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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I really need help. I do not believe in spanking and I think it is wrong for so many reasons. but the last month I have been spanking my 2 1/2 year old. I do not know why and it is becoming an automatic reflex. I also have been yelling at her in a way that is unacceptable.<br>
For example, I wanted to leave the house to go on a long walk with the two kids. I asked her to put on her pants. One simple task that I know she can do. But she wouldn't do it. I asked her several times and I just got angrier and angrier. So finally I spanked her and told her that she couldn't go. She had the biggest tears and I felt like the biggest jerk. I still yelled at her and told her to stop crying!<br>
She doesn't go to sleep, so I spank. She pushes her brother, so get gets a spanking. She tells me no, so she gets a spanking. She is only 2 and I feel like the bully at the playground.<br>
Our family has gone through a lot in the last year and I know that my stress level is high. Also, I was spanked a lot when I was growing up and physically abused at times. I am always battling this urge to spank as a form of discipline. Please help me with any advice. I know it is wrong and I am crying as I am writing this. I talked to my husband about it but I don't think he understands how I feel. Also, all of my friends believe that spanking is a normal form of discipline.<br>
How do I stop? I feel so horrible. Please, I know I am wrong I just need some help. What do I do? I never thought I would be writing this...
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"><br><br>
It sounds to me like you need some more tools in your toolbox. It sounds to me that two things are going on: in your stress you're lashing out (it's your body's fight/flight mechanism) and you don't have anything to replace it with. I lash out in stress too, and I know how hard it is to curb.<br><br>
For now, when you see red and want to spank, think "Stop". Then stop, take 10 deep breaths and actively work on relaxing your shoulders. Walk away if you have to. Then come back and try again.<br><br>
One of my favorite parenting books is "Playful Parenting" -- I think it gives some nice tools for defusing situations by making them more playful. For example, in the getting dressed situation, you could take your daughter's clothes and help her get dressed. Pretend to put her pants on her head, or her socks on her hands. She'll laugh, you'll laugh and it'll release the tension. While she <i>can</i> get herself dressed at 2, my kids still really liked help at that age. Heck, my 5 year old (nearly 6) still wants help sometimes.<br><br>
The other thing that Playful Parenting advocates is spending 30 minutes a day where your child gets to lead the play. This time really really helps rebuild connection. It sounds like things have been stressful for you, and your connection isn't what you'd like it to be.<br><br>
Other books that might be good for you are:<br>
Kids, Parents & Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (also one of my favorites)<br>
Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Davis & Keyser<br>
I like Parenting with Purpose by Linda Madison (Lynda?) for this age group too.<br><br>
The other thing that I might suggest would be to see if there are any positive discipline parenting groups/classes in your area. Sometimes it's nice to have people to talk to about these things and people to share ideas with. Since you live in an area where spanking is common, you may have to look a bit harder, but they are out there.
 

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One other thing, it can be difficult to resist a strong cultural force. If you are spending a lot of time with other parents who spank in front of you, or who talk about it, it will be more difficult for you to stop. Whatever you can do to avoid those situations (hanging out with friends who have no kids? reading MDC a lot?) until you've developed your new habit would probably be worth the effort.
 

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2 year olds have no impulse control and 2.5 can be especially difficult. 2 year olds often go through a "No" phase where they say no to everything. They hit, push and grab when they are stressed or feel their personal space has been invaded. Many 2 year olds need help getting dressed. Up until 3 I often just dressed my DD by the door on the way out, because it was the easiest. 2 year olds usually needed parented to sleep. My DD was still nursing to sleep at that age. So you are getting angry at your child for being herself, a normal 2 year old. She can't help it, but she will outgrow it. The books Playful Parenting and Kids, Parents & Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka are good. The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland is good for understanding emotional and intellectual development and how your parenting effects your childs. It has some practical advice on behavior too.<br><br>
One thing that's helped me treat my DD respectfully is to remind myself that she will expect other people in her life to treat her only as well as we do. If she grows up being talked to calmly and feels nurtured and respected she'll expect other people in her life to treat her that way too. So if I don't want some future son in law or her friends yelling at her or being mean to her then I can't let her think that's an acceptable way for people to act by doing it myself. I don't know if imagining how you would feel if some one else hit or yelled at your DD would help you when you have the impulse, but it couldn't hurt to try. Also imagining how you would react if someone close to you, friend or DH, treated you the way you are tempted to treat your DD. So ask yourself "would I want someone else to treat my DD this way?" and "would I want someone to treat me this way?" before acting on your impulses.<br><br>
When you begin to feel angry, take a time out. Tell your DD, "Mommy needs a few minutes" then do something you like for a few minutes. If you have someone to watch the kids, take a shower or a walk by yourself. If your other child is younger you are probably feeling overwhelmed. Making sure you are eating right and even taking extra B complex can really help with stress.
 

