Advice Regarding Spanking

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by rspeaker, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. rspeaker macrumors 6502

    Jan 1, 2006
    I'm not a mother, but I frequently help watch my niece and nephew. I've been requested by my sister Heather to find a parenting forum to discuss a recent situation. I appreciate all feedback.

    My brother Cory began watching my niece Kelsey after school at the end of August. He works nights, so he gives up some sleeping time, but he really enjoys doing this. Truth be told, my niece is a cute little kid, and she can be fun to have around. Every day, my sister picks her up from our apartment, after first picking up our three year old nephew Colton from daycare. He's fun sometimes, but he often has too much energy and simply has no regard for authority. When he comes over, our mild-mannered niece often starts acting out too. Our family isn't sure if it's because she's excited to see him, or if she's trying to make up for attention lost when he's around, but it happens regardless.

    The other night she came to pick up Kelsey, Colton came in, and he and Kelsey started acting up, ie running around the apartment, and Colton was jumping on, running on, jumping off, and climbing up the arm of the couch. In about a ten to fifteen minute period, I told him twice to sit on the couch, and my sister told him twice. I told him a third time, so he jumped off the couch and proceeded to climb up the arm from the side (which is right where my sister was sitting.) I stood up, grabbed him under his arms, set him on the ground, and gave a firm but not hard swat on the behind. He didn't cry, he just sat down right where he was. He sat there for about five minutes; under verbal warnings, he never stopped. It was the first time I've ever spanked a child, and truly, can't imagine hitting or abusing a child; I simply gave him one spanking on the behind, and let it be.

    My sister made as if she was going to hit me, and then proceeded to tell me how she's repeatedly told me not to lay my hands on her children. Less than three weeks prior, my niece was touching my very expensive computer, which I told her twice not to touch. She touched it a third time, so I came in, picked her up under her arms, carried her to the door, and merely said, "Put on your shoes; we're leaving [for dinner] now." This occured while both my sister and brother-in-law where here; in fact, my sister was not six inches from Kelsey when she was touching the computer.

    Long story short is, my sister spent an hour giving me an angry lecture about how I don't know how to deal with children, and how I merely undermine her role as a parent by taking things into my own hands. The question is, was it irresponsible for me to do this? We have clearly defined rules here, which both kids and parents are aware of. If the parent does nothing, is it wrong to do something myself? Are our rules, not jumping/climbing on the couch, too tight; is that something little kids don't understand, as my sister insists?

    She said to post and get some feedback. This really isn't about spanking, not meant to spark some big debate on that, but merely focused on this specific instance (which, as I said, is the only time I've used a spanking as discipline.) Thanks, and if anyone has questions/needs clarification, I'd be happy to do so..

    EDIT: In at least one place I changed "spanking" to "swat on the behind." I gave my nephew one swat on the butt. Apparently some people hear spanking and think, pants pulled down, bent over a knee, and repeatedly hit. That was by no means the case.
  2. Coolerking macrumors member


    Aug 11, 2006
    I think spanking isn't a problem. The only thing here is I don't know if I could spank other people's kids. I would have said to your sister, 'ok, either get that kid down or I'll do it and they won't like it'. That way your sister has authority and control over the kids but it lets her know you won't tollerate it.

    Kids today are coddled too much. My parents spanked me when I was young and I'm glad they did. I would have been a brat otherwise.

    "And if they get out of line, I got no problem just smackin'em in the head" - Jack Black School of Rock
  3. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    All children need boundaries set. The important thing if you are going to use spanking is to always give warnings beforehand by actually saying you will spank them if they don't do as they are told and to always be consistent in applying the punishment. On this occasion you gave warnings, but did you also warn what was going to follow?

    Kids aren't stupid and can deal with different adults having different rules and consequences, so it does not undermine your sister if you spank her children as a last resort. However, you and your sister need to sit down and discuss this rationally to make sure you are singing from the same sheet when you are in front of the children.
  4. mdntcallr macrumors 65816


    Aug 1, 2000
    this is one of the weirdest questions i have ever seen on macrumors.

    let your sister spank away, they are her kids. but if she doesnt want them spanked you ought NOT to. of course it would be nice if your bf/husband also spanked you. u know in the good way.

    (hope you have a sense of humor)
  5. BakedBeans macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2004
    What's Your Favorite Posish
    Wether you were right or wrong in parenting terms, you are very wrong to smack a child if there parent has told you otherwise. It is not your place to smack somebody else's child. I say that as a father.

    I have to be honest, I am not completely against smacking, although my child very rarely requires any sort of physical punishment, this isn't because he is some kind of angel, it is just because I can (through experience really) handle the situation and "manipulate" (more suggestiveness really) him into being interested in something else, this is mainly through positive parenting, if you get them doing something else fun other than jumping on the furniture etc then children normally respond far better than being told not to do something.

    I have loads of advice on how to keep children entertained and active, PM me if you need any advice of a chat. Just be wary of taking advice from people with no experience with children or don't have children themselves.

    Thats my opinion anyway.
  6. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    If your sister doesn't want her children spanked, then she has to perform some other discipline. Simply saying 'stop' doesn't work - you have to do something else whether that's putting them in another room alone for a few minutes (the time should relate to age of child) or carrying through on the threat. Smacking should be a last resort and used sparingly otherwise the shock factor of a light slap isn't as great.

    Threats have to be immediate - kids that young don't have much sense of time when it comes to cause/effect. Bribes/threats like they will/won't get any sweets in the afternoon don't have any effect. The bribe/threat has to be imminent. Your example of your niece is a good one. You tell her if she touches it again that you're leaving. She touched it again, you leave.

    In the instance with your nephew, it is tough at 3 for kids to know the difference between being naughty (and pushing boundaries) and causing damage. I'd likely have gone for the diversion of sitting them on the sofa/floor and giving them something to do there initially - or telling them that we're playing 'sleeping tigers' and there's a prize. Or told them that if they want to be noisy, they'll do it elsewhere and put him in another room for a few minutes.

    I smacked my little cousin once while watching him. He kept trying to touch the oven door and despite distractions and quiet rooms, tried each time he was in the room. After 3 times, I smacked him (lightly, single time on hand) when he went to touch it. I figured that better a smack and shocked face than a burned hand. He didn't go near it again that day.
  7. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    I can't condone the spanking but I can understand the frustration you felt at the children's behavior and the lack of action on the part of your sister. If the rules are clearly defined, both for the children and the adults, I think you should instead direct your frustration towards your sister (in this case). Like it or not, you did usurp your sister's parental position... though I could see instances where that might be the right thing to do (abuse, neglect, etc.). I would discuss this with your sister and ask her to be more pro-active when it comes to enforcing the rules already in place. If she's not willing to do this, perhaps cutting back on visits might be the only effective solution... maybe visits from one child at a time only? Or perhaps having games/toys on hand for them to play with..

    Ultimately, involving hitting only encourages that hitting is an okay form of expression, in my opinion.. especially with children that young. Try to work on the behavior of the parents first... that would be way more effective I think.

    As far as if the rules are too tight... I don't think so. It's all about respecting other people's boundaries and if your niece is generally well-behaved without your nephew around... well then, she probably has some idea of what is acceptable and not. And so should your nephew. If you haven't already, maybe explain why you would like them not to jump/climb on the couch (it's special to you, ask if they would you to go to their house and wreck their bed, etc.)... why your equipment is important to you, etc.
  8. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    [joking]I prefer the Darwin theory of child development... let them touch that oven, I'm sure they won't do it again. And if they do, well..[/joking] :)
  9. pianoman macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    don't spank other people's children, even if they are your nieces and nephews. it's not your role. if they are acting in a way contrary to how you believe they should behave, then have your sister take care of them (it seems she doesn't care that they run around, which clearly bothers you). if she doesn't, ask them to leave.

    don't have them over to your house if you don't want them touching your computer. or, if you must have them over, make sure your computer and other nice things are in a place where they cannot go. if you're at their house and they are acting this way, just leave. no one is making you stay there.
  10. kasei macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    There was a time if a child did something wrong, whomever caught that child acting badly could give them a good smack on the butt. But today for some strange reason people don't spank their kids or other people's kids.

    I heard a little girl no more than 7 call her mother a bitch in the supermarket because her mother told her she couldn't have any candy. The market was pretty crowded and there were many people standing in line. People were shocked at the little girls response to her mother. The mother gave the girl a light smack across the lips and the people in line applauded this. Of course after the woman and the now crying girl left people began to talk. The vast majority of the people in line were glad the woman smacked the little girl, but one lady felt it was excessive and started lecturing everyone on how they should talk to their kids and not spank them.

    My parents spanked us on rare occasions. It only took a couple of times before we realized how far we could take things. I am not against it, and in fact parents might want to use it more often since we've seen the results of talking to kids.

    However people freak when they find out someone spanked their kids, especially parents who don't believe in disciplining their kids. I'll put it this way. If you are going to take care of your sister's kids you need to lay down some rules. If she doesn't like them, she can find someone else to watch her kids.
  11. Dros macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2003
    I don't think the issue is spanking or not spanking, but setting rules and learning ways to enforce them. The kid's mother, if she is there, has to respect your rules, such as not touching the computer. By doing nothing, she is forcing you to act.

    Now, I was never spanked, and I have never spanked my own daughter. I was well-behaved and she is well-behaved. I give her a warning, and if she continues in the behavior I don't beg her to stop, I tell her it is a timeout. If the activity is related to something she enjoys, such as she is climbing on the sofa unsafely while watching the movie, then the movie gets turned off.

    I think there are just a few hard aspects to effective discipline. You have to be willing to sacrifice to enforce the rules. If you are shopping, and the child has a tantrum, you have to either mollify with candy or be willing to walk out of the store if she doesn't calm down. If kids learn that bad actions can be worthwhile, then the bad actions will continue.
  12. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    I agree. From the OP's experiences about the niece behaving well outside the presence of the nephew... leads me to believe that the niece at least has an understanding of what is asked of her. Maybe when the nephew is over, she sees her brother acting up and thinks it's okay for her to act out, too... or she's seeking attention, who knows. But alone, she seems to behave fine. That means there's hope for the both to act nicely when they visit... but your sister isn't stepping in to help see that they do.
  13. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
  14. MultiM macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2006
    TO. I've moved!
    I think you were right to spank junior once. Your house, your rules. If Sis can't understand that then she needs to find someone else to watch her kids. Children need to know what the boundaries are and the consequences for crossing them. It sounds to me like Sis doesn't discipline her kids and they run roughshod over her. That's worse than giving the rare spanking. Sis needs to re-examine her own methods. Just my own thoughts, of course...
  15. liketom macrumors 601


    Apr 8, 2004
    when i was little i was always getting the slipper :(

    never did me any harm - like someone said setting boundrys is a good thing

    kids these day's get away with murder
  16. ejb190 macrumors 65816


    The effectiveness of spanking is going to depend on the child. As my mother put it, it worked on my brother, but not on me.

    I have mixed feelings about punishing/spanking someone else's kids. What drives me nuts is when parents are not willing to take care of their own defiant children. If you can not control your kids at 3-5, are they going to be any better at 16? Parents have to quit trying to be their kid's best friends and start being parents.

    I suggest picking up a book by Dr. James Dobson. He writes from a Christian perspective, which I realize you might not agree with, but his parenting advice is often hard to argue with.
  17. njmac macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Try this book. I think his techniques are rock solid for positive parenting.

    Don't spank your sister's children. That shouldn't even be an option up for debate.

    and the number one rule for disciplining children......

    FOLLOW through with your punishment. They will test you to see how far they can go.
  18. kasei macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    A great point was made earlier about parents being friends with their children. When did this become the norm? It is a conflict of interest if you ask me. Parents need to be become friends when your children are adults. How are you going to establish a set of rules when you are busy trying to be a kid's friend?
  19. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    I'm not sure that being a parent and a friend are mutually exclusive.

    Good friends and good parents both set limits on what they'll accept in terms of behaviour.

    My mother slapped me once... (and I likely deserved it) but I knew what the boundaries were in terms of what I could/couldn't do. And I knew that I would be punished by books/toys being taken away etc if I broke the rules. I may have thought things were unfair at times but we generally managed to compromise and get through things.

    In adulthood, my mother is one of my best friends. I can't think of much that I wouldn't share with her...
  20. MarkCollette macrumors 68000


    Mar 6, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    Disclaimer: I'm not a parent, so potentially what I think might not matter worth a damn.

    I totally agree with you. I think the crux of the issue is that:

    A. Of course someone wouldn't want a third party doing anything to their kids that they don't want. In this case, it's spanking.

    B. The children are acting badly, potentially damaging this guy's stuff. The sister's methods are ineffective with dealing with that, but his methods seem to work.

    So, the only sane resolution is for the sister to aquire better methods that actually work. Then she can resolve issues when she's there, and he could do these same things himself when she's not there. Maybe that means spanking, or maybe it means some kind of child psychology book idea.
  21. MarkCollette macrumors 68000


    Mar 6, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    I could understand if you've found a better approach with your kids, but to say it's not even an option sounds a little ludicrous to me.
  22. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop
    Spanking is humiliating, painful, and emotionally traumatic.

    And thought should be given to its use.

    1. I was spanked (back of the thighs with a yardstick -YEEEEAOW!), whenever I did a bad. But my parent were very very clear to tie the punishment to the crime, and used it only for the worst offenses. Lesser ones ranges from "Sent to Room", "Sent to bed w/o Supper", and revocation of privileges.

    If I may explain a bit on my opening sentence a bit, spanking is humiliating, pulling the pants down is a terrific forboding to what is about to happen, painful (well DUH!), and emotionally traumatic - I knew that my father loved me, and even when I was 5 or 6, knew it was hard for him to do, and that affected me.

    2. Only do it to you own kids. You are parents only to them. If the child is a guest, consider them having 'diplomatic immunity' and report their doings to their own parents for punishment in their 'home country'. And explain to the child's parents that they wouldn't be as welcome until the child grew up a bit.

    Lastly: I hated it at the time, but now, at 33 really appreciate my paren't old-school approach to child discipline. It taught me right from wrong and what conequences were.
  23. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    on spanking, I never was and niether was my sister, it should not be needed, and if it is it shows bad parenting in the first place, also I don't think you should bring any physical harm to anyone elces child, I can't really think of justification for it, it just seems inherantly wrong.

    by far the easiest thing to do to have your children behave well is to cut their suger down to a bare bare minimum, also get them to do stuff they'll acctually enjoy, hell introduce them to chess or get them into reading lots, cutting the suger is a prerequisit for this, as hyper kids just want to run about and yell.
  24. annk Administrator


    Staff Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    I think spanking is unacceptable. Violence does not teach any useful lesson. Spanking is a poor excuse for real parenting.

    I think you handled the computer episode perfectly. I think the spanking - however non-violent it was - was completely out of line. (Even though I understand your reaction.)

    However, it DOES sound like the the parents are not taking responsibility here. They need to raise their children. It's not always easy or fun, but that's what they signed on for when they had children. Other people can do as you did during the computer episode, but spanking, smacking or any kind of violent contact with anyone else's children is absolutely out of line.

    (I'm the mother of a 14-yr-old, and the step-grandparent of a 7-yr-old.)
  25. j26 macrumors 65832


    Mar 30, 2005
    I am really dissappointed with this thread - except for you Raven (Edit - Ravens post deleted).

    They're other peoples children. You can't touch them unless their parents consent.

    Discipline is another thing. You can discipline them, with withdrawal of privileges or the "bold seat" which is a seat they are sent to if they do something wrong. Explain to them why they are being sent there, and what is needed to get off the seat (an apology and a promise not to do it again). This works btw - my sister-in-law uses it on her son, and it works a treat.

    Explain to your sister that there are rules in your house, and if the kids breach them, and are told not to, but still do it, that you expect them to be disciplined by her, or at the very least she will back you up in what you do. but don't hit 'em. I'm not against spanking a child, but I'm not in favour of it except as a last resort.

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