How do you discipline your children?

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011 ( 44 moms have responded )

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I want to see what everyone's opinions are. Do you think spanking is ok as a last resort?

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Tara - posted on 02/16/2011

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It's true. If your child behaves because they don't want you to hit them (whether or not it physically hurts them) than the result is a child who misbehaves but hides it, or who feels they must be secretive to be safe.
The way I parent encourages my kids to think about their actions and to adjust their behaviour accordingly.
I gave and continue to give my kids a language for the virtues I desire in them. For example I teach them about the virtue of generosity, I tell them what it means, we talk about how it looks in certain scenarios etc. and then when they understand the meaning of the word, it can be used for praise when warranted such as "Alyssa, you were very generous today when you let your sister use your new markers." and can be used for correction when needed such as "Alyssa I know you just got those yesterday but perhaps you could be generous with them for say 10 minutes?"
This can be used with any trait or virtue you like, patience "thanks for being so patient" or "Oops you need to practice being patient right now please."
The key is not to use negatives like "You're not being patient." instead "You need to use patience, or you need to be patient, or what does being patient look like?" etc. etc.
This is one of the best ways to help kids grow and mature. They are given the tools (understanding of the behaviour traits and how they work) and opportunities to see them in action every single day. And there is always room for practice and improvement within everyone in the family.
One day I was trying to get out the door as I was running late, as I bark at my 8 year old to "hurry up and put you darn boots on!" my five year old says "Mom you need to practice being patient right now please." lol So I did.
I said "yes Aila, you're right. Thank you."
:)sorry for the length, but you asked in the OP how we do it, that's how I do it. I homeschool all my kids so in order for us to be home, we need to have a system that works across the board, with all the kids in all the age groups with all the different personalities.
This one does.

Krista - posted on 02/17/2011

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To put it simply: punishment is when we assert control over our children. Discipline is when we teach them how to assert control over THEMSELVES. And yes, discipline can definitely include consequences for negative behaviour. But it should also include demonstration and teaching of positive behaviour, and rewards when that behaviour is displayed.



I mean hey, we all respond well to positive behaviour, right?



If your boss never trained you on how to do your job, and bitched at you (or hit you) every time you screwed up, how good do you think you'd be at your job? And how much respect do you think you'd have for your boss?



Conversely, if your boss showed you clearly how to do your job, and gave you positive, specific feedback ("Nice work! You really kept your cool with that difficult customer!"), and if you did screw up, showed you how to do it better next time...well, I think you'd not only be much better at your job, but you'd probably have a much better relationship with your boss, no?



Treating our kids the way we'd want to be treated doesn't mean being lax with them or letting them get away with everything. It just means putting ourselves in their tiny shoes every so often.

Charlie - posted on 02/16/2011

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I just read happiest toddler on the block too , it is great , I have used most of it in my discipline methods .

Simple explanation , communication , time outs , reward good behavior so far so good .

Brandi said : I think if my parents would have talked to me more instead of just jumping to punishing me, I would have been more upfront and honest with them.

Same here , I also wouldn't have been an A grade student in front of mum and a total deviant behind her back , I also had very little respect for her for the simple fact I felt like she was violating my body ( yes she only smacked / spanked me) we haven't been able to establish a good respectful relationship until my adult life , even as a child I questioned her ethics towards other humans IE : my sister and I , even as a child I felt it was a violation to lay a hand on me or my sister ( I would often take my sisters spankings and say it was me to spare her ) it got to the point that when I was 16 she was about to smack my sister for something as she raised her hand I grabbed it and said " if you lay a hand on her you better believe Im going to smack you back " we had a HUGE argument but she never smacked my sister or I again , she found other ways to discipline us and even though we were getting in trouble we had a lot more respect for her as a person .

