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Those of you who never smack their children - tell me your tips for keeping it together

(89 Posts)
Whirliwig72 Fri 13-Jul-12 13:38:11

Ok so I'm laying myself open here so be gentle please. I never intended to smack my children but I since the arrival of ds2 I find myself lashing out on a regular basis at ds1 when he hurts or bullies the little one. I'm totally aware that I'm being a ridiculous hypocrite saying 'don't you dare hit your brother' while simultaneously snaking him on the bum but my reaction when it happens is so split second it feels like before I can think it through I've done it. We do 1 2 3 magic but it hasn't solved the problem. The issue I think is not so much ds1's behaviour but my anger management issues. I want to stop smacking but I'm terrified of asking for help in RL as its so taboo and I don't know what kind of reaction I'd get.

KateShmate Fri 13-Jul-12 14:07:57

Sounds strange, but as you've said that your 'anger shoots up out of nowhere' could you set up a video camera in the room you are all in most?
I've heard so many people on here say, when other are finding it hard to control their anger, to pretend that someone is watching or there is a camera. So why not set a camera up and then re-watch it?
If you see yourself getting really angry, it might make you realize what you're doing wrong/what you could change etc, but at the same time having that feeling that you're being 'watched' may help to break the cycle of snapping and then smacking.

Also, have you ever shown your DS1 how to be nice to DS2? I found that I was constantly telling my DD1 off for hurting baby sister, but that she didn't really know what she was doing wrong because I hadn't shown her. Sorry if that sounds silly, but I found it really helped DD1, especially when she was 'stroking' DD2 (but actually hurting her) I would take DD1's hand and show what what 'stroking' actually was.

coffeeandcake Fri 13-Jul-12 14:08:29

i often feel the same as you, whirl, only my dcs are older. a couple of tips that i've got off other threads are these:

imaging that you're being filmed, and someone you respect is watching (that works when you want to shout, as well!)

counting things in the room - one sofa, two tv, three rug etc.

i agree with spoken nerd, it is all about recognising that red haze moment and choosing to do something else. not easy, but i am slowly getting better ar doing this.

Idreamof Fri 13-Jul-12 14:12:06

Try: making eye contact, say " No, we don't do this" very firmly to DS1, and take him out of the room to be on his own for 3/4 minutes. When you allow him back in or go and get him, say again, we don't do this and ask him if he agrees/ understand. Then praise him when he does well; well done DS1, you're playing very nicely.
Repeat as needed.

Whirliwig72 Fri 13-Jul-12 14:22:29

The camera idea is genius - I think I'll imagine I'm a participant on Super Nanny! Thank you so much guys! My boys thank you too wink

One of the things that upsets me most is the thought of my boys smacking their own children down the line cos I normalised it for them. sad

wanttomakeadifference Fri 13-Jul-12 14:22:59

Having been on the wrong end of a mother who smacked and hit often and hard, I have made a choice not to smack my DC. I think that the awful memories I have mean that even when I'm really angry I don't even think of smacking.

I'm not criticising you OP, it's great that you've asked for help and many parents smack their children and are OK about it- it's just not for me......

I wonder if taking some time to think about how it might affect your son if you don't get this sorted might help? I realise this might make you feel a bit guilty, which is a shame as you should feel proud of yourself for trying to stop.

I guess I'm trying to say that you might be more motivated not to smack in the heat of the moment if you were aware of the possible knock on effects if this escalates into a bigger issue.

I'm happy to explain how having a mother who smacked me a lot affected me if it helps, but I'm not sure it's appropriate as I don't want to upset you any further smile.

SardineQueen Fri 13-Jul-12 14:24:29

I have come close.

I can identify when I am getting wound up though, and have learnt to take action when I start feeling that frustration welling up inside me.

When I start feeling that way I do various things. Take myself away from it. If one has done something, they have to go in their room for a min or two. Put them in the garden. Put the telly on and hypnotise them with it. Offer them a drink. Stomp off and have a swear. Anything really. Just to stop the direction things are going and change it to a different direction.