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Just stop doing it. Now that it has become a reflex, you need to replace that reflex with something else. Deep breathing and counting to 10 (as cliche as that sounds) can REALLY help diffuse your anger. You are losing control here and you need to work to regain it.<br><br>
It is a tough age! And it will continue to be tough in new ways. Try to understand what is normal behavior for the age and when she engages in those behaviors, rather than fighting her and getting angry that she is doing this to you and purposefully being naughty or whatever, change the way you are thinking about it. If you know that saying "No" to every request is totally normal, rather than DD being disrespectful, it can help you to limit your anger.<br><br>
Try to practice coping when you are not in the moment. You can easily envision all the types of scenarios that bring on the reaction, so imagine DD not cooperating when you have to leave or go to bed or whatever, but instead of hitting her, imagine yourself calmly dealing with it. It's not an immediate fix, but you can practice and it will become easier.<br><br>
Also when you are not in the moment, try to think about when you do lose your cool and what results. Because I am sure that yelling and spanking really don't help the situation so the more that you can intellectually accept that, the less you will be inclined to go there in the moment. If it is hopeless to hit or yell at her, what is the point?<br><br>
As another pp said, you need to find some people to hang with who don't think spanking is acceptable. It's much easier to embrace ideas wholly when you don't have people around you undermining it. Is there an AP playgroup in your area (check your tribal area) or something? Is your husband on board with this or does he think spanking is cool?<br><br>
You need to find ways throughout the day to get time for yourself (I know, yeah right!) Even if it means putting DD in front of the tv so you can sit in another room and enjoy a cup of tea, or taking a shower after dinner while DH is in charge of everything else. You have to do it so your stress level will be less!!<br><br>
And as someone else said, if you have to put yourself in time out, just do it. If you are about to hit DD, walk away and go in the bathroom and shut the door and yell at yourself if you have to. Sometimes screaming and throwing something on the floor can diffuse the anger and directing that at the bathroom instead of your DD will make you feel a lot better and then you may be more able to cope with her demands.
 

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I know this will sound silly but make sure to take care of YOU. That means getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and eating as healthy as you can, and some kind of excerise/time outdoors. I find that if I don't take care of those basic needs things seem to spiral out of my control more often. Like they tell you in the airplane safety video put on your own oxagen mask first.<br><br>
I really think this can make all the difference. I feel lthat fo me it gives me the chance to stop and think when I'm angry and not just got on autopilot.
 

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Where does your husband stand on this? I know this may not help as you daughter is a bit older than my son, but when either DH or I get frustrated, we say, out loud, I'm frustrated, and then the other parent takes over.<br><br>
Obviously this would only if your DP was around but even just the weekend and evenings would be a break.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I whole heartedly agree with all of you. I do not have all the tools I need in my toolbox. I feel as if I have done a good job up until this last month. I do believe that the cause of my poor parenting is due to factors that I can not control. Family drama (not with us but with sisters, parents, etc,), moved to a location, buying a house, DS does not like to sleep (although we are making a lot of progress), we are not settled in because we are in temporary housing., and my husband travels a lot. This does not excuse my behavior but helps me understand where my anger comes from.<br>
I am going down to the library today and seeing if they have any of these books available and if not I will buy them tomorrow on payday. Thank you for the book recommendations!<br>
Sigh, I wish we had a positive discipline group here! I live on a small island in Alaska! But that is OK…maybe after I learn a little more I can start a group of my own! BTW, the reason why I was getting so frustrated about her pants is that she knows how to get dressed. I am not making an excuse for my behavior. Bit she loves to put on her clothes…she even puts on her footed PJ’s by herself. Regardless, I know that there are times that she just wants or needs my help. At that moment, I wanted her to do it! Silly right? I agree with you. I need a time out or at least take a deep breath and laugh!<br>
Also, my husband does not believe in spanking as a regular tool for disciplining. He does think that there will be situations where it is warranted. I disagree.<br>
So here is my game plan-<br>
1.) Start making time for me- go to library or walk by myself. Anything really…we do not have to much to do around here.<br>
2.) Spend more time w/ likeminded people. This will have to be virtual for the time being.<br>
3.) Spend 1-on-1 time with my DD.<br>
4.) Get out everyday-even when it is raining! Good for me and good for the kids.<br>
5.) Pick my battles<br>
6.) When I start to feel angry I will count to 10, breath, and walk away. Then I will reevaluate the situation. Is she hungry or tired? Frustrated? Is it something that she can explore with my help?<br>
7.) Journaling about my day and how I handled situations.<br>
Thank you all for your kind words. I honestly have told my husband to punch me in the arm as hard as he can when I spank . He refuses to do it!<br>
Any other ideas? How do I get rid of the guilt? I feel so horrible.
 

