Is It a Coincidence I’ve Never Spanked My Children and Yet They are Known for How Well Behaved They Are? “Misbehavior” is a Signal a Child is Hungry, Tired, Bored, Lonely and/or Sick

I recently made a video on my YouTube channel for Family Friendly Daddy Blog where I asked everyone for help, tongue-in-cheek, about what I should do since it is normal for parents to spank their children, yet I never have, explaining that my children are known for how well-behaved they are.

Even just this past week, my 7 year-old son was invited to go to Chili’s with another boy his age in our neighborhood. The first thing the boy’s dad told my wife and I when they returned from dinner was this:

“Your son is so well-behaved! I’m not used to that. Usually, I’m spending my time getting the boys to settle down. But I never had any issues with your son as the friend my son chose to take along! He’s great!”

And for both all of Kindergarten and 1st grade, whenever the teachers have given us feedback it’s always the same:

“He is a very well-behaved boy. And smart, too! Yes, I have to remind him not to talk to his friends during class at times, but he truly is a model student.”

As for my daughter, she just turned 2 years old, but she is also known for being a bright, yet mild-mannered little girl.

So here’s the question:

Is it just a coincidence that both of my children are known for their good behavior; and as their parents, my wife nor I have ever spanked them?

It raises the question of how necessary spanking actually is:

If what I’ve been doing as a parent has yielded a well balanced, well behaved children, what is the point of spanking them?

But if I’m not spanking my children in order to get them to behave, then what am I doing? Because, no, my kids were not just born with some magic gene where they automatically know how to behave.

And granted, they still require much teaching and direction regarding how to behave. But I provide that for them, instead of physically striking them. I accept they are still kids, too.

So I don’t freak out when my son leaves a note on the couch for his sister, with a picture of her with an “x” through it, saying, “go home away“.

The way I see it, it’s not a matter so much of disciplining my children. Instead, it’s about proactively managing their physical, social, and psychological needs.

It’s a simple 5 step program that I invented years ago. When a young child is perceived to be “misbehaving”, I recognize they don’t yet have the emotional intelligence to verbally communicate what they really need. I interpret that “misbehavior” as a predictable signal or warning to the parent that they are at least one of the following:

Hungry

Tired

Bored

Lonely

Sick

So as their parent, I am constantly prepared to feed my children, help them get to sleep, find a way for them to entertain themselves, socialize with them, or restore them to good health.

It’s true that my method isn’t the norm. Only 20% of parents worldwide are like me, in that they don’t spank their children.

I’m okay with not being normal. Especially if my kids are known for being well-behaved without having to hit them.

Here’s the question that I want to close with:

Is it a coincidence I’ve never spanked my children and yet they are known for how well behaved they are? Or am I on to something with my simple 5 step program?

Photo courtesy of April Milan Photography.

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Millennial Parents Respond to Mayim Bialik’s “Competitive Moms” Story

My wife and I recently published a video for our YouTube channel for this blog, giving our reaction to Mayim Bialik’s story on People.com, called Mayim Bialik Reveals She “Left in Tears” After First Group Meeting with “Competitive Moms”.

Her story addresses the fact that Millennials live in a version of the world in which so many parents feel the need to compete with one another. This creates an environment in which those who are not “competing” often feel judged by those who are.

In our own video responding to the story, I explained that the real issue with parents who feel the need to compete with others in their parenting style and skills is this:

They are insecure in their identity not only as individuals, but as parents.

It goes back to junior high when I learned this from my mom; that the kids who were most likely to tease others were simply revealing that they were actually more insecure than the kids they were making fun of.

And now as adults, this same concept continues:

The most insecure parents have the biggest need to project an image of themselves as the “better” parents. And sure, social media helps encourage the competition.

“Mirror, mirror, on my Facebook wall, who’s the fairest parent of them all?”

People tend to seek confirmation when they communicate in social media. They are often seeking approval from their peers to confirm that they are cool, they are funny, they are beautiful, they are relevant, and/or they are good parents.

But what if you simply don’t that need confirmation and therefore, you have no reason to compete?

Insecure parents compete with other another, while slightly clueless yet confident parents ignore the competition all together.

In our video, my wife and I explain that none of us parents truly know what we’re doing. We can’t.

I explain that if you are competing with other parents, you are automatically losing that competition. The only way to “win” is not to play at all.

