To get really uncomfortable around a friend when she smacks her children...

(236 Posts)
Toowittoowoo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:23:38

....and other harsh (in my view) disciplining?

I know it is none of my business how somebody else disciplines their DCs but they are all under 3 and they are so lovely. I also don't always understand why they are smacked - seems like trivial things to me. I just can't see my friend in the same way as I used to if she is capable of treating her children like that.

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 12-Feb-13 13:17:34

DreamingofMaldives; regarding discipline (learning) for a 2 year old. As far as I can remember, sometimes I did have to cut a pleasant time short by removing my child and leaving.
If leaving is something they don't want to do,( e.g if you are at a playground) then they learn quite quickly, even at 2, that their behaviour has consequences. Better to leave and suffer once or twice than suffer every tine you go anywhere.

I did do time-out, especially for hitting/throwing things/ wilful bad behaviour.
If he hit, I would put him immediately in his cot and leave him for a couple of minutes. Just instant removal-no negotiations or warnings. That absolutely worked, because it was dead simple and he got the message that the behaviour was just not going to be tolerated.

I think that's the key with toddlers-simplicity. Not too much talking, no need for shouting, just "no" and swift retribution.

Also "no" has to MEAN "no". Every time. NEVER say "no" to anything your child asks you for if you are planning on caving in to nagging/whining.
It's good to give a reason why the answer is "no" but it's not negotiable.

And positive reinforcement works wonders too. Sometimes it's really easy to forget that, but every time I have a renewed attempt at it I am amazed how much better me and ds get along.

NopeStillNothing Tue 12-Feb-13 13:14:56

necessarily even

NopeStillNothing Tue 12-Feb-13 13:13:49

Toddlers are a bit of a law unto themselves really and should definately not be viewed and treated the same as an older child. Consequences and Punishments are a bit wasted on them as their sense of reason is still not quite cooked yet.

Distraction, consistency and example are definately the best ways to "teach" them. The aim is to stop the unwanted behaviour, not necessary to make them regret misbehaving IYSWIM

BlueberryHill Tue 12-Feb-13 12:54:13

I agree with cory and georgedawes, a lot of managing behaviour is thinking ahead and taking action so that you don't have any misbehaviour to deal with. If we think that something is too much for the children, e.g. a long meal in a quiet restaurant, we just don't go, we have three small children and it can be too much hard work for us to enjoy ourselves. We do go out to eat, but we pick busy restaurants with a lot happening and that can help them be entertained. Sometimes no matter what you do it is hard work for that particular outing, in that case eat quickly and go.

If they are being naughty at home, I can remove something, say no and keep repeating (they are young so they are learning at this stage). I try to avoid issues where I can by planning ahead but if I can't or it there is nothing I could have done to avoid it I tackle it head on, pick your battle but once you do, be consistent and follow through. I tend to ignore tantrums, mainly because another child needs my attention plus I don't want to encourage them by reacting to them.

georgedawes Tue 12-Feb-13 12:27:05

Definitely agree with what Cory said.

cory Tue 12-Feb-13 12:00:46

Having read GeorgeDawes' post I want to emend mine to a kind of combo of mine and hers.

Basically, I think sometimes you do have to, or you really want to, do things that are tricky given your child's developmental stage. But a big part of the trick is knowing that you are doing something extra difficult so you will have to work extra hard for that one occasion. Doesn't mean every aspect of toddler minding is equally hard work.

I didn't have to spend every day of my life being some kind of entertainment committee for dc: a lot of the time, they were happy to be pottering around next to me and do their own thing.

But when I did something extraordinary, like took dd on the train to Berlin, or for a meal in a restaurant, then I knew it was an extra and would need an extra input, so I wasn't surprised or frustrated when that proved true.

Some of those things became automatic. Dc and I travelled a lot on public transport, and I used to start telling a story just before the bus pulled up, to make sure I had their attention hooked before they got on the bus and could get bored. If we went into a pet shop I would stop on the pavement outside and just remind them of what pets like and what they don't like. I went into an aquatics shop the other day and I almost stopped on the pavement to remind myself that fish don't like it when you knock on the glass.

