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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Spanking and yelling -- are they really the same thing?



Brush your teeth," I say for the umpteenth time. My preschooler responds by continuing to ignore me, Mom_yelling even though I've already taken away his privilege of listening to the Wiggles on the way to school. He's off in his own world, playing with the hand towel or whatever thing he can use as a way to stall. Never mind that his dallying makes him late to preschool and me late for work.

Finally I do the only thing that seems to get his attention. "BRUSH YOUR TEETH!" I shout.He might cry a little, but it works. I feel bad, he feels bad, but the teeth get brushed and we make it out the door. But hey, I congratulate myself for keeping my home a no-spank zone.

Now the experts are telling me that I'm no better than the parents who used to whack us in advance for all the misbehaving we might do that day.

"I’ve worked with thousands of parents and I can tell you, without question, that screaming is the new spanking,” said Amy McCready, the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, which teaches parenting skills in classes, individual coaching sessions and an online course. Her comments appear in a New York Times story about how today's parents, who would never lay a hand on their children, resort to yelling because they feel at a loss for a disciplinary method that works.

I have to admit I feel their pain. I have read What to Expect - the Toddler Years and came away frustrated. Their answer to nearly everything is to give in or negotiate. Child won't get ready for school? Then you need to get up even earlier to allow for all their dawdling. Child won't eat dinner? Then you have to fix something else. Child refuses to poop in the potty at nearly age 4? Then you need to just let THEM decide when they are ready.

Now comes this story that says we can't even raise our voices. One of the suggestions offered was for Momma to take a time out. That's fine, but what if you do that and Junior STILL won't brush his teeth?

I don't like to yell. But sometimes it's the only thing left. And I don't always have time to go create some kind of crafty reward chart or some other cute gimmicky thing. I do have stickers that I give on days when my son is being exceptionally good, but sometimes children are just going to test you to see how much they can get away with.

I also fear that in worrying about the occasional shouting, we are raising a generation of kids who can't deal with any challenge or adversity. In the real world, not everyone gets a trophy. Some bosses correct your work with red pens. Just showing up for work is not enough to earn a bonus. If that's all you do, your boss might even yell.

Lisa Buie, Times mom


[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:03am]


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