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How Could I have Handled This Differently? (spanked DS)

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

We have never spanked almost 4 year old DS until yesterday. Here's what happened:

 

We arrived home from the park and had 30 minutes to go inside, eat lunch, and leave again once DH got home to do something DS was really looking forward to. DS wanted to wait in the car. I calmly told him it wasn't an option because he's not allowed to be out in the driveway/front of the house by himself (busy street, garage was too full to pull in) and besides it was too hot to stay safely in the car.

 

DS refused and started banging things around in the car very roughly, almost breaking things. I calmly told him he needed to stop and he could walk in the house himself or I could carry him in, which would mean a time out in his room. He immediately slammed the console shut again so I grabbed him firmly and brought him into the house. On the way to his room he started hitting me. I told him this was not ok and I would take a toy away for every time he hit me. I was up to 5 by the time he got to his room. I stayed calm this whole time (amazingly).

 

After a couple minutes his room was quiet and I opened the door to talk it over. He had one leg out of his window sill and laughed at me as he climbed the rest of the way outside and ran around the house (first floor window). When he ran back inside I took hold of his arm and marched him back to his room to talk. He started hitting me again.

 

Now I was trapped: I couldn't stay and let him hit me and I had no safe place to leave him alone. Taking his toys/privileges away was having no affect on his behavior. I explained that because I wouldn't let him hit me and I couldn't safely leave him alone if he didn't stop I would have to spank him (I explained what this meant). He kept hitting me so I spanked him. He cried long and hard as I held him and explained calmly over and over why I did that. I just keep trying to figure out what else I could have done.

 

We bought a window lock so he won't be able to get out his window again, but what do I do if he's hitting me and there's not a safe place to leave him alone?

post #2 of 55

Perhaps wrapping him in a blanket and holding him til he's calm might work. Or bear hugging him from behind so his arms are kind of pinned. I know not everyone agrees w/measures such as these, but I've worked in day cares and been a nanny for lots of kiddos that were pretty wild or had wild moments and the only safe thing I could do was hold them firmly until they were calm so they could remain safe from themselves and the other children. That's not to say I didn't come away with some bruises, but you just keep repositioning them or you to keep their limbs from flailing about as much as possible. 

I know you didn't ask about anything else, but I'm gonna offer...perhaps using natural consequences when he started hitting will help more than say taking away toys which have no correlation to him hitting you. I'd say some time in his room would suffice. He's pretty young yet. Usually enough time for them to calm down or 1 minute for each year old they are and not have it be punitive. They're allowed to come out when they're ready. and they're allowed to play or read or whatever. There's no "naughty" chair to be forced to sit in. The goal is for them to chill out, not feel bad, cuz that really doesn't help. If he comes out and he's still riled up you just calmly walk or carry him back to his room and explain that it looks as though he's not ready to come out and that you'd like him to stay in his room a bit longer. If it escalates you may just have to drop everything, not worry about time schedules, and sit with him til he's ok. Transition times in a busy full day can be really challenging for littles to deal with.

Good luck!!

post #3 of 55

The first thing I would have done differently is allowed either way more or way less time at home.  30 minutes would have been a disaster for us.  There wouldn't be enough time to wind down from the park, prepare and eat lunch and be ready for Dad to come home.  We'd need at least an hour.  OR  I would have lunch ready in the fridge, zip in and grab it and eat in the car while waiting or with Dad on the way.

 

I would also make his room a safe place for him.  You've got the window locks, so that's good. You didn't mention why else his room might not be a safe place to have him cool down.

 

If you don't have a safe place I like the bear hug suggestion from above. 

 

Also, were there any other options than his 'stay in the car' and your 'come inside'?  I let my girls sit on the front step sometimes when I can see them.  Or maybe he could have run in the backyard while you got lunch ready?

post #4 of 55


I have nothing productive to say otherwise, but I just can't fathom how this is any better than spanking.  I feel that way, too, about yelling.  "I yelled today, but at least I didn't spank" doesn't seem any better to me.  Emotional abuse is just as bad.  I think a near 4yo being rapidly swaddled would be traumatic and induce a fight or flight response.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prescottchels View Post

Perhaps wrapping him in a blanket and holding him til he's calm might work. Or bear hugging him from behind so his arms are kind of pinned. I know not everyone agrees w/measures such as these, but I've worked in day cares and been a nanny for lots of kiddos that were pretty wild or had wild moments and the only safe thing I could do was hold them firmly until they were calm so they could remain safe from themselves and the other children. That's not to say I didn't come away with some bruises, but you just keep repositioning them or you to keep their limbs from flailing about as much as possible. 