Instead, all we can do is the best we know how and hope it works out in the end. But as we “practice” parenting, the last thing we should worry about is some silly ongoing competition on the best way to parent.

I explain that while all of us are clueless to some degree, we can still show we are secure in our own identity as individuals and as parents by simply accepting that our own parenting methods are no better than others’, and therefore, we have no reason to seek confirmation or approval in a competition, or to judge other parents for making different decisions than us.

For example, my wife and I do not spank our children. We discipline them, but we have never physically struck them. That’s the culture in our household.

However, that doesn’t mean we have any interest in judging parents who do spank their children. After all, my wife and I are in the minority in this.

Similarly, we have no desire to judge other parents for what they let their children eat. Yes, I am a vegan and my wife and children are vegetarians. But that doesn’t mean we believe everyone should do as we do. We simply don’t care.

Let other people live their own lives. As for us, we’ll live our own. It’s that simple.

When you are focused on doing what is right for your own family, how can you have time to worry about whether other parents are doing it better or worse than you?

My wife and I definitely do not have it all figured out. We never will. We automatically disqualify ourselves from the competition.

You’re more than welcome to join us.

Instead of Spanking, Answer the 5 “Distress Calls” of Your Child “Misbehaving”: Tired, Hungry, Bored, Lonely, or Sick

I am writing this blog post for any open-minded Millennial parents who want a new perspective on how to discipline their children, without using physical force. This is not designed to change the minds of anyone who defends spanking; nor do I judge parents who believe in spanking- if I did, I’d be judging 80% of American parents!

After all, I’m the strange one when it comes to child discipline: I represent the 20%, the minority, of American parents in that I don’t spank my children.

“Well I was spanked as a child and I turned out alright-

I’ve never killed anyone and I’ve never been to prison.”

That, by the way, is the cliché line you’ll typically hear from other parents who spank their children. But “not being a murderer” and “never spent time in prison” are not good selling point in defense of spanking a child.

In fact, that concept only reinforces that spanking is counterproductive, or ineffective, at best:

Look at the people who actually end up in prison and who actually are murderers. While spanking a child doesn’t mean they’ll end up in prison or murder someone, documented research shows that “spanked children are more likely to break the law.”

But beyond that, I say this isn’t even a question of, “Well then how do I discipline my child without spanking them?”

No, that’s the wrong thing to be asking.

The right question is this: “How can I proactively prevent my child from misbehaving to begin with, or at least care for their actual needs instead of physically striking them when they do misbehave?”

I am basing my logic from Albert Einstein, who said this:

“Intellectuals solve problems. Geniuses prevent them.”

You’re the parent. Your job is to provide for your child’s needs, not hit them because they have those needs in the first place.

Here’s a reminder that you, the adult, are more much emotionally intelligent than your child, who is not necessarily capable or likely to communicate what is wrong. Instead, they “act out” to get attention from you, as the emotionally intelligent adult, to figure out which of the following issues they need you to solve.

I see the word “misbehave” as the wrong word anyway. Instead, the child is sending the parent a “warning signal” that they need the parent’s help.

It’s this simple. As the parent, your job is to constantly ask yourself this question:

“Is my child tired, hungry, bored, lonely, or sick?”

If the answer is yes to any of those 5 things, then here’s what you do:

You facilitate your child taking a nap, you feed your child, you help your child find a constructive activity to do, you pay them attention, or you provide medical assistance.

Imagine an adult hitting a child’s butt because that child is too emotionally unintelligent to verbally communicate with the parent that they are tired, hungry, bored, lonely, or sick.

Now compare that to my solution.

My son was the first child to be chosen by his Kindergarten teacher this year to as the “Student of the Month” in his class, as his teacher saw that he is not only well-behaved, but also well-balanced and involved in class. He’s also in the Advanced Reader group.

Additionally, at his “before care” school, both his teacher and the director have individually approached me to tell me the same thing:

“I have watched your son day after day. He is the most polite and helpful boy here. Whatever you’re doing as a parent, just know… it’s working.”

Only 20% of American parents don’t spank their children. And I am one of them.

My Original 5 Point Checklist for Parents When Their Child “Misbehaves”

My Original 5 Point Checklist for Parents When Their Child “Misbehaves”

I had every reason to be an advocate of spanking my child.

After all, I was raised Southern. (“Nuff said.”)