NopeStillNothing Tue 12-Feb-13 11:47:30

Very well put Cory

georgedawes Tue 12-Feb-13 11:40:56

Dreaming, for me part of it is about understanding the developmental age of your child. For instance, that 2 year old you were talking about sounded just too young, developmentally, to cope with being in a busy cafe. Of course there are things you can do to try and distract them - crayons, toys, talking to them and so on, but for some young toddlers they're going to really struggle to sit still in that kind of situation. As a parent of a toddler, you have to pick your battles and perhaps avoid restaurants til they're a little older (not all people have to do this!).

cory Tue 12-Feb-13 11:37:23

Sometimes you can remove the toddler temporarily, Dreaming- and if there are two of you, the parents can take it in turns. Or you can just restrain them.

It depends on the kind of naughtiness.

First of all, you would be anticipating the situation and planning for it. e.g. "We are going to be meeting DM in a restaurant, how do I cope with that?"

You might ask for a more child friendly venue, or you might simply bring lots of things to keep toddler entertained. You would probably have to expect at least one person to spend a fair bit of time talking to toddler. But why not? They're quite interesting. And DM might also like talking to toddler.

Secondly, naughty behaviour occurs. The question here is "What kind of naughty behaviour? How do I stop it?"

If toddler is trying to throw her glass, remove the glass. If she is trying to run around, sit her on your lap and distract her with a story or joke. If she goes into total meltdown, take it in turns to walk her outside until she calms down and is fit for human society again. (they do calm down eventually).

DreamingOfTheMaldives Tue 12-Feb-13 11:27:08

Thanks for the link Twofingers and for your post Cory

DreamingOfTheMaldives Tue 12-Feb-13 11:25:00

Blueberry, your post does answer my question in relation to older children but I am still quite stumped by toddlers. Surely there are occasions when removing the toddler from the scene isn't feasible - if you are out with family or friends, particularly if you haven't seen them for a while, you aren't going to want to leave because your toddler has done something naughty. Or if the toddler is being naught at home etc

Flatbread Tue 12-Feb-13 10:57:51

For a six year old it is ok to have consequences that happen later, e.g., earlier bedtime.

For a one/two year old, that is pointless. The action and consequence have to be immediate, swift and not drawn out. A warning, followed by a tap on the bum or hand is fine. It is not traumatic for the child or parent. It is a simple way of communicating, 'hey, you are crossing a boundary' in a way a toddler understands.

Accepting parental authority is not the same as being scared of your parents. I think there is too much of wishy-washy nonsense of negotiating all the time. I think that is very disconcerting for toddlers who are just trying to explore their boundaries

When a child becomes 5-6, they should never be smacked. They are too old and other consequences, such as blueberry's early bedtime will work.

cory Tue 12-Feb-13 10:50:57

DreamingOfTheMaldives Tue 12-Feb-13 08:38:39

"What I do find interesting is that the majority of you who are very quick to criticise other parents who use smacking as a form of discipline, remain quite silent on your own methods for disciplining your children. If you think that smacking is wrong and your way is superior then perhaps you should provide some detail as to what it is and how successful."

This is a reasonable question imo and deserves an answer. I think one reason it doesn't always get one is because parents who don't smack don't necessarily have one single stock punishment.

This is my experience of growing up in a non smacking but well disciplined household (and I do hope my children would be able to say something similar):

My parents were quite proactive about keeping me safe. A lot of the time they didn't have to punish me for doing dangerous things, because they had already made sure I couldn't. Dangerous substances were put away in a high place, knives were in a top drawer, the kitchen was fenced off with a stairgate, somebody kept an eye on me in places that couldn't be made safe. When we went outside, I wore reins or held hands when I was too little to be trusted. If I had been trusted and misbehaved, that was back to the reins.

They were also proactive about boredom. They got me used to enjoying conversations from a very early age, so that they could keep me entertained in cafes etc, and if they took me out they would see that as their job. (I myself once read stories to dd all the way from Calais to Berlin on the train; dh used to make up his own stories for them. But you need to train children to enjoy stories).

They reacted instantly if I was doing something I shouldn't. When I was little, they would remove me calmly but firmly from where I shouldn't be, take the toy or item I shouldn't have away from me, put the coat on that I didn't want to wear etc. f I hit another child, I was taken home from the party instantly.

They rarely lost their temper- but they didn't give in either! Eventually, I learned that there wasn't much point in struggling because they tended to get their way.

They had perfected the headmistress look and the brisk unflappable headmistress tone of voice.

If I got out of control (tantrum), I would be put in time out, but this wasn't happening every day.

As I got older, there were consequences: not allowed out the next day if I had overstayed my curfew etc.

