“If you stand next to the deep end one more time, you are going to time out for the rest of the day.”
That was pretty much my daily, or twice-hourly, mantra to my three-year-old son several summers ago. He absolutely loved the water (still does!) and wanted nothing else but to jump in the deep end to play with his big sister. At the time, he could go in the deep end with “swimmies” and supervision, but he constantly tested me by standing on the deep end edge hour after hour.
Sure enough one day, when my back was turned for a second, he jumped in. Luckily, I was right there to turn around and fish him out unharmed. As promised I sent him to time out, but I remember my friend saying, “You know, if you wanted to spank him, that would have been a perfect time.”
And I believe she was right.
My husband and I have never been “spankers.” When I say that, I mean we don’t use spanking as a regular means for punishment, but we have spanked. My children are ages 10 and 7, and to this day, I think we’ve used spanking as discipline maybe twice for each child. I cannot remember what the reasons were at the time, but it was probably to show an extreme consequence to something they did that was dangerous – or it was the last resort.
And when we spanked, it was one (maybe two) swift spanks to the rear. It was not an old-fashioned over-the-knee bare butt form of corporal punishment.
Now many of you might be offended to hear me say this, but – like my friend said – I believe there is a time and place for spanking. And an age for it too. If a child runs across a busy road (a child who is old enough to know better) – and does it to be silly or defiant thus putting himself in extreme danger– I am OK with a swift spanking to teach a lesson.
If spanking is used as a last resort of discipline – like after repeated threats go ignored – or for talking back, hitting a sibling, or not doing what is told – then I don’t think it’s warranted. Yet, I admit I’m probably not completely innocent of that.
Plus I believe there is an age where spanking – including the threat of spanking – becomes ineffective and even inappropriate. I’m not sure what that age is, but these days, taking away screen time seems much more devastating to my kids!
I feel like spanking is one of those voodoo topics that parents never want to talk about, and I’m not sure why. There are plenty of other forms of punishment (psychological and emotional) that I think can be classified as more controversial versus the kind of spanking I am referring to today. And I’m guessing most of you babies from the ‘70s and ‘80s have probably been spanked at least once. I have, and I think I turned out OK. However, some of you may argue that I probably would have turned out a better person all together if I was never spanked at all!
It’s literally been years since we’ve spanked – or had to use the threat of spanking – so I think my kids have learned their lessons (or so I hope). Like I mentioned above, my kids are at the age where there are many other effective ways to teach expectations and limits without spanking.
But when my son jumped in the pool, I believe that justified a swift spanking even though I didn’t use it. Because guess what? He jumped in the deep end again a few days later.
What do you think? Do you think there is a time and a place for spanking, or do you think spanking should never be justified?