Tara - posted on 02/16/2011

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I have 6 kids ages 14 months, 5, 8, almost 11, almost 15 and 17. I have never spanked any of them. They are all thoughtful, polite and intelligent people.
I have throughout my parenting career treated my children like people. Sure they need guidance and boundaries and limits but my goal is always the same; to give them the tools they need to make wise decisions in life.
I teach them by allowing each opportunity that presents itself to become a learning lessons.
There are consequences to certain behaviours, we have rules in our home. But our rules are simple. Treat yourself and others with respect. Be responsible for your words and actions. Be sensitive to others.
When they break the rules, the consequence fits the crime so to speak, as much as possible anyhow.
If two of my kids are verbally sparring about whose turn it is on the computer, I let them figure it out, unless someone breaks the respect rule and says something mean, at which point I remind them of the rules.
They are still allowed to argue (fight if you want to use that word) but they are guided on how they might be able to solve the problem with respect for each other.
If they choose to still act in a way that they know is wrong, they will be sent from that space, away from that situation until they can apologize and agree to work on a solution together.
That's it. It's not about punishment, it's about teaching.
Now as for younger kids, older kids etc.
Babies need a safe place to explore. I don't agree with spanking at all, it's not a truly effective parenting strategy, it isn't something that can be used over time as a way to teach desirable behaviour. It is punishment.
All children can be taught in a respectful way to behave and all children can respond positively to actions that don't use physical force.

[deleted account]

Discipline is to teach. Punishment is the negative consequences imposed for wrong doing. I have NO problem w/ punishments. I am not a positive discipline Mommy. I read a positive discipline book once and while I liked a lot of the tips..... I disagree w/ the concept. I never want my child to feel bad about themselves, but when they DO something wrong.... I definitely want them to feel bad about THAT.

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Rosie - posted on 02/17/2011

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yes i do think it's ok to do as a last resort, but i stopped doing it because i PERSONALLY found that i do it as a last resort when i am ANGRY. i've found that i don't like the feeling i get while spanking, and i'm sure my kids didn't either. there is a better way, that gives better results without hitting my kid, and i am excited that this site taught me that. :)

September - posted on 02/17/2011

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Personally I don’t think spanking is ever ok. We're all about Love and Logic in our home. Our 2 year old is very well behaved and I've never thought about spanking him, it's just not necessary imo.

Tara - posted on 02/17/2011

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To me punishment does not foster accountability and change.
Discipline expects accountability for ones actions and provides the tools to make changes to their behaviour.
Consequences for my kid hitting another kid would be based on age.
A baby? "Ouch nice touches, kind and gentle" re-direction and modeling kind behaviour with showing a hug or gentle touch.
A toddler? "Be kind to _________. We don't hit people, it hurts and it's not very kind or gentle. Remember how kindness looks?" again show them.
A 3-5 year old "I see you are forgetting to be kind and gentle right now, can you please show me what kind and gentle look like?" ~~ drawing on their own knowledge of those words.. if they can't show me or tell me I will say "Being kind means we don't hurt people, please apologize and if you hit again you will have to play by yourself for a little while until you remember how to be kind."
An older child "Please apologize to _______ because you were not practicing kindness and you have hurt them, you will need to sit out for a little while. When you are ready to be kind and be respectful you can come back to join your friend."
This works for me because they understand what the expectation is, I have taught them these words and what they mean since they could listen to me. Even as infants we use "Be kind to the kitty." etc.
It is a language that they understand and it allows them to put still have their emotions but also teaches them to be respectful of others without me having to tell them each time "How do you think Johnny feels when you hurt him?" or "how would you like it if he hit you?" etc. Those kinds of questions are only appropriate at a certain age, and if they are taught about kindness and trust and respect etc. etc. etc. early they will be able to answer those questions themselves and act accordingly.

Melissa - posted on 02/17/2011

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Thankyou soo much Krista you dont know how much that means. Really thankyou

Jenn - posted on 02/17/2011

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@Teresa :) - so then you would use a time out which is the punishment. I guess I was just not understanding how you don't use punishment (or Nikki I mean) in a case like that - but you would. Perhaps it's the word punishment - some people see that word as something horrible like being spanked or yelled at - I guess you could use the word discipline instead but the end result is the same, right?

Jenni - posted on 02/17/2011

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I love how on DM we can have a discussion about discipline without it turning into a heated spanking vs anti-spanking debate. There's so much more to discipline then whether or not you choose to spank or not spank. The form of discipline is actually a very small part in the teaching process.



I like the idea of using natural consequences. I think I'll put that one into practice more. This morning my son (in the midst of PT) put his new Cars underwear in the toilet. I realized it's not as though he is doing it to be "naughty". He was experimenting cause and effect. The effect he discovered was he couldn't wear his new underwear.