I
 

 

post #5 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post


I have nothing productive to say otherwise, but I just can't fathom how this is any better than spanking.  I feel that way, too, about yelling.  "I yelled today, but at least I didn't spank" doesn't seem any better to me.  Emotional abuse is just as bad.  I think a near 4yo being rapidly swaddled would be traumatic and induce a fight or flight response.
 

 



I completely disagree. I think hold/swaddling a 4 yo is way different than spanking. This method is used in facilities all over the country that specialize in dealing with emotionally or physically abused children. My brother was a hitter, and this is how we learned to deal with him. I dont think a bear hug is emotionally abusive. Typically children fight and fight and then eventually go limp when they are in a hold like this and then you just keep holding them and calming them down. I have even seen children go from being held like this while they were hitting to laying in the peson's lap and holding their hand after they had calmed down. Its a really good way to keep the kid from hurting other people or hurting themselves.
post #6 of 55

I'm not a fan of the bear hug. I did try it with my challenging kid, but it seemed really cruel, as it totally did freak him out in a very bad way. Like, I think he really convinced himself I was trying to murder him or something. The effect was really bone-chilling, tho.

 

My kid was closer to 4.5 when consequences like grounding and my modified timeout started being effective. Around that age he was really into certain TV shows, riding his bike up and down the sidewalk, and playing with neighborhood friends. Grounding him from that stuff became really effective eventually. But *nothing* was really effective at 3, so all I know to tell parents of three yo's is advice about how to try and stay sane. (aka, don't blame yourself for having a nutty kid, some kids are just like this, I have a second kid now who just doesn't do this stuff, and kid #2 was parented just like the hellion was.)

 

Until your kid is at an age where they can make a logical choice (hit mom vs get grounded, etc) to not hit you, etc...I just don't know. You just survive it. Everything you did minus the spanking. I know of no research backing my opinion up, but I strongly suspect that the exact same age where spanking starts to "work" is the age where grounding starts to "work".

 

If you try the bear hug, or anything else someone here comes up with, I very honestly hope it's effective for you right now. I mostly just want you to know that you didn't "make" your kid be like this because you're not enlightened enough or whatever. lol. And that there's a 90-99% chance that eventually non-spanking consequences will be effective.

post #7 of 55

i'm glad you got window locks - a safe place is the best answer.  In the situation you describe i would have probably done the hugging (welcome to MDC where hugging = hitting!) if there were no safe place, what about a bathroom, or your bedroom?  An empty bathtub can be good to cool down - i once put my DD in, fully clothed and put the water on and got in, also fully clothed, with her.  It sure broke the tension!  If there were truly NO safe place where he could chill out i would have gone with the hugging to keep him safe and try to avoid getting hit.

 

And i think you're lucky in a weird way - if i'd smacked my DD she'd have climbed straight back out the window yelling that her mama was beating her (i don't smack) and she's on the 2nd floor (well, 1st in the UK!) but it wouldn't have stopped her!

post #8 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post

i'm glad you got window locks - a safe place is the best answer.  In the situation you describe i would have probably done the hugging (welcome to MDC where hugging = hitting!) if there were no safe place, what about a bathroom, or your bedroom?


Right.  Maybe I misunderstood what a bear hug was.  To me it is a big hug that would keep DC close without my getting hit.  Thereby giving them a chance to cool off without anyone getting hurt. And we'd be close enough so that I could talk to them.  It certainly wouldn't involve emotional abuse or anything! yikes!

 

I'm still of the mind that the OP's child's behavior was a product of his circumstances that snowballed out of control.  Making some changes, ie making a safe place for him to cool down, planning the schedule better,  offering options, etc,  might prevent her from being in the situation to begin with.

