Quitting spanking is possible. How often you spank your child, the reasons for which you spank, whether your parents spanked you and how entrenched your belief system and self-talk is in spanking are some determining factors for the level of difficulty you will have with stopping spanking. Whatever it takes for you to stop spanking, I urge you to do the work. Surprisingly, when I share how to stop spanking your child, you’ll find that spanking is not about your child but about your own self-control.
Are you up for the challenge?
Dictionaries define spanking as hitting, striking, and smacking. Sit with yourself for a bit and think back to the times you hit your child. I truly believe while you reflect, a piece of you feels something isn’t right about your actions.
Research shows spanking has multiple long-term negative effects that are not worth the short-term fix that spanking gives. If you are unaware of the effects spanking can have on your child, I encourage you to read 10 Reasons to Stop Spanking That Are Backed By Research.
After deciding to quit spanking, it took my husband and me 3 months to stop. It floored me it took this long. After a while, it literally scared me. The awareness of the fact that I could not go cold turkey on this spanking deal, made me realize how much self-control I lacked in the area. While surveying other parents who stopped spanking, they had the same experience. Just know, quitting is a process.
The Benefits of Quitting Spanking
- The parent-child relationship, bond, and connection strengthens.
- Your child is not behaving out of fear.
- Your child expresses their emotions.
- You teach your child how you expect them to behave.
- You model self-control for your child.
- Your child does not feel the need to lie or sneak.
- Your children will be more emotionally intelligent.
- The child will not grow up believing that people who love you hit you or vice versa.
Please Use My Experience and Research
Being vulnerable about this topic pains me greatly, and honestly, I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I ever hit my child. I share because I want to give you hope that you can quit. Don’t give up on yourself. If my vulnerability spares one family from the effects of spanking, it is worth it.
After much research, I figured out what I needed to do to stay in control of myself. I have gone back and identified how I finally stopped spanking my child. These are the steps and this is the information I wish I had when I stopped spanking.
According to psychologists, the key to properly managing your anger is to distance yourself physically and emotionally from the situation and get control of your negative thoughts that are dominating the situation. Eventually, replace the negative thoughts with new thoughts, so the old dialogue no longer plays.
How To Stop Spanking Your Child
#1. Promise yourself that no matter what your child does, you will NOT spank. No exceptions!
- Do not break this promise to yourself.
- Make a commitment to do whatever you have to do with yourself to get through the anger and fear.
- Get an accountability partner. Tell them your plan to stop spanking and you will need them to be someone you can lean on during the first couple of months.
- In the beginning, do not worry about the consequences you give your child for their behavior. Just focus on not spanking. Your main priority right now is to rewire your brain. When your first instinct is no longer spanking, then you can think about the consequences you will use instead of spanking.
- Switch your mindset about behavior. If your focus is on obedience, then you use fear and force to get it. If your focus is on raising a child who does right whether your present or not, then you use connection, coaching, and empathy.
- Have a discussion with your partner and come to an agreement about spanking. If they will not agree, you will have to decide how important the topic is to you. You can still quit.
#2. When you get triggered, drop what you’re doing and remove yourself from the situation.
Sidenote: You need not leave the room unless it would be best for you and your child. Just make sure you are at a viewing distance from which you can’t hit your child.
- While you are removing yourself, say nothing damaging to the child and don’t raise your voice.
- You can respectfully say at an appropriate volume before you go:
- “I need to think about how I will handle this. I will take a moment to calm down now.”
- “It’s hard for me to believe you pushed your brother down after we have discussed how you should treat him. I need to think about your behavior, and we will discuss it later when I have calmed down. In the meantime, I expect you to treat him with nothing but love.“
- “I need some time to think. I don’t want to say or do anything I will regret. In the meantime, I need you to sit on the love seat until I tell you otherwise.”
- “I am too mad right now to talk about this. I’m taking 5 minutes. While I’m doing that, you will be on your absolute best behavior.”
- The important thing about anger is not to act while you’re angry.
- Notice your thoughts. When you make yourself aware of your feelings and emotions, you are one step closer to managing them.
- Breathe. In through the nose, count to 3, out through the mouth, slowly. Again.
#3. Have a plan of what you will do while you gain control of your emotions.
- Some options and ideas for releasing fear and anger:
- Shake your hands out.
- Hug yourself by wrapping your arms around yourself and trying to reach your shoulder blades.
- Splash cool water on your face.
- Put on music and dance.
- Look at a baby picture of your child.
- Imagine yourself hugging your child.
- **Your job is to feel the anger, fear, sadness or disappointment but not act on it. This does not mean you don’t have a right to feelings or that they are not important. It means you are in control of how you react to your emotions. You are teaching your child a more important lesson than you would have had you stayed on the scene. You are modeling self-control. High-Five!