But they also spent a lot of time in conversation with me and talked to me as a sensible human being. Whenever the punishment was over, we would revert to that. They never held grudges.

As I grew older, I needed fewer and fewer consequences because I had got to respect them and wanted their approval.

BlueberryHill Tue 12-Feb-13 10:48:50

Dreaming, does my last post answer your question? My punishments are personal to each child, whatever they like / want is a privilege, if they don't behave correctly we take that away for a set period. We have taken them home from playgrounds, days out etc if they haven't behaved. We haven't had to do this for ages as DS understands the consequences. He knows that we have a line and if he crosses it, there is a consequence, we are consistent with that and follow through. I don't always ignore bad behaviour, it depends what it is and why they are doing it and that depends on the individual child.

DTs are at a different stage in their development but they understand 'no' and are just starting to understand that things will be taken away if they don't behave.

QuickLookBusy Tue 12-Feb-13 10:42:00

TwoFingers thanks for that link, it's great that it has real examples of what to do in common situations.

I think every parent should be given that info during pregnancy.

BlueberryHill Tue 12-Feb-13 10:41:33

Dreaming, your friends child shouldn't be doing that in a cafe, I think that children should be taught to behave well in cafes. In that situation we have books, crayons etc that we take in, we don't let them walk around annoying other people. Distraction is a good way to stop bad behaviour, we take them to watch pizzas being made etc, but we don't get in the way. Bottom line though, if they don't behave we take them out, they are warned and then the punishment is carried through.

I'm not perfect in my parenting, but DH and I consider what we do, change the approach if it isn't working or as children grow up. My DCs, I have 2 yo twins and a 6 yo, so far are turning out OK, they know that there are boundaries, warned about crossing them and have punishments if they ignore those boundaries. The punishments for DS1 (6 yo) include 5 mins going to bed earlier for each thing, no TV etc, He isn't badly behaved, the main problem is tuning out and playing with his toys instead of geting dressed, he is really good. They work with him because he doesn't want to go to bed at the same time as the 'babies' and wants to watch Power Rangers.

I wouldn't get too wound up about it, its not that difficult, pick your battles, praise is really good at getting to do what you want them to do. If it isn't working think again and keep your cool. I don't always manage the last one but I really try to.,

DreamingOfTheMaldives Tue 12-Feb-13 10:39:59

Blueberry - I have accepted that ignoring bad behaviour can work and agree that it would be the right thing to do when it is attention seeking but CONTINUALLY ignoring naughty behaviour (which isn't dangerous or hurting someone) surely cannot be right. I just don't see it.

You say that positive discipline doesn't mean that there aren't consequences for negative behaviour but again you do not explain what those are. Those people who condone smacking make it clear (in their posts) what they are but the anti smackers do not.

NopeStillNothing Tue 12-Feb-13 10:39:57

Yes I can see what you are trying to say now and believe it or not, I actually have a very similar view blush

Don't sweat it, No-one (nomatter how smug) has all the answers, just accept the fact that you will try your best,you will probably fuck up a fair few times but tomorrow you can start all over again. grin

cory Tue 12-Feb-13 10:31:52

My eldest is 16, so probably more smacking around when they are little. I didn't like it at the time, but was friends with some women who did it.

In retrospect I would say the dividing line between children who grew up well behaved and children who didn't was not perhaps so much between parents who smacked very occasionally and parents who never smacked: it was more between parents who had a quietly authoritative approach and parents who were inconsistent, shouty and with negative expectations of their children.

(Unsurprisingly, the girl who at the age of 11 was described as a nymphomaniac by her mother (not a friend of mine) was pregnant 5 years later. According to dd, there was nothing in it when they were 11- but of course there is nothing like a self fulfilling prophecy.)

Can't say I ever felt less capable of maintaining discipline because I didn't smack. Couldn't see the point tbh, and as the results in our local community seem to suggest that the children of sensible calm authoritative parents grew up just as well behaved anyway, I still don't see the point.

My family have got by without it for generations. I'd feel a bit pathetic if I was the first family member since the year 1900 who couldn't keep my own children under control without it.

DreamingOfTheMaldives Tue 12-Feb-13 10:30:40

My post wasn't intended to be a scathing view of anti smackers, more a slightly scathing view of people on this thread who seem very quick to judge those who use smacking, without making any suggestion of how their way of parenting is more effective. Some of those same people also criticise the use of time outs as well. It's very easy to be critical and judge while remaining silent on your own 'better' ways of parenting.