The ADs have helped as well blush

Whirliwig72 Fri 13-Jul-12 14:25:17

Oh and another thing that really worries me is that ds1 has started smacking me back and I hate being around him wondering if he's about to clobber me one sad

Losingitall Fri 13-Jul-12 14:28:10

I too smacked me children (well tapped) them infrequently when they were younger.

It was the realisation that it didn't actually work and didn't solve anything.

I don't think it's automatically wrong to smack your children but I'd guess like with mine it doesn't achieve anything positive and makes you feel like a shit Mum (like it did with me)

Sparklingbrook Fri 13-Jul-12 14:28:51

Well I didn't smack. But one day I had to carry DS1 (he was about 2) out of the local garden centre under my arm and he smacked me full on in the face. confused

He was having the mother of all tantrums. Then he did that straight back thing and falling into the footwell when I was strapping him into his car seat.

There was much gritting of teeth and counting to ten.

Whirliwig72 Fri 13-Jul-12 14:29:39

Please share if you can bear to Wantto - I need some hard cold reality to ensure I change my ways.

Whirliwig72 Fri 13-Jul-12 14:34:17

Wow sparkling that's some control of yourself you've got there. Ds1 butted me in the nose once by accident and made me cry! I think that shocked him more than any smack. He was the most upset I've ever seen him sad

wanttomakeadifference Fri 13-Jul-12 14:41:37

It started with the odd smack, became frequent smacks and escalated to full on beatings.

I became scared of my own mum, petrified of putting a foot wrong, withdrawn and frightened around her.

The very worst thing was witnessing my own mum loose control- for me there was something very very disturbing about seeing the person who I should rely on the most, bring unable to control herself. I felt that I couldn't rely on her to take care of me if she couldn't control herself for me. I couldn't trust her.

I decided my mum didn't love me.

I still cant trust or forgive my mum. I do love her but the closeness is gone. No amount of good parenting inbetween the smacks could or can take away how she made me feel.

bbface Fri 13-Jul-12 14:42:31

It is odd, because I never thought I would smack, but my boy seems to respond well to it. Pls read on before you get your flaming spears out! For example, the other day in the doc surgery, he was having a tantrum, refusing to come with me to change his nappy. I scooped him up and off we went to the toilets. Inside the toilet, I quietly went about getting the bits ready, he was working himself up not a frenzy. I started talking to him In a calm voice, which nine times out of ten, works, but he was beyond listening. I got down to his level, raised my voice, spoke very curtly to him that this was ENOUGH now, and I tapped the back of his legs. He looked shocked, then cried for a few secs, then pointed to his leg. I asked him if he was Going to calm down, we had a cuddle then I changed his nappy whilst he played with his toy motorbike. We then had another snuggle and then we were off. When we returned to the waiting room, i had a happy boy. The firm voice and the tap seemed to snap him out of it. He actually seemed relieved that I had taken control from him.

I Am not suggesting smacking is a solution, certainly not when the issue is your ds is being aggressive, but for me and my son, in certain instances, it does seem to snap him out of really playing up and literally within seconds he is calm, happy and preoccupied with something else.

You have been wonderfully brave posting, and show yourself to be a great mum that you are concerned and striving to be better. Xx

hellymelly Fri 13-Jul-12 14:45:21

I also had a mother who smacked a lot, and I think it really damaged my relationship with her.I was scared of her and never felt I could get close. Having said that, I did once smack my smaller dd, (5) because I was at my wits end with her (threatening to go out of the door onto the road, but throwing shoes etc at me when I tried to stop her). She was really upset, I was even more upset. And I once gave a swift single slap on the leg to my older child for similar behaviour. I felt very upset with myself each time, and I did talk it through with the child later. I really really don't want to smack and I think in my case there are two issues- As I was smacked such a lot, even though i hated it, it is all rather normal for me, and also quite a few of my friends smacked their children (rarely, but it did happen, I am 48 so most of my friends had small children when smacking was rather more common than now). And the other thing is really running out of ways to tackle something. I usually walk away, but in the case above it wasn't an option as she was right by the door and might have run out. I think sometimes people do reach their limit- I try and not get to that , I walk out, I even DH to take over if I can and walk round the block, I make some sugary tea and try and calm down before tackling it again. It is hard, I sympathise. The red mist descends, and it is difficult not to react to it. I find I can do calm for about half an hour and if a tantrum goes on longer than that I start to feel rather deranged. I try and take steps before I reach that point now, rather than getting more and more angry.

