Spanking

Whether you agree with spanking or not, it’s important to know the actual science behind it. I mentioned spanking briefly in my Tantrums blog (Here) .

Let’s go more in-depth about spanking.

When I was little, I remember only being spanked once or twice. These spankings came from my father (my parents divorced when I was four) who my sister and I would visit on occasion. I was probably around 5 or 6 when I was spanked for leaving my grandparent’s yard. My dad had told me to stay inside the fence, and being the inquisitive person that I am, not understanding his reasoning and him not being around often, I was inclined not to listen. When I was back at my grandparents house, he proceeded to take me into the bathroom and spank me. I don’t know if he explained why I was being punished or not, but I remember my butt stinging and being emotionally hurt that he hit me. I was always more emotional (whether it be happy or sad, etc) then other children I knew, so the spanking didn’t really help. I’ve heard people say things like, “well, without my daddy spanking me, I would have been worse!” … did they ever stop to think that maybe they were so “bad” because they got spanked in the first place?

Misbehaving or rebelliousness is normal for children. They test the limits because they want to see what they can accomplish. Kids don’t even know “limits” unless they are explained to them anyways. Words are stronger than any spanking, the parents just have to be adamant and strong when it comes to setting rules. The rules should be able to be reasoned. If there is no reason for a rule, it can’t be explained to the child. Telling a child to “not do something” just because a parent is lazy, is not a good reason to set a rule.

Example: if a parent tells their child that they can’t go outside, there should be a good reason accompanying that rule- “you can’t go outside because there’s a thunderstorm” instead of just “you can’t go outside”. The child might whine about it and whining can cause some people to think they require a spanking, when really they just don’t understand why that can’t go outside. Sure, this causes more work for the parents, having to explain everything, but how else will the child learn? (And who said raising a child was easy?) They are new to this world, and everything around them is a chance to express themselves.

“…there is a worrying body of research suggesting that parents who spank will later use harsher forms of punishment.” (Article Here)

It’s important to remember that in the long-run, explaining things to children rather than using brute force is much more successful. They will be less inclined to have behavioral issues and the parents won’t feel like tyrants for beating their kids. With science, a whole lot of things can be accomplished, we just have to listen and learn.

Sleep

Timeline: Sleep Basics

One of the most important things for a child to get is sleep. Without enough sleep, their brain development can be stunted. They tend to be cranky and moody, and possible long term issues might arise if they constantly get less sleep then needed. Of course, this happens to adults too!

Babies are affected: Sleep Deprivation in Babies

Adults are affected: Sleep Loss in Adults

Sleep Training and How We did it:

I can say confidently, WE ARE NOT SLEEP DEPRIVED ANYMORE.

When Lillian was younger, about four months old, we started sleep training. She was in a bassinet or slept with us (when no other sleep could be accomplished) until we deemed her ready for a crib.

She cried for about an hour the first three nights. A few more nights of whining after that and soon she was sleeping alone like a champ. Of course, there would be nights when she would cry, but she always calmed down and got good sleep. I was in an a panic half of the time during the first few nights, thinking she would hate us forever for making her so upset. (I was completely wrong.) Sometimes I would stand at her door, (we left it mostly closed) listening in to make sure she was really okay. We would check on her every now and then, but we also had a video monitor which was very helpful when she got older. I can admit, without my extremely insightful husband, I would have just slept with her. It’s not easy hearing your baby cry like that, but in the long run and for her health, it was the best way.

She now takes naps and sleeps in her crib wonderfully. Some nights she even asks to go to bed. Without sleep training and enduring those hard nights, she would not be as adapted to ‘night-night’ time. Not everyone can do it the way we did, but I recommend training your baby to get used to sleeping alone. Not only does she get better sleep, I get better sleep. My husband gets better sleep, and all of us are not grumpy when we wake up. Now, at 22 months old, she won’t even take a nap with me (which we used to do before she turned one). She just tosses and turns and whines until I put her in her own bed with her baby doll lovey. I get a little sad that my baby is really growing up, but it’s good that she likes her own bed.

It’s great! No more worrying about sleep.

Societal and Social Stigmas:

These are placed on many parents, and some parents (depending on how they grew up or who they associate with) are more prone to listen to these stigmas. Sometimes that means striving to make all social occasions whether it be partying or family gatherings. Sometimes it’s putting a parent’s want over a child’s need (like skipping nap-time because of a previously planned engagement).

The pressure felt it real, but physical and mental health (especially for the child) are more important. It does no good to take a screaming baby out to a party and expect to have a good time. I mention this because a lot of people in my generation (I suppose we are referred to as ‘millennials’) are trying to do everything all at once: get the great career, get the great house, the great partner, the great baby, the great whatever, all while bringing the baby along to a drinking soiree with a few fellow baby-mama’s at 8P.M. when the baby should really be asleep. (This is just an example of one circumstance that could arise.)

