What other discipline is there besides spanking?

Since spanking wasn’t effective with my son, I began learning about parenting with logical consequences. The consequence must be related or appropriate to what the problem is. In other words, you don’t take away TV privileges for coming home late. A logical consequence of coming home late from a friend’s house is not being able to go to a friend’s house! A logical consequence of not riding your bike safely, is not being able to ride your bike!

We lived on a street that was about three blocks long, no cross streets or intersections. This was pretty safe for young children to ride their bikes, skateboard, etc. BJ was about 5 or 6, and I think in his first year of riding a two wheeler. I gave firm instructions that he could ride his bike two blocks to the corner, and then turn around. DO NOT go around the corner because I cannot see you. I repeated this several times. I watched the first time or two, and then went inside and watched from the living room window. It was not long, and he didn’t return. I walked out to the curb… looked down the street… no BJ! Before I could walk the two blocks down to the end, around the corner he came, pedaling hard. Grrrrrrrr …

The consequence for going around the corner, was not being able to ride his bike for a week.

After a week, the bike came out, I went thru the same pep talk. You can ride up and down, up and down, up and down, but DO NOT go around the corner. Within a half hour, he went around the corner. The bike was put up again.

I could not simply put the bike in the garage… as he would try to sneak it out. I had to suspend it in the air with a rope. One day, I found him in the garage with a neighbor kid, standing on a chair, trying to untie the rope. Thankfully, I caught them or they both might have brain damage from a falling bike! Sorry, but another week was added to the consequence for trying to untie the bike. Two more weeks pass without riding his bike. Oh my, how he howled!

Finally, two weeks are up, and BJ gets to ride his bike! Mom is excited too! I get down to his level, look him in the eye and say, “ok son, you can ride your bike, up and down, up and down, up an down, but DO NOT go around the corner! Do you understand? Do you understand that your bike will be put up again if you go around the corner? “ “Yes mom,” he nodded his little head. I breathed a sigh of relief. My precious pumpkin, his sweet smile and the light in his eyes gave me hope. He’s finally learned his lesson! “Go to it son! Enjoy your bike! Remember, DON”T go around the corner!”

“No mama, I won’t.”

An hour later, I look out the window, no BJ. I walk out to the curb, no BJ!    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I walk down and around the corner, there he is, a few houses away, playing in a yard with another child.  Exasperated, I picked up his bike and walked it back to our house. He came running after me, crying the whole way. The tears ran down my face as I took his bike to the basement and suspended it from the ceiling.

The bike stayed in the basement for a whole summer month that time. Parenting is exhausting… but we can’t give up. Their future depends on our persistence. They don’t call it “tough love” for nothing.

dr pers ©2007

8 thoughts on “What other discipline is there besides spanking?

  1. Brian

    I love reading your posts! My parents spanked my sis and me, and although I don’t think it really harmed us in any way, I think this is the preferable way of disciplining a child.

  2. Kerry

    My mother was notorious for the old “you’re grounded missy”. Lucky for me, or maybe not so lucky, she rarely followed through on a grounding. So, this little cub continued to do as she pleased knowing very well that she could out smart the mama bear!

    I grew up in the country in a house my father and grandfather built. It was on a dead end dirt road. Though there were no tumble weeds bouncing and rolling along, it was just like the old west! There were farms all around and our house stood in front of a thick forest. Behind that forrest was the most beautiful river. In the summer time, me and the boys (I was the only little cowgirl), were constantly playing in that river.

    Several times a day, I’d track through the woods and back home. My little meat hooks were far too cold to grab the door handle, so I’d kick the back door with my little brown rubber boots with the rusty trim. Mother eventually appeared, frustrated from the banging, and grabbed me by the scruff to come in and get dry. She often threatened me with a grounding for the rest of the summer if I didn’t stay away from the river. She often made me come in the house and STAY in the house, after the second or third clothing change of the day. It wasn’t so bad really.

    I amused myself easily as a child and still do as an adult. I found myself trying to ride the floor polisher for at least 8 seconds. You remember the kind…..long handle, two rotating polishers spinning in opposite directions, snap on buffers. Wooohooooo, I’d plug it in and sit on the top with the long handle between my thighs, legs straight out……head back, left arm out for balance….. the right hand on the long handle …..too bad no one was ever watching me. I was quite good! I think mother often wondered why I wasn’t miserable. The truth was, staying inside could be fun too. Although she tried to hold back, she ‘d eventually kick me out with that loving, “you little rascal” face, and send me back out.

    I’m sharing this because mother had good intensions when she grounded me. The problem was, she never followed through on the grounding…and I knew she wouldn’t.

    See the rest of Kerry’s post here: https://downrightpersonal.wordpress.com/2007/05/02/alternatives-to-spanking/

  3. Brian

    FYI, I just reread my comment and I wanted to clarify that I was referring to the way you dealt with your child as the “preferable way of disciplining a child”, not spanking. 😉

  4. downrightpersonal Post author

    Hindsight is always better than forsight. As I reflect back on the incident previously mentioned, I would have to admit that putting the bike away for a month, the third time, was severe for the incident and age of my son.

    Many parents, including myself, would do some things differently after the fact. We don’t always have the tools, knowledge and support to get it right the first time. Unfortunately, thats the disadvantage of having one child, you don’t get a second chance!

  5. Alexandra Lynch

    The only time I spanked was when I was dealing with very young ones. Toddlers. With ADHD. I viewed it as being simply that I would rather the thought was “Mama spanked me last time I tried to run out the door without her” than the consequences that come from being a loose and highly impulsive toddler on a busy street.

    As they got some higher brain functions online, we were able to do consequences. But I think at least part of the time a parent’s job is to transmute the consequences of living into a form that a child can understand and learn from instead of being crushed by.


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