 

post #9 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

  I feel that way, too, about yelling.  "I yelled today, but at least I didn't spank" doesn't seem any better to me.  Emotional abuse is just as bad.  I
 

 



I just have to respond to this. As someone who has been through a childhood full of emotional abuse, and is a recovering yeller herself, let me say yelling is NOT the same thing as emotional abuse. Yes, they do many times go hand in hand, but there is a significant difference. Emotional abuse involves shaming, guilt trips, put downs, name calling, manipulation, threatening... Yelling can be as simple as the raising of one's voice to show irritation/frustration, or it's outright screaming, and sometimes involves the above. I have yelled many times but I have NEVER emotionally abused my children.

 

"The American Medical Association AMA describes Emotional Abuse as: "when a child is regularly threatened, yelled at, humiliated, ignored, blamed or otherwise emotionally mistreated. For example, making fun of a child, calling a child names, and always finding fault are forms of emotional abuse.Emotional abuse is more than just verbal abuse. It is an attack on a child's emotional and social development, and is a basic threat to healthy human development."2

 

http://www.findcounseling.com/journal/child-abuse/emotional-abuse.html

post #10 of 55

Wow I would have lost my head with that behavior (I have had that behavior and I have lost my head).  Was he tired?  I'd probably have threatened to take away whatever activity he was going to do with your husband, and followed through.  And screamed my head off about 'absolutely unacceptable' behavior.  And I'd probably still be lecturing him.  winky.gif

 

I dislike the bear hug thing.  I guess it might work for some kids but not mine.  

post #11 of 55
Thread Starter 

These replies are all so interesting and helpful. As at least one pp mentioned, I now see it was definitely a result of events spiraling out of control. We are going through a stressful time as I just miscarried twins last week and my parents had been with us for a week and just left on the morning this incident happened. I remember the exact moment when he was sitting in the car slamming the console down ignoring me and I literally felt something snap inside of me...I was done! I couldn't stand the fact that he was blatantly ignoring me and I felt so helpless to get him inside. I also am physically weak and tender from my miscarriage so I was leery of doing anything too physical with him (i.e. carrying him inside or trying to restrain him while he was hitting/kicking).  I know all that played into spiraling out of control...not only did it affect DS but it affected my tolerance levels and ability to creatively deal with the situation before it got out of control.

 

Regardless, I'm not perfect and there are times when I let things spiral.

 

But once I am healed physically (and emotionally lol) I will definitely try the bear hug technique next time things get out of control (and I'll be even more aware of the steps leading up to the "getting out of control" danger area!). I just feel like sometimes when he gets so angry or just out of control...I don't know how to stop his behavior and get him to "snap out of it" so to speak. Up until now, keeping him in his room worked and hopefully still will now that we have window locks.

post #12 of 55

Oh I am so sorry for your losses.  :hug:

post #13 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by bstandlee View Post

These replies are all so interesting and helpful. As at least one pp mentioned, I now see it was definitely a result of events spiraling out of control. We are going through a stressful time as I just miscarried twins last week and my parents had been with us for a week and just left on the morning this incident happened. I remember the exact moment when he was sitting in the car slamming the console down ignoring me and I literally felt something snap inside of me...I was done! I couldn't stand the fact that he was blatantly ignoring me and I felt so helpless to get him inside. I also am physically weak and tender from my miscarriage so I was leery of doing anything too physical with him (i.e. carrying him inside or trying to restrain him while he was hitting/kicking).  I know all that played into spiraling out of control...not only did it affect DS but it affected my tolerance levels and ability to creatively deal with the situation before it got out of control.

 

Regardless, I'm not perfect and there are times when I let things spiral.

 

But once I am healed physically (and emotionally lol) I will definitely try the bear hug technique next time things get out of control (and I'll be even more aware of the steps leading up to the "getting out of control" danger area!). I just feel like sometimes when he gets so angry or just out of control...I don't know how to stop his behavior and get him to "snap out of it" so to speak. Up until now, keeping him in his room worked and hopefully still will now that we have window locks.


I'm so sorry for your losses!   We all have times when we just snap.   In our house we have a code word that we use with DD1 when she pushes our buttons.  We call it 'burning'.  As in, "DD1, I feel like I am really burning up inside!  This [insert behavior] has to stop now!"  She knows, now, what that means and will usually back off.