I try to keep my rules simple too. I use time-outs for two rules: No hurting others (my children have never hurt themselves). And not listening to Mommy and Daddy. I like Tara's "respect" rule because it covers any behaviour that is disrepectful. My kids are too young to name call but my son does struggle with respecting other's space (and hitting). So if I change my rule to Respect, it will cover that and other future behaviours. I also don't mind arguing unless it turns into disrespectful behaviour. Yelling or hurting.



I always talk to my children about how their behaviour makes others feel. Not just negative behaviour. Like when you picked up your toys, that made mommy really happy. When you hit your sister that makes us really sad and angry. By this i'm trying to teach them to use them words to express their feelings and to be aware of how their actions effect other people around them.



I *try* not to use No and offer suggestions instead. Explain why they shouldn't do something. My son wants to flush the potty over and over. I tell him we should flush the potty only once because we're wasting water. We need to share water with everyone else.



I have spanked my son twice when I lost my cool. I didn't feel good about it at all nor did I think it was effective. It just made me feel incredibly guilty. I like Krista's suggestion from the Happy Toddler.



Also, yelling is just as ineffective as spanking. It may stop the behaviour initially but it isn't really teaching your child how to behave in the future. I know if someone were to yell at me I certainly wouldn't be receptive to what they were trying to tell me. How can we teach our children respect when we're not respecting them.

Krista - posted on 02/17/2011

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Mandy, I think that is absolutely FANTASTIC that you're looking into other methods. I'm really happy for you!

It's not easy. Goodness knows it's not easy. But it does get easier in time once you kind of figure out a system and become consistent with it, because then your child knows better what to expect. Any time you need support or you're at the end of your rope and tempted to smack for minor reasons, feel free to come on here and vent to us, and we'll be more than happy to commiserate and let you blow off steam.

Oh, and here's a tip from that Happiest Toddler book. If your child is doing something that they REALLY shouldn't be doing (what he calls "red-light" behaviour), you can clap your hands together loudly and say no in a sort of low, growling voice. It sounds a bit silly, but it does actually work. And clapping your hands hard together helps relieve some of that physical urge to spank. And by keeping your voice low and growly, it feels a lot better than yelling or raising your voice all the time. Give it a try.

Stifler's - posted on 02/16/2011

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Well um my kid is 1 so I'm not really up to the 'disciplining him for naughty behaviour' thing. If he does something right it's "yay... good boy *claps*". If he climbs on my dishwasher door I say NO. If he doesn't get off I put him in time out in the play pen for 1 minute. Then he's allowed back out, it's significantly reduced the amount of times he touches the dishwasher when the door is open. But that's as far as things have gone he doesn't really do anything "naughty".

Melissa - posted on 02/16/2011

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well I have just been discussing this topic elsewhere. I dont know how I feel anymore. I definately think its ok but I think not something I should use every time they misbehave. I think I would prefer the time out method unless they are doing something really bad. When your kid expects to get smacked when they do something wrong, you know YOUR doing somethin wrong. It pretty much is the lazy way. Ill still do it but not as a first resort. i think id only do it if my child put herself in harms way. Ive done it the few times shes done something dangerous because Im scared and I think thats ok they definately realise its not on. Im having trouble myself atm, when my kid does something while Im breast feeding I WANT to smack her but I havent been cause Im trying to do things differently. Its hard because It feels like Im yelling and its not working. SO anyways thats my 2 cents

[deleted account]

Good real life consequences to hitting another kid..... not being allowed to play anymore (so leaving the playground or going to time out). Or you could just wait until the other kids can't take it anymore and clobber him back. ;)

Jenn - posted on 02/16/2011

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Nikki - how do you use communication, consequences, consistency and strong boundaries when your child hits another child? I'm also a fan of real life consequences for actions, but I'm not sure what the consequence would be in a case like that - so that's when a time out or loss of a privilege would come into play in my house.

Jenn - posted on 02/16/2011

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I use time-outs, and now that my son is getting older he has had privileges taken away. I have spanked before when I lost my cool, but won't let it happen again.