I guess I am left with my mind boggling at what on earth I am going to do with a toddler who won't behave him/herself, causes chaos and drives me to distraction. I think the realisation that I am going to become a parent in a few months has hit and I am panicking about EVERYTHING child related, from baby stage onwards! anyone got a paper bag for me to breathe into

I was out with a friend a few months ago and her almost 2 year old. We were sat in a cafe which was empty when we arrived. My friend allowed her daughter to get out every book the cafe had and spread them around, to pour salt all over another table and as the cafe filled up, to go and stand behind (and clearly irritate) the people at another table. I tried to engage the girl by talking to her and getting a book to look at with her or one of her toys but this didn't work and I didn't feel it appropriate to do any more than that when my friend did nothing.

All I remember thinking is that surely there is a way to prevent that kind of behaviour, but not having children really having no idea if it was or how. It wasn't a case of the child getting bored after sitting down for a while, it was from the moment we got into the cafe.

I didn't intend to come across as 'they took away our right to smack an left no alternative' because I know that the right to smack hasn't been taken away. The law allows it in the UK. I say this not because I agree with it or otherwise but as a matter of fact.

I really am neither pro or anti smacking. I probably will fall into the no smacking camp when the time comes because I do not even smack my dog because it just wouldn't feel right so i cant imagine it would feel right with a child. My husband once smacked our dog when he had run off in the park and couldn't find him. When he finally found him after my DH had been panicking, my husband smacked him out of panicking and relief. He then spent the rest of the week feeling awful and guilty that he had done it!

BlueberryHill Tue 12-Feb-13 10:23:50

Dreaming, my discipline varies according to the child and the situation. My children have clear rules and we parent consistently. I don't smack however because I think that it is morally wrong and because how can I discipline my children if I do not have self discipline. How is hitting a child because they have hit another child supposed to show them what is right or wrong. No one who smacks has yet had an adequate answer to this one.

So in some instances, ignoring bad behaviour works, especially if the behaviour is trying to gain your attention. Obviously if the child is doing something dangerous or hurting another child, e.g. hitting etc you don't ignore it, but to say it is ludicrous shows a lack of experience, in the right time and place it is an appropriate response.

Positive enforcement is great as well, children respond really well to praise, it doesn't mean that there aren't consequences if they behave badly though.

sheeplikessleep Tue 12-Feb-13 10:15:52

OP, YANBU. Being around another mum who smacks their child would make me uncomfortable too.

I can sort of understand it if it is more really dangerous behaviour, like running off into a road, as an occasional one-off tactic (not that I could ever do it).

But for being 'naughty' would upset me to see it. Even strangers in public who I see smacking, it really leaves a sour taste.

Plus, as others have said, there's no way I could give a rational and plausible argument to my own children, if they questioned it.

twofingerstoGideon Tue 12-Feb-13 10:10:51

Maldives
This was more or less what I did:
disciplining toddlers

I do need to comment on this, though: ...label someone as abusive (when parliament has already decided that they are not)
Just because the UK parliament still hasn't outlawed smacking, doesn't make it acceptable. Many other governments have outlawed it. But perhaps those countries' MPs didn't grow up in an Etonian-style culture where fagging and beating are the norm.

NopeStillNothing Tue 12-Feb-13 10:03:12

Apologies, the hmm face probably confused matters.

What I was trying to convey was the fact that even though you are claiming to be neutral, your post just comes across as the "They took away our right to smack and left no alternative" way of thinking. Sorry if that is not the case but it was a rather scathing view of anti-smackers.
Like I said, there are many different techniques suggested in many different articles and the reason that most concentrate on only positive reinforcement is because consequences and punishment is not really something a toddler can comprehend well. Usually a stern "No" and removing them from the situation will suffice until they are old enough to understand time outs/removal of toys etc.

DreamingOfTheMaldives Tue 12-Feb-13 09:34:43

What's with the sceptical face NopeStill?!
I have read one or two articles on parenting websites about how to discipline toddlers. What exactly do you find so hard to believe about that?! I never suggested I had spent hours researching the issue, did I.

What i have found is that they seem to refer to positive reinforcement but don't seem to refer to consequences for negative behaviour. Yes I appreciate that ignoring bad behaviour works to an extent but surely there comes a point when there has to consequences for doing something that the child is not meant to do?

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