TobyLerone Fri 13-Jul-12 14:55:04

My mother hit me a lot.

We get on brilliantly now, but I distinctly remember my feelings whenever she did it. From a very early age it made me resent her (only while it was happening, mind), and I vividly remember thinking that she ought to learn to control herself better. Honestly, even at maybe 5 I realised that it was more about her than me.

It made me lose respect for her, and I was never afraid of her. It never stopped me doing the things I got hit for.

I don't think it has damaged our relationship as adults, but I did leave home at 17. The only thing I resent her for is her very different recollection of our childhood. My siblings and I all agree that her version is not the same as ours.

I made a conscious decision not to smack my children, and the main reason was because it just doesn't work as a punishment.

Dahlen Fri 13-Jul-12 14:57:07

I agree with the poster who said something about finding that moment where you make a choice to smack. When mine were really small I had a similar thing with shouting, which I really hated because I never thought I'd be a shouty mum. It took me a while and a lot of soul searching to find the bit in my head that was subconsciously telling me "ok they've really overstepped the mark now, no one would blame you if you yelled at them", but once I did, I found it a lot easier to choose a different reaction.

It does get easier in some ways as they get older and you can reason with them more. You also become more familiar with their behaviour and learn where to step in before things escalate to the point where something will cause you to lose it.

I do still shout from time to time wink

genug Fri 13-Jul-12 14:58:24

I think it is also a lot to do with the temperaments of both parties. My parents never smacked us, really unheard of in those days, we are in our 50/60s now. DM had a titanium will impenetrably clothed in a gentle manner and endless patience, and had a way of talking us round. DF did run into issuing very loud instructions quite quickly, but would never be angry for long.

Strangely the results of a relatively liberal approach range from a [very old] child who remains adamant they were unloved/ neglected, to some pretty devoted ones. Life would be a lot easier if we got the parents and children we deserve, but maybe if you're doing your best, and getting better at the bits you don't like, just take it a day at a time. There's no saying how DCs will see it in the end.

As for me, I'm not telling.

KateShmate Fri 13-Jul-12 15:01:46

"ds1 has started smacking me back and I hate being around him wondering if he's about to clobber me one"

Maybe he feels the same way?

OP, I'm sorry if that sounds really harsh - but you did say that you did want some 'cold hard reality' to make sure you change. I'm really not saying it to make you sound like you're a bad parent (You're definitely not!) but just maybe looking at it from your DS's POV.

When I see parents aggressively smacking their children, and saying that they've been 'so naughty', I can't help thinking that there is no wonder the children are naughty when they just get hit all the time.
I've said in other threads before, the thing I hate most about parents who smack is that I've never seen a parent in control when they are disciplining - I've only seen parents who are so out of control and angry that they just go crazy and repeatedly hit their child, swear at them, drag them along etc etc.

Sorry, am just voicing my opinions and still sad after seeing a horrible father and small girl this morning..

nosleepwithworry Fri 13-Jul-12 15:07:22

For me, i have always thought of mine as some one elses kid.

Theres no way i would banshee or hit some one elses kid.

I have to do it now with ds and homework, i could throw him across the room with frustration....but i think, hmmmm, treat him like my nephew....

It puts a whole new light on it.

Also naughty step, and a wall between us for a minute or two.

hth x

RiskItForABiscuit Fri 13-Jul-12 16:04:18

It's illegal where I live. Makes it much easier not to smack when you know how seriously it's taken.

But when I feel my temper going, I get myself away from them.

