Paige at The Baby Dust Diaries has also put up a poll in her sidebar where you can vote on your favorite post of the week. Not saying you have to vote for me, but if you want to … . The winner receives a $25 gift certificate to Wild Mother Arts. Plus, you know, acclaim.
It's been a phenomenal carnival, offering practical alternatives to punishment, primers on what gentle discipline is, and philosophical looks at why and how we practice this method of parenting.
Since April 30 is SpankOut Day USA, I thought I'd also put in another plea to end the practice of spanking and other forms of child hitting.
- If you're curious about the legalities of spanking in the United States, StopHitting.com has a series of maps showing where corporal punishment (corporal meaning "body," so physical punishment) is allowed in day cares, group homes, foster care, public schools, and private homes. You might be surprised to see all the red.
- If you're not sure what the big deal is about spanking, read these facts from research about what spanking does to children (and what it doesn't do, i.e., change behavior positively) and this list of spanking's harmful effects. You can also read through the Carnival day devoted to Choosing not to spank.
- If you want to stop spanking and other harsh discipline but don't know where to start, you can go through the Positive Discipline workbook [pdf] to set long-term goals for your children's behavior and then work out steps to reach those goals; it will also help give an overview of developmentally appropriate behavior at every age. I also recommend reading through the list of Carnival of Gentle Discipline entries for more perspective-altering articles and helpful tips, and reference the list of books at the end of this post.
- If you're a parent in a state that allows corporal punishment in schools, see what you as a parent can do to stop paddling in your child's school.
- If you're a child in a school that allows corporal punishment, read this list of tips for children who have or could be paddled in school. (This is heartbreaking to read.)
- If you want to know the next steps in what you can do to stop spanking, read an argument for why spanking should be banned (it is in more than 20 countries worldwide) and check out this list of what you can do, which includes sample letters for writing to your legislators, school board members, and representatives to ban the selling of instruments for physical punishment and ban corporal punishment in schools. You could also write to introduce a ban on corporal punishment in general. Find and write to your (U.S.) lawmakers here by entering your ZIP code at the top.
- If you want to read more, here are some articles I've written on spanking and coercive discipline vs. gentle discipline and respect:
- If you need some good books on the right kind of discipline, try these:
- Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason, by Alfie Kohn — if you'd like a general (mind-blowing) overview on why rewards and punishments are harmful and ineffective, and what could be put in their place
- Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy, by Naomi Aldort — if you need to work through your own issues in how you were raised so that you can respond to your children differently
- Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen — if you want to connect with your child on the level that makes sense to them: through play!
- Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka — if you feel like your child is more intense than the average
- Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté — if you have a preteen or teenager who seems to be pulling away
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish — if you need concrete suggestions for improving your communication with your children
If you're someone who has used spanking and other physical punishment, SpankOut Day is a day to try a different method. Remember to stop and breathe before responding to your children's behavior today, and try to figure out the reasons behind their actions. You might try Naomi Aldort's SALVE technique as you practice Silent self-inquiry before you react, shift your Attention to your child to understand your child's perspective, Listen to what your child is saying and then listen some more, Validate your child's feelings by repeating them back without dramatizing, and then Empower your child to resolve the situation by showing your trust.
If you are genuinely upset by your children's behavior today, try showing your frustration without blaming your children. Let them know that you're feeling bad about the situation, and work with them to resolve it.
Finally, try a time-in instead of a time-out. If you're having a particularly hard time today with your child, try scooping your child up and snuggling together in a comfy chair. Take the time to reconnect and show that your love continues, despite the circumstances. When you're both feeling calmer, then it's time to talk through the situation.
Remember, just because you were spanked as a child or just because you've used spanking on your children in the past doesn't mean you have to continue the tradition. Today is your chance to try something new and find a way of disciplining that honors both you and your children.
If you are someone who agrees that spanking should not be used on children, take this SpankOut Day as a call to action. Start a conversation about spanking with friends, post a link to SpankOut Day on Facebook, recommend some positive discipline books on your church's message board (done that!), or write to your legislators to encourage strengthening of child-abuse laws. The fact that acceptance levels of corporal punishment have changed so much over time (via Authentic Parenting) gives me hope that we can continue pushing the trend toward no physical punishment of children. Lend your voice to protect those who are vulnerable.