I never wanted my children to respect me because I am bigger than them and I can make them feel pain. I didn’t ever want them to see me as a bully. Growing up, I swore to myself that when I became a mother I would have unconditional empathy for my children. I would never forget how it felt to be a child and get “the look” from my mother or how unjust it felt every time a belt struck my backside.
Having been a mother for going on six years now, I must admit that I see why some parents decide to use spanking as a method of getting their children to behave appropriately. In the end I don’t think that inflicting pain on someone smaller and weaker than me will have the positive outcome I’m seeking, but in the moment it would certainly bring about proper behavior through a physical release.
I’d be afraid to spank my children. I wouldn’t want to hurt them and I already hate it when they cry. If I have the urge to use corporal punishment I am already pushed past my limit of self-control and I can only imagine what could unfold were I holding a weapon. I wouldn’t chance it. I will not spank.
Amara, my oldest daughter, really thrives on negative attention. It’s extremely difficult at times to not give in, but the more I keep my cool, the more she realizes that making good choices gets her the response she’s truly looking for. Dealing with her negative behavior is the hardest to handle at bedtime; she and her sister share a room so Amara will be purposely disruptive. She’ll jump on her bed, say “Mama!” repeatedly in a loud, comical tone, get down from her bed and bounce a ball, call over to Terra to ask her questions like, “Are you asleep yet, Terra?! Terra!?”
When this happens I feel I have no other option but to move Terra to my bed so that she doesn’t have to be accosted. Though it’s unfair to make Terra leave the comfort of her own bed, the girls see my bed as a sanctuary, and the point I’m trying to get across to Amara is that if she’d behave herself she wouldn’t have to sleep in her room alone. I hate these power struggles.
If I ask Amara to sit on her bed and use her calming methods (blowing out pretend candles -I light real ones for the major tantrums, using “buzz breath”, scribbling on a pad of paper, screaming into a pillow, etc) she’ll typically refuse and then follow me around the house making odd noises. She follows me so closely that if I stop abruptly she rams my body. I know that she wants me to scold her, so I say nothing.
I know that she wants me to hug her, but I cannot bring myself to giving her a hug while she’s being utterly disrespectful. I’m working on hugging her when I’m upset by her behavior, but it’s very hard for me to give a genuine hug when I’m repulsed by her actions. Also, at this point I’d have already offered her a hug, and possibly have given one, to deescalate the situation when I saw it starting, but she sometimes takes that as a cue to move ahead with more bad choices.
I want her to know that I love her unconditionally. That even when I want to slap her across the face to make her stop yapping and to just think about her actions for a moment, I still love her. I want so badly for her to realize the consequences of her actions because I love her. I would not try so hard to teach her things if I didn’t care.
But I will not give in to her pleas for negative attention. I refuse to lose my cool when she’s purposely playing me. I will practice what I preach and lead by example. We do not hit people. We do not bully people. When we are angry we do not scream or break things. When we feel bad we have ways to positively deal with things. If we need to take a minute to calm down before confronting someone about something we should find that peace. We should strive to show empathy.
I didn’t know much about handling my emotions before I had children. I was so used to being intimidated and not being validated that I didn’t know how to express myself, especially when faced with something that angered me. It is difficult to teach my children how to deal with their emotions at the same time as I am learning, but it is so rewarding to know that I am providing them with a strong foundation for self-control.This basis will help them to understand more about themselves and have positive relationships with others in the future.
Being loving, staying calm, and providing children with ample methods for handling BIG feelings is time-consuming. Much more so than spanking them. However, I believe that the benefits of teaching children to take responsibility for their actions instead of stripping them of their power will lead to well-adjusted, confident, mentally-stable young adults.