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.