#4. Decide what and how you need to think when you remove yourself.
Anger is an emotion that hijacks your thoughts, words, and actions. If you continue to think aggressive thought after aggressive thought, the anger will turn into rage. Therefore, have a plan to replace the angry thoughts. Use mantras, affirmations, and Bible verses to change your hostile mindset to a healthy mindset.
You can say these aloud. It is fine for your child to hear you. You are modeling what it takes to have self-control.
Here are a few of my faves:
- This is not an emergency.
- (Child’s Name) is not my enemy.
- Only love today.
- (Child’s Name) needs my love most when he is at his worst.
- I won’t take this personally. This is not about me.
- I can handle this with dignity.
- How do I want (Child’s Name) to remember me 15 years from now?
- I will love (Child’s Name) unconditionally.
- I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
- Name all the things you love about the child.
- I can quit spanking!
- (Child’s Name) is acting like a child because he is a child.
- How does (Child’s Name) see this situation?
- My triggers will not control me.
- What does (Child’s Name) need of me right now?
**Repeat Steps 2-4 until you know you are calm.
How do you know you are calm?:
- Your breathing has slowed.
- Your muscles have relaxed.
- You have positive thoughts about your child.
- Your child is not your enemy.
- You can talk to your child about changing the behavior without shaming them or raising your voice.
#5. Take a moment to see the situation from your child’s perspective and reflect on what happened.
- Just know, research shows that very few parents take time to make a plan and reflect on their actions. Most are reacting and responding off the cuff. You are taking your parenting to the next level. This should feel good. Your child is blessed to have you.
- All behavior is communication. What could cause your child to behave in this manner?
- How does (Child’s Name) feel? How can I help my child with their feelings? They can not learn from you while they are feeling angry or anxious. It is best for everyone to get to calmness before you discuss the inappropriate behavior.
#6. Keep a list of behaviors that are triggering you.
- You will want to reflect on your list in your downtime or alone time.
- Here is a list of questions to consider about these triggers:
- What was I thinking about previous to the behavior that triggered me? negative or positive thoughts?
- What was I doing when the misbehavior occurred?
- How will I use natural or logical consequences?
- What language did I use when the incident occurred? What will I say next time? The same or different.
- What will I say to (Child’s Name) about his behavior? How will I teach or model a new behavior? How can I get his input on coming up with a better plan if the incident occurs again?
- Start to create a plan of how you will respond the next time you are triggered.
The Challenges To Expect When You Stop Spanking
- If you have used spanking as a punishment for quite some time, you may feel that your kids are getting away with too much or your consequences aren’t harsh enough. You may have fear you will raise a hellion! These are the thoughts that need replacing.
- Prepare yourself. There’s a good chance things will get worse before they get better. The human brain prefers the familiar over the nonfamiliar. No spanking is new for your child. The brain would prefer being hit over recalibrating. Scary right!
- Most children have a lot of emotions pinned up from the spanking, and they now feel safer to release them. It is not uncommon to experience crying and fits for a bit. Don’t mistake this as “a child who doesn’t get spanked goes nuts”. Give empathy and patience.
- Unfortunately, if you come from a family who spanks, prepare for them to give their opinion about your decision. Especially when your child acts like a child. Nevertheless, do not give in and hit your child because of pressure from others. Furthermore, in the beginning months of quitting spanking, it is best to limit your time spent with those who think you need to spank.
- Ultimately, it is harder work to think of ways to teach your child through loving guidance instead of controlling them through spanking. If you spank out of anger and rage, it is even harder work to retrain your brain and hand. Not spanking is definitely taking the high road. The benefits and personal development are positively endless!
- You may fall off of the wagon and spank. It took Chris and me 3 months to stop spanking. You can track your progress on a calendar. Give yourself a check for each day you don’t spank. Try to go further each time. If you fall off the wagon, do not give up. Tomorrow is a new day. A year from now, you won’t believe you were ever a spanker.
Call to Action
Nowhere in this article did I say it was going to be easy to quit spanking which is another proof that spanking is not about the child. Obviously, it is about the parent blowing off steam. Therefore, it is worth every ounce of your effort, energy, and personal development to create a family culture that does not use corporal punishment. When your children are grown, do you want them to remember how you spanked them to enforce obedience? Or would you rather them remember how you loved them through the hard times and modeled and taught them the behavior you desired.
Get Support To Stop Spanking
If you would like some support in quitting spanking, email me at [email protected] Let’s get on the phone and see if I am a fit for you. Sometimes we are better at things when we do them together. Remember, it is stronger to ask for help than to do nothing.
To be notified about new posts and receive the weekly newsletter, subscribe to This -N- That Parenting Tribe.
Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours! Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS
Quitting Spanking Series: