two in my opinion..not half a dozen.  By slapping or hitting your children..or by not taking proper steps before the spanking, you’re showing them that it’s okay to let your emotions get the best of you and to not think things through.  By doing the punishment in public, you’re showing your children you have no patience and value punishment over the lesson to be learned.

My dad was the Picasso of spanking.  He could put my brother over one knee and me over his other and do this cross spank move that had both my brother and I yelping.  It was like his hand defied all of the laws of physics and collided with our buttcheeks with the force of a Mack truck.  It didn’t really, but it felt that way.  He never did it in public (except for my brother getting it roadside on a family vacation once) and he always would wait until we were at home so we could talk about it afterward.  My mom on the other hand, was really good at giving what I call “the look of death”.  It was that look that when we were goofing off in church, she could lean forward and shoot down the aisle and when we looked directly at her, we almost peed a little out of fear.  We had no idea what kind of punishment was coming, but we knew it would be bad (usually grounding or more chores).  I have inherited both traits from my parents as a result.

I have spanked Olivia maybe two or three times in her whole life and it was all before the age of 4.  I learned early on that children fear that look of death and the “unknown punishment” more than the spanking itself.  My MOST effective tool has been “time-out” in which Olivia has to stand (not sit, not crouch, not lean) in my room by my dresser.  She can’t cry or throw a fit because she knows why she is there, and she has to just stand there with the lights off and think about why she is in time out and what she can do to change it.  After a few minutes, she must explain it all to me.  It works brilliantly.  Since I first implemented the time out, I incorporated it with “counting to ten”.  I’ve never really had to get to ten though..”I’m going to start counting..1…2…3…4..” is all the further it usually gets before she springs into action and starts showing good behavior.  It also gives me a chance to cool down.  My look of death is used sparingly between punishments.

I’m not saying my method will work for anyone, but I’m saying it’s effective if done properly.  Children need discipline, but they also need to know how their actions affect their own lives as well as the lives of others.  If your child is 6 or older, spanking shouldn’t be an option.  You should look back at how well you’ve disciplined the child to think of how their actions are being perceived.  If they’re throwing tantrums at 7, there are larger issues to be discovered.

WalMart was right for throwing you out if you slapped or hit your child.  While working in retail, I threw parents out of my stores for swearing at their child, hitting them, etc because it’s not right and I wouldn’t want others to have that image of my business.  If your child was wrong for throwing the tantrum, you were just as wrong for slapping them in public.  Lesson teach your children the right thing to do.