Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to teach Respect

So I am finally getting around to posting my views on the question "Do you spare the rod when it comes to discipline?" My sister Danielle has tagged me with this question a while ago, and well, here it is-finally!

I will admit that I have begun to write this post many times. I have written it many times in my head, but I have been having problems articulating exactly how I feel on this issue. I didn't want to offend anyone, or sound too harsh. But tonight, I finally just said "to hell with it!" and will no longer worry about how it sounds......I am just going to write from my heart.

One of the most important values I wish to instill into my children is respect. Respect for us not only as their parents, but as people as well. I want them to respect each other, themselves, and to ultimately have respect for all things around them.

How do I intend to teach my children how to respect? By modeling it. We respect each other, and we give respect to them. It is really that simple. We use please and thank you just as we would like them to. We do not scream our demands, and we expect the same in return. A common phrase used often in our household is "Can you please rephrase that?" We then either help her to find better words to use, or listen to her come up with her own. This simple phrase works in our yelling, no punishments involved. Demands and disrespectful talk is ignored. We are teaching our girls that treating someone with respect will get you respect in return. Yes, we have our conflicts. We get mad, but dealing with this conflicts effectively helps show our children how to communicate their own wants. And the times we do not deal with our conflicts in a constructive manner? We apologize. To each other, in front of our girls. We are not perfect, and do not pretend to be in front of the girls.

So to answer the question, yes, we spare the rod. I have never been able to come up with a reason nor have I ever read anything that could justify inflicting pain onto your child. Some could argue that your child respects you because you spank them. I would disagree. Spanking does not teach your child respect, it teaches your child fear. Fear of you. I don't care if it's in a "controlled environment" or whether or not you clearly explain to your child your reasons for hitting them. It is bringing a certain level of fear into your household, and clearly affects the trust your child has in you. It can also break down the levels of communication within a household. I have experienced this first-hand. My parents spanked us growing up-not often, but they did. I can remember being very young and keeping things from them, even going as far as to lying if I had to....just so that no one would get in trouble. This is not the kind of relationship I wish to have with my girls.

And exactly what are you teaching your child when you spank them? Are you going to spank them for hitting? It seems kind of hypocritical to me. I will never forget an incident I had witnessed in a Target store years ago. Way before I had children. It involved a mother with her three young children. Her little girl, probably 4-5 years old, was sitting in the front of the cart, and her son, probably about 3 years old, was sitting in the back. An older child was walking with her mother. The little girl kept turning around and making faces at her brother, and the little boy kept whining to her to stop (the whining is what first drew my attention to them in the first place). The little boy then got fed up, got up on his knees and smacked the little girl in the back of the head. As the little girl began to cry, the mother grabs this little boy up and smacks his bottom a few times, saying "WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOUR SISTER?" and plops him back down into the cart. This incident has stayed with me all these years, and I found myself thinking about this over and over again as I was thinking about this post. Hmmm, I wonder why this little boy would use hitting to express his anger at his sister? Isn't that exactly what his mother is teaching him?

Personally, I feel that spanking is not an effective teaching tool. Young children are full of emotion, emotion that can be quite explosive at times. I have a child who screams, hits, cries, kicks, and throws things when she is upset and even the simplest of things (in my eyes) can set her off. Yeah, spanking her a few times could possibly reduce these outbursts, maybe even stop them all together. But again, what am I teaching her? I certainly am not teaching her how to gain control over her emotions, or how to effectively find alternative ways to communicate them. Instead, I am teaching her to suppress them, to bottle them up inside (something us Americans are really good at!) I am teaching her that all of her feelings do not matter to me, only the happy ones.

Parenting is tough, and yes, kids can really learn how to push your buttons. Children are forever testing, pushing the limits to see how far they can go. I find that this usually happens on days when I am feeling overly tired and overly stressed! I do not feel that by not spanking my children, I am spoiling them and giving them no boundaries. There are boundaries in our household. We have rules. I do believe in consequences. When I tell my children no, I do not give in. I can offer them comfort, alternative things, but I do not give in. I feel that is important at this age, even if I start to question it myself! As my girls get older, we will continue to find effective ways to keep communication open with mutual respect for each other. This will not always be easy, but I trust that we will find our way.

The Sports Mama found it depended on the individual child and the situation.

LunaNik feels that sparing the rod is bogus and spanking (within reason) is a necessary step in raising respectful children.

Peace is Every Step feels that spanking does not teach children how to be mindful of their actions and practice self control, and is disrespectful to the child.

The Daily Rhythm feels that spanking does nothing but create fear and mistrust between parent and child, and does not teach the child how to effectively deal with their emotions but only how to bottle them up inside.

This is one of those issues where there isn't really a gray usually do or you don't! It wasn't my intention to offend anyone, but that is often hard to do on such emotional subjects like this.
Now...I get to tag some people for such an interesting topic! I choose Lisa, Jen and Chris to take on this subject....I look forward to hearing what you have to say on it!

Here are the rules:

The rules:

1. Post about the topic.

2. Give me the linky love

3. Copy the last paragraph above and add your name and discipline style.

4. Post that paragraph onto your blog, including links.

5. Go to the people you have tagged and leave them a comment to know they are now, it.

6. Sit back and let the comments roll in.


Peace is every step said...

Well said! I love the "can you rephrase that". I could use that on myself quite often! I whole heartidly agree with your post-the more I think about it, the more absurd spanking seems to me & the more disrespectful it seems. We would never spank a friend, a sister, our partner, a family member--why is it okay for a child?

Julie B said...

I agree...the more I thought about it, the more emotional it became for me. Thanks for the feedback :)

Mama Zen said...

This is an outstanding post!

At my house, we use "how do we talk to Mama / Daddy . . ."

I'm so with you about the Target story. I've never understood the logic behind "teaching" a child not to hit by smacking him a couple of times!

girlymom said...

This is a well written post. You just said all the things I have been trying to say to my mom. I just had a very large arguement with my 6 year old this week. When my mom called I was still upset over it emotionally and my mom proceeded to tell me how she would "fix" it. Oh and of course I don't HAVE to listen to her, but it worked for her. She would spank us "if needed" I remember that fear. When I had my first daughter, I still had it in my mind that this was how you were "supposed" to discipline. I spanked my daughter and I hated it. I hated the look on her face, I hated the confusion it caused, I hated the mistrust, I hated everything about it. I didn't know what else to do, so I started reading about different discipline techniques. We don't spank anymore. We don't threaten to spank, there is no hitting. My mom doesn't understand this, she thinks I am being soft, too patient, letting them get away with things. I have gotten much stronger at standing up for my parenting style and just tell her that she had her chance. I might feel like I am loosing the battle sometimes, but in the end my children are not afraid of me, they talk to me, they tell me their deep secrets, and you know what...they behave, not because I hit them but because it is the right thing to do. I have 4 girls, I don't want to loose them now or in the teenage years. Thank you so much for this post, this has actually been a troublesome conversation for me this week and it was nice to read someone else who has the same feelings.
I am new here and will definately be back.

Jen said...

Excellent and articulate post! I definitely agree. Thanks for tagging me on this topic... certainly an emotional one. We are NOT spankers around here either. Not sure when/if I'll manage to post on it, but I'll do my best ;-)