Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Wannabe Smacker

I started writing this post before I knew “The Slap” was going to air and I actually didn’t watch it so I am not going to say anything on the matter of slapping other people’s children other than to state that I do not in any way condone an adult raising their hand to another person’s child. I also have no issue with the length of time a mother breastfeeds their child. Right, now that we have that out of the way I can get on with my actual post for today.

In my know it all, I have all the answers pre-children life I was certain that smacking would form part of how we would discipline our children. Luke and I have always felt that being smacked during our childhood did not have an adverse effect on us and in fact we believe it was a crucial part of us learning the respect that we both still have for our parents. There was a clear hierarchy within the family unit and while I would never say that my parents were strict, I knew that their decision was final and it was not open for debate.

I can only remember maybe 4 to 5 times at most during my childhood were my parents resorted to physical discipline and I am confident that they had tried many avenues before they came to this. For Luke, he grew up on a property with machinery, animals and fire arms which meant that lengthy reasoning and time-outs may not have been the most effective way of enforcing boundaries. He is the first to say that he would have grown up to be a right little bastard had he not met the wooden spoon regularly.

Skye is at a stage in her development where she is constantly testing my limits as well as her own. Requests, instructions and demands are all met with a defiant and non-negotiable “NO”. An example of this would be when I am attempting to change a dirty nappy. It is a constant struggle to pick her up, get her to lay down and then stay down without almost rolling off the change table. As soon as the nappy is undone she begins to kick and thrash to the point where I can almost guarantee that the contents will not remain within the confines of the nappy. Distraction and the offering of bribes are ineffective and the use of training pants may be fine for wet nappies, but try getting her to stand still while you deal with a dirty one. No one likes a toddler streaker leaving her mark around the house while you chase after her with a packet of wipes.

001Here mum, let me help you with that.

I feel that I speak to Skye in a clear, simple and most times calm manner and I have no interest in entering into a battle of wills with someone who does not have the life skills or self control to comprehend intangible consequences such as naughty corners and time outs. Positive reinforcement is all well and good but exactly how does one implement that when she is trying to superman from the lounge to the TV unit so she can play with the computer?

Her receptive language skills are fairly well developed but since the novelty of understanding what I am asking wore off and she realised that she could refuse, it was all over. Out of frustration and resentment of the fact that I have to continually repeat myself with little response, I step up the level of discipline and she is smacked. It is really a tap, delivered to her nappy covered behind, because I am seeking a finality in the power struggle, not to cause her pain or distress.

030Helping herself to the dog biscuits I placed on the table to stop her eating them.

The problem is that I assumed that the smack would be the miracle answer to pulling Skye back from her insistently naughty behaviour. I realise that she is still quite young and may be lacking the cognitive development to understand the relationship between her behaviour and my actions, but she certainly understands that she is doing something that deliberately defies my instructions, and gets infuriating satisfaction from it. On the occasions when I have used a smack it has had little to no effect. There is no motivation for her to stop her behaviour because the smack has been and gone, it is simply a temporary disruption to her activities and she promptly returns to whatever it was she was doing. Removing either her or the item is not always practical, especially when I am trying to get her into her car seat before we head out somewhere.

I ask my mum and mother in law for guidance on this fairly regularly as I feel that they both had  success in establishing defined boundaries and expectations. I feel that I must be doing something wrong and unfortunately they both tell me that Skye is quite determined and independent, which are both excellent traits for a person to have, but makes the job of disciplining her a big challenge. Just when I think I have stumbled upon a way to encourage her to behave appropriately, it stops working.

002Me? I wasn’t climbing on anything…

I see that I have to come at this from a different angle. I have to use her independence and adventurous nature to my advantage and determine what the benefit will be to Skye if she does or doesn’t do as she is asked. I am not seeking a means of punishment, I want her to understand that my directions are to protect her, to teach her and to help her. I use to think that smacking would be one of the tools that I would draw on to do this but in this instance, it is not the answer. In order for her to grow into the respectful, kind and patient person I hope she will become I have to look beyond the quick fix, reactive techniques and try to be more preventative in my methods by seeing the potential problems before they arise.

Wish me luck!

As always, since its Tuesday and I have blogged, I am linking up with the lovely Jess over at Diary of A Stay At Home Mum for iBOT.


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