 

Another suggestion, which I remember from pre-marital counseling, is to try to diffuse the tension and anger with humor.  It is incredibly difficult to let go of one's own anger and frustration, but in doing so you can often release others (kids, partners) from their own snowballing anger.

 

So in this case, when the car incident started to get out of hand maybe saying something like "how loud can you honk the horn?"  (or even honking it yourself to catch him off guard)  or starting to sing a silly song or asking him to climb out the back hatch instead of his seat  might have distracted him from his anger.   DH and I sometimes bust out with an inside joke when we feel like our disagreements are getting too heated so maybe a joke with DS could work, or a silly hat made from something not a hat. You know, just do something so over the top that it grabs his attention.

 

It can be so hard to find a solution because so many suggestions might or might not work given the day or situation, but hearing them might trigger an ah-ha moment the next time you need it.

 

post #14 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodchick View Post




I'm so sorry for your losses!   We all have times when we just snap.   In our house we have a code word that we use with DD1 when she pushes our buttons.  We call it 'burning'.  As in, "DD1, I feel like I am really burning up inside!  This [insert behavior] has to stop now!"  She knows, now, what that means and will usually back off.

 

Another suggestion, which I remember from pre-marital counseling, is to try to diffuse the tension and anger with humor.  It is incredibly difficult to let go of one's own anger and frustration, but in doing so you can often release others (kids, partners) from their own snowballing anger.

 

So in this case, when the car incident started to get out of hand maybe saying something like "how loud can you honk the horn?"  (or even honking it yourself to catch him off guard)  or starting to sing a silly song or asking him to climb out the back hatch instead of his seat  might have distracted him from his anger.   DH and I sometimes bust out with an inside joke when we feel like our disagreements are getting too heated so maybe a joke with DS could work, or a silly hat made from something not a hat. You know, just do something so over the top that it grabs his attention.

 

It can be so hard to find a solution because so many suggestions might or might not work given the day or situation, but hearing them might trigger an ah-ha moment the next time you need it.

 


Great ideas! I love to stockpile mental options so hopefully at least one will come to mind in the heat of the situation! I'm a little ways into the Playful Parenting book and the humor ideas sound like something that would come from there :)

 

I think having a code word might work with DS too. I'll have to talk it over with DH and DS and come up with something.

 

post #15 of 55


Ahahaha.  I think this comment was a little much, but whatever.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post

(welcome to MDC where hugging = hitting!)


 

A bear hug is one thing...wrapping in a blanket is another.  I can't picture how this goes.  So, the child is in a rage, and is screaming and hitting and whatnot and you wrap him in a blanket so tightly he can't move?  Seriously?  Holding a child and preventing them from hurting you, to me, is SO different from this whole "wrap him up in a blanket" thing. 
 

 

post #16 of 55



 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by GoBecGo

 

i'm glad you got window locks - a safe place is the best answer.  In the situation you describe i would have probably done the hugging (welcome to MDC where hugging = hitting!)

I don't think hugging = hitting, but I just don't think it's anywhere close to a normal hug when the kid thinks you're trying to kill them. I think if you're doing something to your kid and they think you're trying to kill them, I think you need to stop, regardless of your actual intentions or how unsafe they actually were.

 

My kid might very well have been a unique snowflake with his perception of my "hugging" him to get him to stop hitting me, but I'm skeptical.

 

The "bear hug", when used, is a method of restraint. And it's not a method of restraint that all kids respond well to, IME.

post #17 of 55

I felt like I needed to chime back in. I know folks here are mostly against forcing their children to do things against their will, as am I; however, until you've experienced an out of control child who doesn't respond to redirection, humor or distraction and is in danger of harming themselves or others you won't understand fully why someone would want to use this technique.

 

There's a book on this topic if anyone is interested in learning more. http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Time-Martha-G-Welch/dp/B002ECEHZQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1307734070&sr=1-1

 

I think the thing I appreciate most about this method is that it shows a child that despite the intensity of his anger you are there with him, you love him, and even if he hurts you-you're still there, and it can lead to some serious bonding/reconnecting when the tantrum is complete. One of the key things is to remain calm and loving yourself. You're there to witness every emotion your child needs to express while keeping them safe, and as the tantrum diminishes you are able to lessen the firmness of the hold until the child is merely lying in your lap calm as can be.

 

I'm not advocating this as a method to be employed for every child. It was merely a suggestion for something the OP might try in the future if she finds herself in a similar situation.

post #18 of 55

Well, you  lost it and committed what is an act of violence against your child. You need to admit responsibility for it. There is no rationalizing about it. You did not swat his butt as way of preventing him from dashing  into a busy street. You went after him and spanked after you told him that you would do it. That is premeditated acts of violence. You are teaching someone not to hit by hitting  them

 

That said, it is important to forgive yourself once you accept what you done. 99% parents loose it at some point and do something they regret. Remaining 1% are liers.

 

I had kid with bipolar disorder who did all sort of property damage an hitting others until his disorder was under controls. We learned safe restarting methods. You can get hold of a child and restrain them using your body in such way that is no harmfull to them, not harmful to you and allows you to prevent them from being danger to self and others. It is very important to stay calm, and not talk at all sometime, because during an episode like this a child is not listening.

 

 Also, if the window is totally secure, sometime it  helpfull to let kid rage in his room. Afterward, it is his job to clean up and it is explained to the child that thing he broke will not be replaced

 

Eventually, the child becomes exhausted and stop struggling. I find it help full  at this point to do something like have tea or lemonade together and talk calmly.

 

 

Both methods worked for my son. Another good  thing about dealing with hitting and tantrums in non violent way that it was good for me too. I did not have to feel guilty about spanking or slapping my child.

post #19 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alenushka View Post

Well, you  lost it and committed what is an act of violence against your child. You need to admit responsibility for it. There is no rationalizing about it. You did not swat his butt as way of preventing him from dashing  into a busy street. You went after him and spanked after you told him that you would do it. That is premeditated acts of violence. You are teaching someone not to hit by hitting  them



I feel this was harsh and unnecessary. I came to this board for help because I wanted different options, not to help me rationalize what I did was right.

 

To be honest, the rest of your post lost all credibility with me. Next time you're trying to help someone with alternative methods to spanking perhaps you could be a bit more gentle. Especially to someone who is in the middle of a grieving process for 2 lost babies.

post #20 of 55

Ok, first, just put what happened into the emotional compost pile. It's done now, and you can move forward with a better situation.

 

I completely and totally and utterly agree with the PP who mentioned you needed *more time.* When I feel rushed, I feel tense. When I feel tense, my son feels my tension and acts it out physically in some way -- running around crazy, climbing on things, getting into things he shouldn't, hitting, screaming, etc. He's just about 3, btw. So, I know I need to give myself more time for things -- and so I might have reorganized this day around the activity with Daddy so it would be more mellow overall. 

 

In addition, DS goes nutso when he's hungry. He can't say that he's hungry, but when he is, he starts acting crazy. Feeding him makes a huge difference -- he mellows right out. So, it could have been a combination of hunger and tension that was setting your son into a completely mercurial state (cheeky monkey climbing out the window!) that frustrated the heck out of you.

 

There's also a situation going on, isn't there? You are grieving -- which means emotions are running very high and you have a very short fuse -- right? This means you also need much more patience with yourself in these situations -- if you loose it, you loose it. It goes into the compost bin once it's done, you move forward.

 

I'm pretty sure every parent has been at the end of their rope -- and done something that they truly didn't want to do. I know that I have been there. And, it's true, I need to intellectually own up to it, but that doesn't mean holding on to regret and guilt over it -- because that makes it harder to develop skills so it doesn't happen again. That's why it goes into the compost. :)

 

I would say that if you can make sure he's fed and give yourself more time in general, things will go more smoothly. after that, he might just be a normal little guy who is deeply curious and capable of extremely mercurial behaviors. My son is also quite mercurial. It's not inherently naughty, btu sometimes it is and he knows it! He's full of mischief. Sometimes, I have a low tolerance for it.

 

I find that if I can see the humor, and laugh at his mercurial way of being, he feels that he's being seen and valued for what he is doing (exploring, playing, mischief), and he's very willing to do as I ask "oh, come here you funny boy!" tends to work well. But, only if I have emotional space for it, you know?

 

Create space for yourself and your son at every opportunity -- particularly because you are grieving. You'll both be fine, truly. 

 

I'm very sorry for your losses. 

 

 

 

 

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