Nikki - posted on 02/16/2011

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I don't believe in spanking ever and I don't believe in punishment. At the moment my daughter is only 15 months, so I use a lot of redirection, positive reinforcement and ignoring small negative behaviours, I also ensure the environment she is in is set up to avoid unnecessary conflict. As she gets older she will learn through communication and consequences, consistency and strong boundaries.

Sal - posted on 02/16/2011

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i have no real issues with a smack, except it really isn;t effective, on some kids it is but mine it isn't as far as i can see, they kind of have the opinion that a smack is like saying a few hail mary's get it over with so we can go back to what we were doing, i try time out and it is ok to a dregree, but i feel for my girls they are usually being naughty to get attention so ignoring the behaviour is the best option, like if they are having a tantrum at the shops i just keep going and pay no attention (yep can be tricky and busy bidies think i'm just the most slack mum) but it works, if anyone tries to intervien i just polietly tell them i am ignoring her not letting her get away with it, and she calms down and it's over, if i try talking or entering into an exchange with her it bouys her and keeps her momentum up, if they are playing wth something and fighting i remove what they are fighting about, after the immediate anger and confusion they come and ask for it back and play nice, no confrontation just immediate action, my husband smacks sometimes then feels like crap because they cry, and they really put a show on for them, not like if i smack them and they just brush it off, they cry and give him the cold shoulder and make him feel like shit, i tell him wht did he expect he hit is precious baby.....but if the odd smack from mum or dad is the worst that is going t happen to my kids then they are very lucky llittle she devils..

Krista - posted on 02/16/2011

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Just make sure you hide the knives, Teresa, and you should be okay. My sister once chased me up our stairwell while brandishing a cleaver, and I turned out JUST fine! We actually get along quite well now.

[deleted account]

Yeah, the only one of those things I could ban them from would be tv (well, movies), but that's one of the only times these days that they AREN'T fighting (some of the time).... 9 year old girls are scary creatures... especially when you have TWO of them.

Krista - posted on 02/16/2011

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I'm really not a fan of spanking. I'm not going to look down upon a parent if they give a spanking once in a blue moon, but it's just not something I'm comfortable with.

The only times I've ever been tempted to spank my son were when I was tired and frustrated and overwhelmed. So to me, that said a lot. It said that for me, spanking would not be something I'd use dispassionately or fairly. So I've just decided that it's best that I not spank at all.

My son is 18 months old, and if he's doing something he shouldn't, I explain it to him in very simple language ("No stand on couch. SIT on couch.") and will demonstrate what it is that he SHOULD be doing. So far it seems to be working well enough. He really doesn't have much in the way of tantrums, but if he gets pissed off, I verbally state how he's feeling, so that he knows I "get it". ("Sam mad, mad, MAD! Sam WANTS Mommy's cell phone!") I follow it up with a big hug, and the tantrums tend to be really short-lived.

(Why yes, I DO read Dr. Harvey Karp. How could you tell?)

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

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See, it is posts like these that have made me change my mind about spanking, well a little. My kids haven't had a spanking in about 5 months, and that is a record. I was spanking at least once a week. But, then someone said on an older post about it making the child secretive and so on, and I thought about me as a child and it made me go "hmmmmm....."

Marylea - posted on 02/16/2011

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I agree with Julianne on this one. My daughter isn't even 2 yet, spanking her would be pointless. I think that hitting is such a negative thing that we teach our children not to do to others so hitting them as a punishment seems hypocritical imo. When my daughter was younger people in my family would offer their advice on discipline which was to spank her hand. And not really knowing any better I did try it. But I instantly felt horrible and decided it wasn't for me. I've always been told this story of when I was about a year old and I kept touching something I wasn't supposed to so my parents smacked my hand until it was red and even then I still touched it so they smacked the other hand until it was red and how I "never touched things I wasn't supposed to" after that. My dad always says that's proof of how stubborn I was/am but clearly if they didn't want me to touch whatever it was they should have put it away. I personally think that too many parents put too much emphasis on punishment. Granted my daughter is only 22months old and I might change my opinion as she gets older but I think that if she truly doesn’t know better she shouldn’t be punished. When she does something that I know she knows not to do I tell her “no” if she continues I count to 3 and if by 3 she hasn’t stopped I put her on her bed for a time out. I remember being spanked for peeing my bed and hating my father for it. I think that a lot of parents have unrealistic ideas of how children should behave. Kids will make messes and be loud and jump on the bed and when I read/hear about someone spanking their young children over such things I cringe because to me that is so unnecessary. I want my daughter to respect me enough to listen to me, not to obey out of fear. Children are a gift, and should be treated as such. Sometimes parents spank and I don’t think that makes them bad parents, but its not something I ever want to do.
Marylea~

