I believe that we are not born with the programed feeling of ANGER.
I believe it is 100% a LEARNED behavior.
I think babies and toddlers can be frustrated and sad, but not ANGRY.
Anger is something observed. A loss of one’s self dignity. An inner rage, that is stemmed from emotional overload and is perpetuated by practice and learned from observance.
Scary when you think about how your kids learn most of their responses to circumstances from parents. Yes, they are born with their own potential and personality… but a lot of what we learn and how we choose, and what we choose and how we act is learned from our parents.
So we’d better be careful I think. 🙂
That leads me to a rather controversial subject.
Something that is sensitive to people in some circles I’ve been a part of.
What is it?
I was recently chatting with a fellow comrade in Motherhood about the effect on spanking.
What was interesting, is later that day, I very mysteriously got in contact with a college student, taking an English writing course and asked if I would answer some questions about spanking.
I don’t believe in coincidences. Every meeting, every moment, holds value to our lives.
I conceded to the English student, and we chatted back and forth on Facebook for the next 45 minutes while she asked questions and I answered.
I have not since heard from the student, but what we talked about and the things that I wrote to her have stayed with me.
It is an interesting process really… this business of writing… and how it affects what stays fresh in our minds. 🙂
Did you know if you write something down, you are twice as likely to remember it?
I know…. you’d think we would do it more! ha!
Anyway….. she asked me these questions:
“Do you think that spanking is effective?”
I had to think on that. My answer?
Well, I had to clarify her question. Did she mean effective to shocking the child and possibly inflicting harm? Or does it work to actually change behavior?
She answered that she wanted to know if I thought it helped change behavior.
My answer, “NO.”
No. I do not think spanking changes behavior. I think it sends a message. And the message is this one.
“I am bigger than you. I can hurt you. And you ticked me off, and I’m going to inflict pain on your body because I can. And you better remember it!”
Am I not right?
I have seen women at the playground literally abusing their children. One women in particular always comes to mind…. a heavier woman, and tall as well, who saw her son hit a smaller child on the playground in a toddler’s spat. Something silly really. Easily something simple distraction would have stopped. But this woman, got up from her shady spot, stomped (yes, stomped on the grass…?…) over to this little boy, he had to be about 3, and what I noticed first…… was the boy. He was wincing and sheilding his face before she even arrived at the woodchip area…. THAT made me cringe. But then she grabbed his arm and flipped him around, and proceeded to publicly “spank” that kid on the bottom about 4 times. His little body was kinked forward with each blow from her large hand, and I bet you money he had some welts. She put him back down on the ground (he was pretty much dangling at this point) and bent down as far as she could to be at eye level with him, and again, he was wincing and pulling back. She said, “That was NOT nice. We don’t hit other people! I don’t want to see you do that again, or you’ll be sorry!”
All the other mom’s at the playground were shocked.
That my friends, is abuse. I don’t care who you are. That was open, blatant abuse. And not only that, but what in the heck was she trying to teach??? We don’t hit….. by hitting? I’m telling you. Spanking is hypocrisy 99% of the time. People that spank, often do it when the other child is doing wrong. How is spanking RIGHT? EVER????
So no. I don’t care how you put it. Spanking does NOT teach better behavior.
This English student also asked me,
“Were you spanked as a child? And do you think it helped you behave better?”
My immediate answer,
“Yes. I was spanked as a child. And NO. I don’t think it improved my behavior. All it taught me was that when my parents got mad, when I did something wrong, they felt they should hit me. I knew it was coming. But I didn’t really care. So no. It didn’t make me want to make better choices. It just made me realize that my parents would give me attention and emotional energy when I did stuff that was wrong. No biggie.”
Then she asked me the PIVOTAL question,
“Have you spanked your children. And if so, what did you hope to teach them?”
My answer after breathing deeply……
“Yes. I have spanked my children. I am happy to report that I have not spanked out of anger for over 3 years, as I have learned about myself and my poor performance in that area of parental emotional rage, and tried very hard to change it. I have spanked once or twice since then, but it has been a controlled choice. I allow my children to choose their consequences and receiving a spanking is a choice we have offered in the past. We thought that is was not going to change behavior, as much as it is a simply SHOCK to their awareness that this is something they don’t want again. But, in the past year, my husband and I have talked more about this topic, and believe that no matter how you put it, spanking does not improve behavior. OUR example is the ONLY thing that will improve their behavior at such young ages. How we speak to them, how we deal with them when they are doing something out of line, is ultimately what they will do. So working on ourselves has become a priority now. I wish I would have come to this realization earlier, but the journey has been good.”
And since that conversation about 3 weeks ago, I noticed that I am a LOT more understanding with my children. I talk softer. Sure, every now and then I get a little gobbed up with emotion and talk a little too loud and have yelled once or twice…but you know, knives, and super glue, and fire….. and in the summer, swimming pools and trampoline safety…. there are times to yell I think. Safety being the CHIEF time to yell. But anyway.
The point I hope to make today, is that anger is learned.
And you CAN change. And taking anger out on kids is not going to help anyone. Most of all, not them.
When you want to hurt your child, you are simply saying you are BIGGER and more powerful.
But when you truly want to seem bigger and more powerful, let them know just how powerful THEY are, by speaking kind words to them. Helping them know you believe that they can make better choices. Tell them each day that they are awesome, and that you are grateful for the lessons they teach you.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. I believe that with all my heart.
But its a CHOICE.
What will you choose?
xo- Robyn Whitworth