Guest Post: What’s The Alternative If You Don’t Spank? By Dara Stoltzfus

People who spank seem to believe that if they don’t spank, the only other alternative is to let the kids run wild, rule the roost, and become tyrannical delinquents.

But for those of us who have stopped spanking, we know how hard it is to “do” something without hitting.

Just recently my 10 y/o and my 8 y/o had a conflict. The 10 y/o was mostly at fault. She’d called her little sister a name and pushed her. When things like this happen, it triggers the old spanking circuits in my brain. Everything inside me wanted to scold her, yell at her, and punish her…to make her suffer for having done wrong.

So I called her to come talk to me and gave myself a quick “pep” talk as I waited for her.

I resisted the urge to scold and punish…and chose…to discipline instead.

I asked her questions about what happened and I gave her examples I hoped she could relate to.  She told me her little sister, “was being rude and irritating me so I called her a baby.”

I asked her if calling her a baby helped the situation.  I asked her if when she got mad at her little sister for being rude to her, if calling her a baby was polite.  I asked her if calling her a baby taught her little sister not to do what she’d done to irritate her again.  And I asked her why she did it. Her answer was typically childish. In her mind she did it because her little sis had irritated her. (I know grown-ups who think this way).

So I asked her if she could have done X, Y, and Z (different examples) instead of calling her a baby.  I used some funny examples too that made her smile. But with the examples of other choices she could have made, I helped her then to see that because her sister did something, it did not make her make the choice she had to call her sister a baby. SHE made the choice after her sister irritated her. She could have made 1,000 different choices but she chose to call her sister a baby. She chose to be mean.

At the beginning of the conversation she thought, “I called her a baby BECAUSE she irritated me.” At the end of the conversation she understood, “I called her a baby because I made that choice when I felt irritated by my sister.”

As we talked, tears came to her eyes several times usually when I asked the right question and I could see she came to the right conclusion. But the whole time her eyes and attention remained focused on me.

Then she told me some things that have been bothering her about what her older siblings have done to her, and more tears came. We talked about those things and I encouraged her not to follow their examples.

It took 10-15 minutes to get through this conversation and in the end…she sat down on my lap and hugged me, thanked me for helping her, gave me a kiss, and told me, “I love you.”

A few minutes later…all on her own…I heard her tell her little sister in all sincerity, “I’m sorry I was mean to you.”

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THIS is what happens when you don’t spank your children.

Had I still been a spanking parent…this would have ended in 30 seconds with a few whacks of a paddle, resulting in tears of pain and an obligatory apology. But instead it took 10 minutes and ended in tears of thankfulness and understanding.

NOT spanking is more painful for the (usually busy) parent in that it takes a lot longer to handle things…and takes a lot more mental energy, willpower, maturity, thoughtfulness, and creativeness on the part of the parent…but the results are worth the effort.

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