Your kids are growing up and starting to become quite a handful. It seems like they are often bent towards defiance, provoking one bad situation after another, leading to disciplinary action. It is enough to cause a parent to wonder if parenting was ever supposed to be this difficult. You start to think that maybe you should have put off having kids and gone to medical school instead.
Strange as it may seem, it is normal for children to test boundaries and develop their character from creating a modicum of trouble. Every parent should be aware that children are not automatically born with a clear understanding of right and wrong. In fact, it takes many disciplinary experiences for a lot of kids to begin to understand why it is even important to behave in a civilized manner. But, until the light bulb turns on in their head, there are a few things a parent can do to make this learning process go smoother for everyone involved.
The Parent’s Reaction
When your children act up and misbehave, it can drive some parents to resort to harsh punishments. Reactive spanking has long been a parents quick fix to unruly children. Is this quick fix creating more trouble for you down the road? Whether you realize it or not, children observe your reactions to determine how to set their own values and moderate their own reactions to others as well. They look up to you, even in defiance, to learn how to respond. If an irritated parent spontaneously smacks a child around, what do you think that irritated child is going to do to those who irritate them? This is not to say a spanking is never warranted, but spanking out of uncontrolled anger and as a reactive maneuver is never a good idea.
When Is Spanking Warranted?
If the need arises to spank a child, the last thing you want to do is remove them from the area they were punished in any immediate fashion. You must allow the child the opportunity to learn that the punishment happened where the bad behavior occurred, so that they properly make the association, rather than relating their bad behavior with some place else like their room. Another thing to consider here is that just because a child is being bad, this does not mean that spanking them every time they are bad is even an effective way to punish them. Over spanking children tends to only cause them to fear and resent their parents, not obey them. Spanking is therefore a punishment that should be reserved for cases where efforts to reason with a child in any other manner have failed. If spanking is used, it is important to spend time reasoning with the child to help them understand why you spanked them. In fact, it is best if you have them repeat to you why you said you did it, so everyone is clear why the spanking occurred. Most importantly, it is critical to end any disciplinary action on a good note. Once the child gets the idea of why their behavior caused them to receive punishment, giving the child some credit for learning the lesson is a good motivator for them to behave better and to recognize that you still love them. This way your child will not view you as simply being a mean authoritarian. Rather, they will realize that you reward good behavior too and are acting in their best interests as they mature.