"What your kid needs is a good, old-fashioned spanking!" Every time I hear this, it makes me cringe. Growing up in the '80s, my dad believed that spanking was a perfectly acceptable punishment for my brother and I. We weren't abused by any means, but when we really pissed our dad off, we knew a spanking was in the near future. And we hated it.
What did getting spanked as a punishment teach us? Nothing of value really, except to fear our dad's bad side. It taught us that if we're older, bigger, and stronger than someone who is making us mad, we're allowed to hurt them. It also taught us that resorting to violence is an acceptable way to resolve a problem.
I realise that spanking was a very common disciplinary measure by parents back then and has been going on for many generations, but for my family, I'm putting an end to it. I never have and never will spank my children. Instead of spanking, I take away screen time privileges, playdates, and favourite toys. Removing things they value greatly has a much more substantial impact on them than simply spanking their butts for a brief moment in anger.
By using these alternative punishments, my children fear the consequences they receive for bad behaviour, but they don't fear me. They know that I love them and would never hurt them. They know they can trust me to care for them, emotionally and physically. As a parent, it's my job to provide my children with a delicate balance of nurture and structure. It's a tough gig, one that can be exhausting, frustrating, and even complicated at times, but it's also one that has a big payoff.