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Here's one more quick one--the next time you reach out to spank her, REMEMBER how horrible you feel afterward.<br><br>
It doesn't help.<br><br>
It doesn't teach her anything but to be afraid of you.<br><br>
And it makes YOU feel awful.<br><br>
It's like junk food--seems like a good idea at the time but afterward you feel gross.<br><br>
Spend a lot of time here and you'll find that it really helps to change your thoughts process, and shift how you see what she is doing.<br><br>
hugs and hang in there!
 

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We all learn how to be people and how to interact with people by how we are treated. It's hard to replace learned social behavior. Guilt isn't going to help. Just don't do it again and be proud of yourself every time you are tempted and you don't give in. It may sound weird but letting my DD paint has always seemed to improve her behavior, and playing in the sink with water. Messy tactile activities seem to make her peaceful and more co-operative. When she was 2 she painted in a high chair to contain the mess.<br><br>
I was able to get most of the books I've read from inter-library loan. Amazon often has nice used books pretty cheap.
 

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One thing I've tried to do is not touch my daughter at all when I'm mad. If I have to grab her because she's in danger, I force myself to let go of the anger. If she's being difficult or throwing a tantrum and I feel my anger rising, I do not touch her at all until I've calmed down.
 

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Just in terms of getting dressed, it's normal for children to need or want at least some help until they are about 6 or 7. I pretty much dress my 3 yo even though he knows how, if I have any kind of a deadline to get out the door.
 

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I have a short fuse at the end of the day or if I haven't had food in awhile or if physical violence against the baby is occurring, and I can tell you what works for me - talking at the kiddo. I will narrate my frustrations using 'I' language. DS1 might think I am sort of nuts, but it's better than the fantasy of bopping him one or all-out screaming at him that runs in my head in particularly trying moments. I think it's helpful because a) it's a way to express my frustration or anger without yelling or hitting, and b) it's a way for me to identify what is MY deal, and what is his deal - my desire for speed, order, or cleanliness might be in conflict with the ways of a 2 1/2 year old, and as I say them out loud, it reminds me that sometimes I am irked because something is not going my way, and not necessarily that there's a true problem or emergency. Here's a pretend transcript of what I might say on one topic that can really get my goat because it goes on waaay too often right now, and it's gross and rude and unsanitary:<br><br>
"Buddy! Hey, what are you doing? Noooooo, we don't spit on people. Spitting on the floor or on people is disrespectful. It is really gross, and it's one of the most insulting things you can do to another person. It's a way of showing somebody that you REALLY don't like them."<br>
...spitting continues...<br>
"If you need to spit in the house, you know the spots - you can spit into the toilet or the sink or a trash can, anytime you want, as much as you want. But we do. not. spit on the floor. You are going to need to clean that up right away. Here's a rag. Come on, mop it up so we can go on to the next thing."<br>
...rag is not accepted, more spit on the floor and his shirt, lots of giggles...<br>
"I am really hungry right now and I don't have a lot of patience left. I need to go on to the next thing, which is cooking dinner. No spitting on the floor. Please spit in the toilet, the sink, or the trash can. This is really gross, disrespectful behavior. Spitting on the floor makes the house dirty, and we try to have a clean, tidy house so that everyone can enjoy it. I don't really want to clean this up right now, and I want you to come be my kitchen helper instead of spitting all over the floor. Can you do that with me?"<br><br>
Etc., etc. I got on his case with the verbal torrent about throwing food a few months ago to the point that he said, "Okay, okay," like a sullen teenager.
 

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First, on the guilt...remind yourself that every parent makes mistakes and that those mistakes are not going to scar your child for life. At 2.5, it's not even likely that she will remember the situation anyway. You can however use the situation to teach your child that every parent makes mistakes and that what's important is admitting your mistakes and fixing it.<br><br>
Do you have an overall discipline philosophy for yourself? Not a parenting philosophy (which imo is similar but different) and not a particular label you apply to yourself, but a goal/mission statement/overall reason for discipline that you believe in for you? I think it's one thing to say "I don't spank" or "I use time outs" or whatever, but it's another to say that x is what you want discipline to accomplish for your child and your family. This is what you want to teach your child and how. Do you want your child to always do what authoritiy figures tell him or her? Do you want your child to always question authority? Do you want a mix of both? Do you want your child to have specific behavior guidelines to live by and why? Do you want your child to be guided by an overall sense of right and wrong and make her own decisions based on that? If you don't I think perhaps taking some time to reflect on those things might help.<br><br>
Once you have an over all goal or reason for discipline, then you can get down into the types of discipline that may or many not work towards that goal. Are pushisments going to teach your child what you want? Are rewards? Are natural consequenses? Are no consequences (good or bad)?<br><br>
And then once you have narrowed down what systems might or might not work, then you can better fit in what specific techniques and tools might work best for you and best fit that system and philosophy that you most believe in. This is where you really ask if spanking fits your system and goals, if time outs fit your system and goals, if talking fits more, if standing in a corner fits more etc. It's one thing to say you don't spank because you don't believe it works, but I think it's better to understand for yourself why you don't think it works. And same with other techniques.<br><br>
To me, that's a long winded way of saying that perhaps taking a bit of time to figure out how you want to parent and discipline PROACTIVELY instead of reactively like you have been can help when you are in the heat of the moment. None of those things I have mentioned have to be some hard and fast rules or adhere to a certain lable of parenting, but they can give you some sort of overall framework to start from. When you have that framework in the back of your mind, it can help you think better in the heat of the moment about what things best fit into that framework.
 

