Did you watch 60 minutes last night? I did and I wasn't shocked at all by the amount of debate it has raised today.
The story was whether or not we should smack our children. If you missed the story you can watch it here....
After this story I had to admit I was torn on the issue. I admit I have smacked Emily. This is not something I'm proud of. As a parent you can sometimes feel at your wits end repeatedly saying no over and over again with no positive response. Sometimes she would even look at me and laugh. I justified in my head that smacking was OK if she was going to hurt herself (i.e. strangle herself with the blind cord or burn herself on the stove).
After watching last nights show I really sat down and thought hard about when I smacked Emily, why I smacked her and what effect it had on her.
Hubby hardly ever smacks Emily. When he says no she listens. Why is that? Why is it that when I say no she pushes and pushes until she's pushed all my buttons?
I thought about the various types of punishments we have dished out in our house and what has worked most effectively. At the moment the 1,2,3 and then a time out in her room seems to be the most effective. My hubby likes to hold her close when she's having a tantrum and remove her from the room until she's calmed down and initially I thought this was awful. I'd watch her scream and squirm in his arms completely frustrated. However it works. Eventually she stops and now he only has to say a stern "no!" and she stops the bad behaviour as she knows Dad means business. Geez I hate it when he's right!
I thought about Emily's response each time I smacked her and the first time I did it she was shocked (and so was I) and she cried. Now days she either bites or scratches me in return so I think what I've taught her is that it's OK to be violent when you don't like something.
Looking back on last nights program there was a young man who was featured in a 60 Minutes program some years ago on the same subject. His Mum consistently hit him with a spatula and his response years later was very interesting and thought provoking. He said that he found it hard to respect someone who didn't respect him as a child. He felt she didn't respect him because she hit him. She pointed out that they are from different generations and would naturally disagree on this issue. This may be true. But she inadvertently pointed out that as the new generation of parents we can learn from our parents mistakes.
I remember when I was 12 or 13 I was really testing the boundaries with my parents. I would sneak out, deliberately disobey, play one of against the other. I was a mean, mean girl who had lots of hormonal angst and God help me if Emily does to me what I did to them! (She probably will and more since I believe in Karma) This one particular day I had my mother in tears and my father just couldn't take it anymore. He grabbed my arm and smacked me hard. This was probably the second or third time I was ever smacked (and the last) and my response was to run away. Probably not the response my parents hoped for. They wanted me to behave. Instead I did the opposite and ran from the house and kept going until I'd walked right across town and to a friends house. Obviously my friends mother did the only responsible thing she could do and called my parents who immediately came and got me. I look back on that moment now and think I must have pushed them beyond their boundaries to feel they had no other option but to smack me. However I also know that the smack didn't get the positive response they wanted from me.
Physics law says if you put a positive and a positive together you get a positive. If you put a negative and a negative you get a negative. It makes sense that if I want a positive response from my child I should use positive reinforcement.
How do you discipline your child? I'm really interested to know what other Mums and Dads do and does it work?