[deleted account]

We use natural consequences, or as close to that as possible when it is not an option. I do not think spanking is okay, even as a "last resort" it is detrimental, but I don't think it will permanently screw up the kid if a parent gives up and pops them on occasion....just not something I would recommend.

For grades, if my son is weak in an area, he gets 15 minutes of one on one study time in that area every day until the next score comes home. That 15 minutes is NOT meant to be "punishment" or even "discipline" it is just meant to help him. He knows that and has asked me to do it on occasion before he receives a bad mark. I make if fun and relaxed, but I make sure he is learning.
For disobedience, he get's the natural consequence. There is a reason for every rule we have and every thing I ask him to do. For example, I make him keep his room clean so that I don't have to step on or around a ton of toys to tuck him in or get to his laundry, so if it is messy, I don't go in the room so he misses out on getting his bedtime story and snuggle, and his laundry goes un-done. I make him wear a jacket because it is cold, if he chooses not to, he is cold. I make him keep his school/sports stuff together and remember to bring it, if he forgets part of it, he misses out on the sport, or that part of the school day.
For rudeness or other unacceptable management of emotions, he is sent to his room. This gives him time to cool off, think through his expression, and figure out a way to express himself without hurting other's feelings. If he asks me to join him and listen or help him find a better solution, I go in and help. He is free to come out whenever he wishes, but if he is rude again, he goes back in, because people do not like to be around rude people.

etc. etc. etc. I honestly cannot think of a situation where a spanking would teach him what he did wrong or how to avoid doing it in the future. That is not to say I have never spanked him, I have, but I will never do it again, and it was completely ineffective.

Becky - posted on 02/16/2011

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We use time-outs, talking/reasoning, and putting toys in jail. My boys are only 1 1/2 and 3, so especially with the younger one, sometimes it's just removing him from the situation, or removing the object from him.
The hardest one for me to deal with is my older son hitting/pushing his little brother. If anyone has any suggestions for that one, I'd appreciate them!

[deleted account]

@ Brandi, i have one rule, that is to not hurt anyone or anything, including yourself. If you think about it, it covers a great deal of things. I do not "enforce" it. That implies forceful measures. I talk to her, explain why each thing is wrong, why not to do it, and she decides that its not a good idea. Knowledge is power and the more i give her, the better her decisions will be. I am going to teach her to decide what is right, not scare her with violence or "enforce" it.

The rule covers hitting, so if i don't want her to hit others i need to teach by example. Children look up to their parents, and if parents are allowed to hit, they will pick up that habit. It will teach her if someone does something she doesn't want them to do, she can hit them. I will not confuse her like that.

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

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@Mike... Yeah, I guess you are right. But, I think if my parents would have talked to me more instead of just jumping to punishing me, I would have been more upfront and honest with them.

I realized I was spanking before I got the whole story out of my kids, and when I finally got the whole story, I felt bad because they really didn't deserve the spanking in the first place..

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

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Well, my kids are not at the teen years or even close yet, so I can't help. I didn't have a sibling either, so I have nothing. I would probably take things away, and stick by it. No t.v. or cellphones (if they have one) no going anywhere with friends, no phone calls at home, and so on. It is hard to stick with it, most people give in within 2 or 3 days, but once you set a time frame try to stick with it, maybe knock off 1 day for good behavior, lol.

Sharon - posted on 02/16/2011

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Brandi - for you you may have been terrified of spankings but since my oldest turned 10 - he hasn't been spanked. And before that it was RARE. He is still scared to show us a bad grade.

He utterly blew off a project in jr. high. Didn't tell us anything about it, it needed our participation. Why? I have no idea, he has no idea. He got a big fat F. He ambushed phone calls from the school, he hid the project notice, and threw away every "parent sign here" sheet that was sent home from the school. He was terrified. Of what? Our disappointment and his punishment. He was afraid we'd take away his video games and soccer.

