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Why I Only Spank One of My Kids

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I only spank one of my kids.

There. I said it.

No, I don’t love one child more than the other. I love them both the same amount, yet very differently—because they are very different kiddos. I love them so much, in fact, that I have given serious thought to what type of consequences will work best to help teach each of them and mold them into respectable, amazing human beings.

No, one child does not make me more angry than the other. There are times when each of my children makes me so mad, frustrated and overwhelmed that I can hardly speak. They are kids, after all. They specialize in bringing these emotions out. But, the manner in which I discipline my children has nothing to do with how angry I am. I don’t punish them because I am mad, I punish them to teach them.

For me, spanking was not "last resort" discipline. It was my initial plan.

To explain, I should probably back up a bit. I grew up in a household of occasional spankings. It seems odd to say I grew up with a positive experience with spankings, but when I look back on my childhood, I feel that they were used as an efficient and appropriate form of punishment. I got them. I hated them. They were used appropriately. They worked. I never considered not using them on my own children.

No one would say that any two kids are exactly the same ... so it only makes sense that the most effective discipline would be custom-fit to each child.

Flash-forward a couple of decades and I assumed I would discipline my first child similarly. It didn’t take long to see that, for my son, spankings were not the most effective way to help him learn.

He was a social critter from the start and loved to be around others. He also was very content to sit and play, or be held. He didn’t push the limits and when he got close to causing trouble, a firm “no” was all it took for him to stop.

When he did need punishment, nothing was more impactful than a timeout or loss of privilege. It gave him time to think, calm down and, hopefully, learn. Plus, time spent away from others was about the worst thing he could imagine, so he would do just about anything to avoid it.

My daughter was born a few years later and right from the gate she was a different breed. She learned to climb before she could crawl, and was always moving and exploring. Her sense of adventure was apparent early and it brought her frequently to precarious and sometimes dangerous positions.

I learned quickly that when a 15-month-old repeatedly disobeys and climbs over the couch to explore the blades of the pedestal fan, a timeout does not fully communicate the urgent message of, “Stop! This is dangerous and you could lose a finger.” A spanking was necessary.

No one would say that any two kids are exactly the same. We encourage our littles to be themselves and try to nurture their individuality. We smile at their quirky character traits and celebrate their unique gifts. We tailor how we show each of them love, so it only makes sense that the most effective discipline would be custom-fit to each child.

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