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Getting Spanked for Timeouts

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Momlogic's Andrea: I thought timeouts were the progressive way to punish. But are even they too cruel?

Yesterday, when I picked my daughter up from her new preschool, the teacher told me my two-year-old was having trouble following directions that day. I nodded in weary agreement -- she's been very defiant this week.

"I give her timeouts," I offered, "That's what you guys do, right?"  

"Oh no!", said the young teacher, aghast. "We praise the good behavior and distract them with something else when they behave negatively."

Oh. Crap. This discipline thing is tricky. And here I was secretly patting myself on the back for not spanking my toddler's backside. Meanwhile, it turns out the preschool's mode of discipline makes mine seem like Abu Ghraib. But, hey, it's not like I'm waterboarding.

As the teacher expounded on the preschool's principles of punishment, my mind wandered to my timeout experience the night before. My daughter was locked in her chair prison -- it's amazing to me she stays put. She can escape any time -- instead, she begs for mercy. Her crime? Hitting me in the face when I tried to put on her new Dora pajamas. (Maybe I should've bought Diego instead?) I don't know if "distracting" her would've helped either of us at that moment. It took every bit of my moral strength not to punch her back.

Has the pendulum swung too far when it comes to doling out punishment for our kids?  I don't even know ANY moms these days who spank. Maybe I'm hanging out with the wrong crowd?

next: No More Back Fat!
24 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny April 9, 2009, 11:33 AM

We used (in order of use) being educated about child development so we would know what was just normal stuff that they couldn’t help (i.e., toddlers cannot help wandering off — it’s our job to supervise, not their job to know how to stay put); being organized because less chaos meant less bad behavior; distraction and empathy; reminders and strategizing a solution together; non-punitive time-outs (“let’s chill out on the couch for a while”) punitive time-outs (“you may not come out until the timer goes off”), and spanking (two swats on the bottom — usually for refusing to stay in a punitive time-out…but it was also the first resort for certain things). I think each of my kids ended up getting spanked about once a month when they were between 3 and 6. Maybe a few times a year at 7 and 8…at which time it was a kind of more formal spanking where they were told to go wait in their room and then we’d go in and they’d get about four swats. (These swats I’m talking about are just a hand slapping a clothed bottom, not taking their clothes off and hitting them with a board or anything weird like that.) After that it wasn’t like we decided to switch to something else. It was more like they just stopped doing those things that they had been spanked for so it wasn’t an issue anymore.

mary May 11, 2009, 8:17 AM

spanking is wrong. period!

Anonymous August 29, 2009, 2:29 PM

I read most of the comments and reasearch shows that parents who spank usually do so because they don’t know what type of discipline to use with their child. Spanking also is the number one cause of child abuse. The parent starts with a “swat” and then becomes frustrated because the child continues the disruptive behavior so the parent “spanks” again. Eventually, some parents end up “spanking” and leave bruises that last a life time. The problem with spanking and time out is that it does not “teach” anything. The word discipline has a latin root which means to teach. For example, if Johnny runs in the house and mom tells him 3 times to quit running and he doesn’t stop, then mom proceeds to spank him or put him in time out. What has Johnny learned? That mom will punish him? Johnny has not learned a POSITIVE REPLACEMENT BEHAVIOR for the negative behavior that irritates mom.
So, Johnny will run in the house again soon and end up in time out or spanked again. Mom has to teach Johnny a skill to replace the running along with a rule. The rule at home is “no running in the house” the new behavior is walking feet. You also have to look at what is triggering the running for Johnny. Is he trying to please mom by being on time, is mom rushing him, is he eager to get outside? Instead of punishing for the negative behavior try rewarding for the new behavior, walking feet. It will make everyone much happier. As a parent you feel better and the child feels proud. Of course, the parent does have to give reminders, but it’s better than spanking.Every negative behavior a child has can be replaced with a positive behavior.
The parent just has to “teach” them to the child.

Alyssa June 27, 2010, 10:47 PM

ok get the point who didnt spank back in the day???and you know how schools have laws about that and even a timeout is cruel to the government!WRONG!a spanking is what the teachers wanna give them but nope they cant!or they will get fired a timeout will help them but always spank them not to hard but hard enough for there lil booty to hurt!

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