I spanked my 2yo but only as a last resort. Or so I believed.
But you know what? When I quit spanking… My list of discipline options got longer! It had to – when I knew hitting wasn’t an option, my creative brain was forced to try harder. And, as the human brain is wont to do, it rose to the challenge!
One day, I found myself thinking, ‘What, in the scheme of things, can a toddler do, really, that deserves the punishment of last resort? Steal my grocery money to buy cocaine to on-sell to other more vulnerable babies?’ If it’s a last resort, surely it should be reserved for truly heinous crimes – things a toddler is completely incapable of? When I look at how much my son has matured in the last four years – without the ‘help’ of spanking – I realise that every time I hit him in those early days, every time his beautiful brown eyes showed a deep sense of betrayal, every time he said, ‘Don’t hit me, Mummy!’ – I was punishing him for… being 2. For being impulsive or exploring or experimenting or not remembering a rule… In fact, I was punishing him for being a *good* toddler… No wonder the ‘rod verses’, if they were intended to be taken literally, are about *youths*, not small children!
Not that my creativity is always at the top of its game, of course – I often find myself at a loss. At those times, my go-to plan is The Five Steps, or a hug. I should really make the hug my number-1 go-to plan. And while hugging, to get the creativity flowing, I want to try one of two words I got from Crystal Lutton (The 5 Steps is on her website): Instead of thinking about punishment or consequences, I will ask myself, ‘How can I help my child succeed?’ or ‘What is a solution to this problem?’
And, by God’s grace, an idea so often presents itself, and I realise once again that no matter how frustrated I may be, my child is not yet a delinquent in need of the punishment of last resort.
What are your top ‘first resort’ options for gentle parenting?