Smacks of Shame

June 23, 2012

When D Man is trying to work something out, sometimes he gets really frustrated and that makes him angry (I’d like to think he gets it from his Dad but this post may lead you believe otherwise). This can result in him throwing whatever he’s playing with, crying or yelling, and sometimes he hits himself in the head (I know, right?). When I see this happening I gently say to him –

Be cool, Bubba. Take a deep breath and work it out. Don’t lose your cool because you can’t think straight.

The other day we were in the parking lot and I was trying to get him strapped into his seat. KiKi was crying in her seat and wanted to be fed. We were only five minutes from home and I was trying to get us all home quickly. D Man didn’t want me to do up his seat belt and he was really pushing my buttons. I asked nicely, but he continued. I spoke firmly, still he pushed my hands and kicked out at me, whining and fussing. I didn’t keep my cool.
Not at all. In fact, I smacked him. I slapped him on the leg hard enough that it would have stung like a bitch. He was first shocked and then confused, and then his little face creased up and he bawled, and bawled.
I felt so bad. Simply awful. How could I, the person who has vowed to protect this little person, wilfully hurt my baby?

I apologised for not keeping my cool, and for smacking him. I kissed his tears and I told him that mummy was trying to get home quickly and he was making it difficult for me and it made me cross.
He cried all the way home.
I felt terrible. I don’t want to be that mum, that cannot reason or keep calm and resorts to lashing out. The guilt and shame I felt was awful.

Before I had kids I was fairly ambivalent on the smacking issue. I generally thought that if a child was being naughty then a little slap was ok. Open hand, on the legs or the back of the hand – it’s not a biggie. I was raised with a slap here and there, on the back of the legs. My brother was raised with considerably more slaps but that’s because he wasn’t as wily as me when it came to being naughty.
Our parents’  generation was raised with serious corporal punishment as it was still ok in schools in those days, and apparently those old nuns and brothers were quite evil and very fast to take out their frustrations on little bottoms or hands. By the time I hit school only the principal could dole out six of the best and that was a pretty rare thing, and from memory, this was abolished by the time I was in high school. Obviously, the cane is a far cry from a slap on the knee, but the concept is the same.
Teaching children right from wrong using force, rather than smarts.
Some people would argue that the ‘system’ has gone too far now and we coddle our children. “I was smacked into submission, and I turned out ok”….but times have changed. Not least because your kid can now set DOCS on you, sue you and divorce you, but because we live in a more emotionally aware age.

I have smacked D Man once or twice before. The first time I did I vowed not to do it again, as it hurt my heart more than it hurt him and I don’t think it truly made that much of a difference. He’s a toddler and he’s pushing boundaries to learn where he fits and what he can get away with.
But I did do it again.
How can I teach my child that violence is not the answer if I myself resort to it in frustration?
How will my child learn that it’s not ok to hit other children in the playground if he get’s smacked at home?

I’m finding my patience is thinner than ever right now, what with the lack of sleep and not enough arms to stay on top of everything, so now is the time that I really need to dig deep, more than ever I need to just say to myself-

Be cool, Mama. Take a deep breath and work it out. Don’t lose your cool because you can’t think straight.

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  • Reply Scott June 23, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Too much reading into the smacking thing Danielle me thinks! I have smacked Stella a few times now which is not much in nearly 7 years but when they will not listen to reason, and really want to test your resolve it can become a mine field…… are doing ok and Dex i bet hugs you just as much now as he did before xx Being naughty at home and getting a smack should not lead to hitting out at school unless he dosen’t understand why he got punished at first! PS smacks from me these days are like firm pats, I caught Stella by surprise with a very lite one weeks ago and she cried from fright, yes fright, never hurt her in my lifetime but i will not have her acting out for stupid reasons ( or going to a friends house up the street without letting me know after being warned at least a dozen times)) if you catch my drift! Hope you are well you and yours x

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys June 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

      It is indeed a mine field, Scott. Thanks a lot for the comment. Of course, I realise that Dex will not be traumatised for life, it just made me feel bad.
      It got me to thinking, and I like to share what I’m thinking. Guess it got you thinking too. Perfect! 😉

      • Reply Scott June 23, 2012 at 9:06 am

        Of course you (and I ) are doing fine, sheesh when i got in trouble my feet never touched the floor………………….still i never want that for our kids. Stella gets told to go to her room , which she does on her own sometimes LOL, but when she’s calmed down i usually get a hug that is so warm. I know we can be cranky but we have to be x x x

  • Reply tdblue June 24, 2012 at 1:57 am

    You’ll be okay, Momma. None of us are perfect. I definitely feel for you because I’ve been there, and I agree – everytime I’ve swat my son, it didn’t help matters. If anything, it made things worse, and I felt terrible. Fortunately, our kids our much better at forgiving us than we are at forgiving ourselves.

  • Reply Sleeping Should Be Easy June 25, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I haven’t smacked my kid but as of last night I just yelled at him when I vowed never to do so again. So much for resolve. I think when the situation is so difficult, it’s hard to parent and instead react. At least that’s what I did. I literally had no control for that second and for me that was what was scary. It was so reactive, and the worst part is that yelling or smacking doesn’t make the situation any better.

    Hang in there! We all go through it. I seriously thought I was the most abusive parent after I yelled at him but I just have to learn and try to improve.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys June 25, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      you know, when I thought about it further, I wondered if I would have felt better if I’d meant to do it, rather than reacted …’s certainly interesting.
      It is a tough gig, and some days are tougher than others……don’t feel bad about yelling. Hell, if yelling is a bad as it gets, you’re doing a sterling job!

  • Reply How can we improve Sleeping Should Be Easy? | sleeping should be easy July 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    […] Keeping Up with the Holsbys discusses an honest topic on smacking kids and the ensuing feelings. […]

  • Reply seventhacreheaven July 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Wandered here from SSBE…and am so glad I did. This just happened here too…3 year old being uncooperative, baby crying, mama loses her cool. How I wish I could go back to that peaceful and patient love I had for him before. Not entirely sure before what, though. Before the current age, before having a second child….I am determined to not smack again but with the situation being fairly common right now (crying baby and uncooperative child), I’m not sure if my determination is all I need! Thanks for writing about this difficult topic.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      You know, there will be days (i.e. today for me!!!!) where you think you’ll lose your mind, and then there will be days (hopefully tomorrow for me!!!) where you’ll be fit to bust with love.
      Rolling with the punches, mama…..I smacked him again today!! On his hand. Same story……. man, oh man. May the non-force be with you 😉

      • Reply seventhacreheaven July 8, 2012 at 4:13 am

        I have been desperately reading others’ parenting experiences and it has been helping keep perspective. We’ve had a couple situations today in which I could have lost it but laughed instead. Whew.

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