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Ok, there is lots of good stuff on this thread. One thing that sticks out is someone said: and this is not a quote but something like; don’t touch your daughter when you’re angry. Start to recognize your inner body and how you feel when your children and life in general, isn’t going as planned or how you want it to go. Is the goal more important than the process? You can teach your children and yourself to make peace with what IS. Treat your children as if they were you as a child. Take tips from your children how to treat yourself. Breathe. The past if now over, make it better,no guilt, no fear. Peace Mama.
 

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I was reminded last night, to be careful not to pick a battle that I KNOW I cannot win, and is unrealistic. I was trying to get my 3.5 year old to stay in bed (there is no way that I would try and tell him to "go to sleep" ) but the baby was still awake, and fussy and crying which sends DS1 up the wall (behavior wise). It was a BAD idea and we got into a big conflict (me constantly putting him back in bed, baby on floor in hallway, crying. Me, getting more and more frustrated, and yes angry, DS laughing, me crying, DS hugging me, then laughing more, more jumping out of bed, grabbing toys, me feeling desparate, finally, yelling, much louder that every before! more crying. (me), finally I gave up, took DS out of bed, put him in front of TV to watch a show while I put baby to bed. ) It was HORRIBLE! I felt horribly frustrated and angry, but felt AWFUL about the yelling (and swearing!!) I immediately apologized but can't help thinking I somehow scarred him. I don't spank him, but beleive me, it runs through my head frequently. I learned that I should NEVER have said "stay in bed". He could have played in his room if he wasn't that tired. I KNEW he wasn't going to stay in bed, this is not a child that follows orders or requests. So, I know you know "pick your battles" as a way of avoiding conflicts, but I think that it is such a big one, and pretty complex. You may be just at the beginning of a period of a lot of struggles with your 2.5 year old and there is a huge learning curve at the beginning of that phase, so hopefully you will sort it out and learn new tools that don't include spanking. You will have to try to be very patient, and let some things go or you'll go crazy. Plus, try try try to not rush, as much as you can. I also love Playful parenting, and Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles. Good luck!
 

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I don't have any advice to add, I'm just going to repeat things that have already been suggested, but I decided to post just to say that I have struggled with similar impulses. I was spanked as a kid and find myself with the urge to spank or slap my DD when she acts up. It is very difficult to resist those instinctual responses when you are tired and stressed. I agree with the suggestions to focus on relieving your stress through more sleep, exercise, etc. and physically separate yourself from the kids when you are feeling angry and stressed. Playful Parenting is also a great book and personally I try to diffuse the situation by asking myself WWMPD? What would Mary Poppins do? The answer? Sing and dance. It works for me! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">:
 

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One more thing . . .roleplay ahead of time in your head. Visualize what you will do in the situation. Visualize her being difficult, you feeling frustrated, and then acting in the way you want to act.<br><br>
I think it's hard to practice in the moment-- this gives you a way to do it ahead of time.<br><br>
In the case of the long walk-- I would say, at that time, decide if it's worth it. Is the walk worth hitting? If not, then stay home and take a 5 minute break to cool off and switch gears.<br><br>
I am trying to work on more and more acceptance vs. controlling or changing anyone's behavior. It is not easy!
 
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"Sigh, I wish we had a positive discipline group here! I live on a small island in Alaska!"<br><br>
Hello from Anchorage!! I'm not sure if you have checked out the tribe sight but come on over. I'm not sure what resources you have near you, but the ladies on line are very supportive.<br><br>
GET OUTSIDE!!!! Let the kiddoes run off the energy. You talk about the level of stress you are experiencing. Make sure you are getting enough sunlight and take your Vit D.<br><br>
Laugh and smile!! 2.5 is hard!! Enjoy it! Go exploring.. have her go out without pants and see if she minds. Squeeze your hands together, stomp your feet and do a mad dance. Teach her how you want her to handle frustration!
 

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I just want to give you a virtual "pat on the back" for reaching out here and asking for ideas to stop spanking. It can be so hard when we're frustrated and get into a rut with discipline. Good for you for trying to do better.
 
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