We talked about it. He did lose his video games. We did the project anyway and he still got the F. We did not take away his soccer. That is not fair to his teammates and I felt it was excessive.

Not saying anything bad about your childhood or your thoughts now on punishment. I just wanted to point out kids will feel put upon no matter what.

LaCi - posted on 02/16/2011

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Well, you could go old school and put them in a small place together so they either HAVE to get along or they fight it out...

They probably won't actually manage to KILL each other... Just hide anything that can be used as a weapon?

LaCi - posted on 02/16/2011

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When I was a kid my dad would give me money for every A I made, Straight A's got a bonus :D That was an excellent way to encourage good grades. I feel so ripped off in college. They should give me discounts every semester for good grades.

[deleted account]

Oh, but I AM looking for some new techniques to try and keep my two pre-pre-teen girls from killing each other, so I AM looking for advice......

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

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Yeah, time-outs don't work for me either. I take away things like the DS or PSP for a week, things they REALLY have fun playing with. And if that doesn't work, then yeah they get a spanking. Things like grades, yeah I want my kids to make good grades (but they are only in kindergarten and pre-k right now) but I don't think I will punish them for bad grades, as long as I know they are trying, I will just try to help them more. That is something I didn't have as a child.

LaCi - posted on 02/16/2011

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I don't think spanking-as a last resort- is horrible. That being said, it's not for me, these message boards convinced me of that.

I actually don't "punish" him at all anymore. When I tell him "no" he usually gets the point. If he doesn't, and he throws a tantrum, I either ignore him or "forcibly" hug him, depending on the type of tantrum he's throwing (he has his pissed off tantrum, and then he has his "i'm much to worked upand i can't stop crying" tantrum which requires hugs), and he'll stop. I used to swat his butt or his hand, not hard, but honestly, it was useless. Time outs? also useless. They worked for about a week. I've just had to get more laid back about things. He's little, he's not doing anything terribly bad.

[deleted account]

Duct tape, rope, and a closet.....


OK, seriously though. I talk to them and use time out. I ground my girls from computer time and candy. I do spank my son on occasion, but it's super, super rare.

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

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My kids have had spankings in their days. I am trying to pull as far away as I can from spanking for a few reasons, but if need be, they will be spanked.

The reasons that I am trying to pull away from it are: I was a very shy, secretive child, mainly because I was afraid I would get in trouble. My punishment was a spanking... with a belt, or hand if there wasn't a belt. I hid things like bad grades and stuff, and tried to forge my mom's signature on notes, and tried to change my grades on my report cards, just so I wouldn't get in trouble. I was very shy, I think because I felt that if I did something that my parents did not agree with, I would be spanked...

I don't know, I guess it is sort of getting to me. My kids are so honest about things right now, so I try to tell them if they tell me the truth, then they won't be in trouble. Rules are enforced at my house. As a parent, I do feel I am an authority figure. Rules must be set and followed, even if it is "eat only at the table, no food or drinks anywhere else in the house". If they don't follow rules they have warnings, then if that doesn't work they sit on their bed in their room, no playing or t.v. or toys. Spanking to me, is a last resort, but I use to do it alot, and it didn't help much. But, my kids know now that if they are getting a spanking it is because they did something absolutely unacceptable.

Sharon - posted on 02/16/2011

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I've never punished my children because they are "bad". There is not a damned thing wrong with my children.

They were punished because they DID something wrong and the consequence of doing something that hurt someone or broke something is a time out, grounding and perhaps a spanking.

Sharon - posted on 02/16/2011

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Yes. Spanking is ok as a last resort.

It was never our first choice for a punishment.

Only my oldest was stubborn enough to push EVERY punishment aside and only a spanking or threatened spanking was enough to curtail him.

[deleted account]

no, i would never spank my child, i do not believe in enforcing rules and being an authority figure, i am her mother, i am suppose to teach her and nurture her. Not suppress her. I take preventative measures to stop bad things from happening, talk to her and explain things, and show her consequences to her actions. I do not show her that she will get hit if shes "bad" because no child is bad, they just don't know any better. Discipline is to teach, spanking cannot be a form of discipline and its a piss off to see it classified as such, its punishment.

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