I used to be there- hoping that I could live my own life while also giving proper care to a baby, but all I found was failure. In truth, I was being selfish. I was not able to party all night, then get up at 5A.M. with a baby (if she had slept all night) and be the best mom during my day as a SAHM. It was not healthy, and it was not conducive to my relationships. I started getting over-tired and down right depressed. I didn’t like living that way, and maybe some people can do it? But being a parent doesn’t only involve posting pictures and chatting about how awesome the baby is, it’s more- so much more.

I choose to spend most of my time with my husband and my toddler because I love them and I love me. My values and my priorities have changed since I tried to be a party-person and a good-mom all at once. Both is not possible, and that’s okay. Frankly, I find that it’s good, at least for me. I try to remember that preconceived notions about parenthood are often incorrect. I didn’t know how difficult being a parent could be. I was unaware a colicky baby meant crying for hours and hours with no reprieve. I was unaware that taking care of a human being would take so much out of me.

I was also unaware that I would gain so much insight and so much love.

Lillian is worth all of the turmoil I personally went through, whether that be mentally or physically. And without all of the personal work I have done during this journey, I would not be this content presently. I am always working towards my values, and trying my hardest to not get upset when things just don’t go my way. Life often doesn’t go the way we wanted, and that is okay too.

 

Tantrums

Parenting is a learning process in every realm of life, this is just another hurdle to overcome.

My daughter is now 22 months old. With her birthday coming up, I’ve noticed that the “terrible twos” are slowly and sporadically becoming a thing.

The best example of this is when we go shopping. Whether it be grocery or retail, she wants to walk. She loves being independent and walking is one of her ways of exuding this. As a SAHM, I often bring her to stores (or other places like the the library) just to get out of the house and experience different things. Before now, she would usually ride in the cart or her stroller and be fine with me pushing her around. However, as of late, she has not been content with Mama doing all of the walking. “Walk!” is often a shouted word at some point during our excursions. I’ll explain and say something along the lines of “Sweetie, you can’t walk right now, but how about you help mommy pick out some groceries.” Sometimes this works, for at least a little while, until she sees something interesting (like shoes…Oh, this girl loves her some shoes) and wants to walk some more. (I mean, shoes ARE for walking…)

Herein lies the problem of parenthood discipline. I find myself getting frustrated with her. I often compose myself before we start having a shouting match, but her attitude becomes intolerable. She will continue to yell and whine when I tell her that she needs to “calm down” or “you won’t get a snack if you keep yelling”. These tactics don’t always work when she’s already on a tantrum roll. Even when I ask her last resort things like, “do you want to hold onto mama’s phone?”, she yells “NOOooooo!” then scrunches her face and arches her body in frustration. I get it, she’s not even two and she understands a whole bunch of words but can’t express herself. I understand that it’s difficult being confused in this huge strange world. What frustrates me is purely selfish: I don’t want others to see her tantrum and think negative things, I don’t want to have to leave the store, I want her to be happy 24/7 – but these are just unrealistic thoughts. And on the other hand, if I give in to her tantrum, it only prolongs the issue.

Example: I once let her out of the shopping cart to explore the store. After a few minutes of her staying near me, she soon saw an exploring opportunity and was off. I was forced to run after her and leave the cart unattended. I saw that she was happy being “free”, but running into people and pulling things off of shelves was not good. She screamed when I picked her and people looked wearily in my direction, but they can just shut up. I have to remember that I’m a parent doing my best, and Lillian is an almost two-year old testing her independence. I don’t spank, it’s proven not to work and I know it would only make the situation worse. (Plus, I’d feel extremely guilty. I will most likely write another post about spanking, but here is a quote from a science-based article- “They found that spanking was associated with 13 out of a total of 17 negative outcomes they assessed, including increased aggression and behavioral and mental health problems as well as reduced cognitive ability and self-esteem.”Article Here. ) I explained to her what I was doing and then I gave her an option. She could sit in the basket or go home. She chose the basket (with a bit more yelling–hence prolonged issue and next time she might not be so compliant because I let her out), but she calmed down and we didn’t have to leave the store. I was spent after this episode and utterly appalled at the situation because she hadn’t really thrown a big tantrum in a store before.

Later, I realized that my feelings weren’t important during that moment. What mattered was making the right decision (which is not always the easiest) and making the circumstance better for all involved. Each and every situation that arises while being a parent is a lesson, whether it’s hidden or yelling at you in the face.