It has come to my attention that in order to effectively discipline a child, you must first discipline yourself.
The Toddler has started to yell at us. Loudly. First, it was just “NO!” Then it was “HUSH!” And now … it’s something that truly makes me cringe. He has learned the phrase “SHUT UP!” and he did not learn it at home. As irritated as I sometimes get at my husband I don’t think I have ever told him to shut up. Mostly because I feel that it would be ineffective.
I did once yell “F*#K YOU!” at him in front of our child, but that was a long time ago and it was a very dark day in my personal history. It was one of those moments that still makes my stomach knot up when I think about it. Luckily, the Toddler was still just an infant and therefore incapable of repeating it. Thank goodness.
We have tried different methods of discipline. We are spankers — but that form of punishment is reserved for major offenses or used as a last resort. For the past several days, we have tried to get him to stop saying “SHUT UP!” by firm reprimands, time outs, reasoning, calm reminders, and finally, spanking.
Usually spanking works. Not this time.
Yesterday, he was spanked three times in a row for saying “SHUT UP!” By the third time, I told my husband that it looks like our child is some kind of masochist in the making. Today, the cycle began again when I picked him up from daycare. He said it and I looked at him with that crazy look I get when he does something that he knows is wrong. He immediately said “I sorry.”
He looked at me with those huge round eyes and as he mouthed “I sorry” again I wanted to just burst into tears or ignore the whole thing or tell him “It’s okay, as long as you’re sorry.” But instead I had to look him in his little eyes and tell him that I knew he was sorry, but I had to spank him anyway.
Then, approximately 10 minutes later, he did that exact thing again. And then AGAIN. During dinner. I calmly removed him from his highchair, looked him in the eye as he said “I sorry. I sorry Mommy,” and then, I spanked him. For the third time. For the second damn day in a row.
During times like these I question myself as a parent. Am I doing the right thing? Am I causing permanent damage to him or breaking his spirit or preventing him from expressing himself? He DID say he was sorry …
The truth is, I know in my gut that even though it’s awful and I hate it, I am doing what is best for my son. There are a lot of times when I want to throw in the towel and just let things slide, but then I think about all the people I know who are obnoxious, bratty, inconsiderate, or just plain crappy and I bet it’s because their mothers were lazy.
Being a not-lazy mother is really tiring. I’m just saying.