Friday, January 19, 2007

Time Out vs. The Corner

With some people agitating in California to outlaw the spanking of children under age 3, my mind has again been drawn to the idea of and my beliefs about corporal punishment:

First let me say that the only time a child under age three deserves a spanking is when their behavior will cause them bodily harm. Swatting a hand as it nears a hot stove, a good butt swat when your kid takes off in a parking lot--those are reasons to spank a toddler. Spanking a toddler for bad behavior seems a bit heavy-handed. Again, my opinion, but it shouldn't be law.

When we tried putting Marley in time out, she would get put in one of the chairs we have beside our chess table. She would be free to wail and thrash around, pitching more of fit usually in the chair than she did to get put in time out. Finally I got fed up and thought back to what my parents did to me when I was bad, but not bad enough for a spanking: The Dreaded Corner.

Standing in the corner ranks as the least enjoyable of all punishments. Being sent to my room meant I could play with toys, read, etc. The corner was 5-30 mins depending on if my Dad forgot about me or not (he'll deny ever forgetting, but since I'm a parent now, I know he's fibbing or fooling himself or at his advanced age has forgotten) of nothingness. I stood there, forbidden to lean against the wall, yet commanded to have my nose touch the wall in the corner. After about 30 seconds of that, the novelty wears off. It becomes torture. A kid wants to run around and be active, and being in the corner is not active. It is its antithesis. Marley hates the corner more than she hates a spanking. Sometimes she'll pitch a fit and refuse to get in the corner. I go put her in her room and when she finally calms down, I still make her stand in the corner. When she finally does it (sometimes hours later) then I know that she will have modified her behavior and learned from her poor actions.

I do not think time out in a chair is effective. It's too easy. Standing in the corner with no stimuli other than knowing that a cobweb is touching your forehead is great punishment.

I reserve spankings as a last resort.

four year olds are like teenagers in little bodies. All of the attitude, none of it earned.


Anonymous said...

Growing up (in a galaxy far, far away) the punishment of choice (in schools nonetheless) was standing up with your arms straight up. That is even worse than the corner. During my parents' days, they were made (again, in school) to kneel on broken pecan shells.

There are various forms of physical abuse (causing someone physical discomfort/pain on purpose), hitting is only one of them...

Here is hoping we can all find a way to get through to each other which does not involve shades of violence. I am not saying it's easy.

parent of 2, in my mid-30s

brent said...

I find shaking to be effective.

swampbaby said...

Our time-out IS the corner. We don't make them touch their nose, but they have to stand there facing the corner, quietly, and the time-out doesn't officially start until they are doing it the right way. Then they stand there for however many minutes they are old. If they talk, sit down, play, etc., then it starts over. It is definitely a battle of the wills, but even Jaxon has learned it is easier to just do it right the first time than to pitch a big fit about it (although he still does - they've just gotten smaller). But I agree, there is something about being sentenced to a corner that causes much weeping and wailing and knashing of teeth.

tara said...

Sorry - type-o. I meant gnashing.

Clay said...

I have a 2 1/2 year old and this is what I do. He sits facing the wall while I count (to tenty if it's something small, to fourty if it's bigger). We then talk about what he did wrong, and sing the mistake song, which goes "I made a mistake, but that doesn't make a bad person. I made a mistake, but that doesn't make me bad. I have learned one thing I didn't know before: that way won't work, got to try a little more. I made a mistake, but I'm doing the best I can." I know it sounds wimpy, but I think it gets the point across without making him hate me. Once in a while I'll ask him, "Is daddy nice or mean" after I punish him, and he'll usally say I'm nice.

Also, I don't let him cry to get what he wants. If he's crying for something I say, "take a deep breath," and sometimes he will and that will stop his crying. If he keeps crying, I take him outside until he stops.