As regards to the older one being rough or hitting the younger one, I try to tell her to be gentle and show her rather than telling her 'Not to...'. Then she doesn't think about what she can't do but rather on what she can do.

I also think the actual filming, rather than pretending is a good idea. If your camera can record for long, that is.

PavlovtheCat Fri 13-Jul-12 16:16:04

positive self talk.

you need some quick, positive phrases that you can tell yourself that can immediately calm the situation. more often than not we use negative self talk which increases our anger. so, instead of thinking, or rather immediately after the inevitable 'you are naughty for hitting your brother' 'how could you hurt your brother?' 'fucking hell/for fucks sake' you replace it with 'you did not mean it' 'you are a little one yourself' 'you are learning still' one of those things gives you 'permission' to be angry and makes the next step harder to stop, where one of them takes your anger down, just enough to take that step away that you need, then as you take that step back, you need to think of something to calm you down. count backwards from 103 in 3's, or something that you will not finish. If you count to 10, then what happens at 10? you give yourself permisson to be angry again. If you count backwards from an obscure number, you are more likely to be calm before you get to it. Then, as you calm, think of the consequence 'if i hit him he will learn that is ok' 'i will get in trouble' it will hurt him 'he will be afraid of me'. When you have avoided a situation that you could have/would have used violence, but did not, reflect that and see why it worked, and look at the triggers (how was i feeling, what was going on to make me feel that way) and what you need to do to stop them again. for example, you might be more likely to react angrily if you are tired, or have had no break, or you have had some bad news, or an argument with a friend/partner/boss. And say well done to yourself.

There are steps to anger control, 10 if i recall correctly, and anyone of us who might snap can snap at any of those steps that we are not in control of.

It won't aways stop you feeling those impulses to lash out, but it will stop you from doing it. And practice in every area of your life where you might feel anger or frustration so this way becomes normal for you.

AlfalfaMum Fri 13-Jul-12 16:23:38

Thanks for starting this thread, hopefully some of the techniques will help me not smack my kids. I'm so quick to anger too, it's 0 to 100 in a split second so counting to 10 is useless when I really need it.
I rarely smack, only a handful of times really, but it's so futile and so mean and not how I ever want (ed) to be. I've put so much love and thought and time and effort into bringing up my children, and then I just fuck it all up in a second sad
My eldest is almost 13, and I slapped her on the bottom last week because she wouldnt stop shouting and screaming at me.
I have felt like utter shit ever since, and I don't think she's feeling great about it either. I have a plan now that when she gets like that, instead of hurting her, I will calmly take the little ones out for a walk and leave her to calm down.

I like no sleep's idea of treating them like someone else's kid.
And whoever said holding your own arms tight instead until the anger dissipates, I can see that working for me.

PavlovtheCat Fri 13-Jul-12 16:23:40

thing is, when you smack, you are allowing the instinctual 'primative' for want of a better word, part of your brain take over. that is fueled by adrenaline which makes our heart race and our blood pump faster and our ability to control our actions has been lost. By counting/positive self talk/deep breathing etc, you are moving the control back to the cognitive part of the brain, the logical part of the brain that you can actively control, that you can, i guess 'speak to'. Loss of control is use of I am not sure which part of the brain, centre or back, that is our 'cave man' part, when what we want to use is the frontal area.

that goes for smacking, 'losing it' in other parts of our life too, violence in general. Although possibly not partner violence which is less reactionary and more instrumental.

PavlovtheCat Fri 13-Jul-12 16:25:45

alfalfa in those split seconds, you ned to find one word, one positive word or quick phrase you can force into your brain to bring down the anger. 'love' 'hes a baby', or an image of something you love doing and could lose if you use anger 'cuddles' 'holding hands' 'laughing together'. they can be very powerful in bring down our emotions just enough to stop lashing out.

cybbo Fri 13-Jul-12 16:26:51

Do the W's thing

What did you do
What should you have done?
What will you do next time?

It calms me down and makes the child reflect on their behaviour rather than just being bollocked for it

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