Not to mention, I was also raised Southern Baptist. And that means that a particular Bible verse got more than its fair share of attention; Proverbs 13:24:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

Hence, the popular phrase, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

However, I now translate that verse as, “It’s better to physically strike your child with a wooden object than it is to refrain from disciplining them at all.”

It appears to me that one extreme is being compared to another; an “either/or” situation.

I am able to comprehend that disciplining my child and spanking him can be two separate entities.

Assuming that verse in Proverbs explicitly endorses spanking, in my opinion, would make hypocrites of us:

I’ve yet to meet a Christian who gouged out their own eye because of temptation to look at something that would cause them to do wrong, when Jesus said this in Matthew 18:9…

“And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter (eternal) life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

Or their right hand either (Matthew 5:30):

“And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose part of your body than for whole body to go into hell.”

In other words, address the actual issue initially, that way you don’t end up with a worse outcome.

Yes, it’s true: I am an official advocate of disciplining my child without spanking him.

But obviously, between how I was brought up and my son currently being 5 years old, something fundamentally intervened in regards to how I think.

What caused such an abrupt conversion in my life?

My wife.

Like me, and like nearly all of us parents who are Eighties Children, she was spanked as a child too.

We had always planned to spank our son, too. The deal was, that I would be the one to actually spank him. And that was it.

Never was the issue that “I simply just didn’t have it in me” to spank him. Because like most of us, I had reached the point of being “fed up” enough to do it.

Believe me, I had it in me…

But yet, I never have spanked my son; nor has anyone else.

And if you’ve met him, you know how bright, intelligent, creative, funny, and well-behaved he is. Is he simply the exception to the rule? Is it just because he’s the first born and therefore more eager to please?

I’m sure at this point, any skeptics out there are tempted to say, “You lucked out with your first kid. Well you just wait until your little girl is born in a few months. She’ll be a whole different story!”

To that, I could only say, try me. Let’s revisit that question in a few years, because you better believe I will on my end.

My official moment of conversion occurred during our first trip as a family to Louisville, Kentucky; to visit the zoo, when our son was around 2 years old.

It’s just about a 2 and half hour drive from where we live in the Nashville area. So we decided just to leave straight after work on that Friday.

What a miserable road trip there! No matter what we did as parents, he screamed and cried. I had to roll down the windows just to drown him out.

He finally fell asleep in the car, after about 10 PM.

But then the next morning, as my wife was buying food supplies for us at the local Whole Foods, my son and I waited in the car for about 20 minutes. He was screaming and “pitching a fit” the whole time.

While being trapped in our little car with him, I had reached my limit. I had officially decided that I would spank him for the first time.

Louis CK Spanking

Every cliché redneck phrase was going through my head:

“I’m about to show that boy who’s boss! He’s past due for some good ole fashioned discipline. It’s about time for me to put him over my knee!”

But like any good husband should do, I asked my wife’s permission first.

And she gave me the red light.

She simply pointed out that he hadn’t gotten good rest the night before, as we as the parents had thrown his sleep schedule off the night before, since we were driving when he would normally be put to bed.

From that day, until last week, I had accidentally been formulating a 5 point checklist to decide why my child is “misbehaving.”

I shared it officially for the first time this week. I came up with this alone; I did not extract it from any other website nor did I hear it first from any other person. This is my original work and let the time stamp of today’s blog post prove that true.

Hungry, tired, bored, lonely, or sick.

They need to know when to eat (hungry), when to sleep (tired), when to play (bored), when to engage in conversation (lonely), or when they are physically incapable of feeling well (sick).

These are the times when your child is simply more prone to have restlessly energy and/or be extremely sensitive to the slightest thing, causing them to have a meltdown.

While I alone did invent that check list, I didn’t invent the following 5 step check list for alternatives to spanking. I learned these while serving as Parents.com’s official daddy blog.

Ignore attention-seeking behavior; pay attention to good behavior; redirect your child; teach consequences that make sense; and use time-outs for serious offenses.

This is a lesson I am still learning/reminding myself of.

My wife and I have officially come to the realization that whenever we visit my parents for the weekend, we have to leave their house before 11:30 AM on Sunday; we can’t wait until after lunch.

Our son’s body starts shutting down by that time, as he is needing a nap. It’s not fair to him to expect him to “behave” when he’s having to wait later to eat and sleep later just so we can have “more quality time as a family.”

The exact opposite happens instead: He has a meltdown, and therefore, that extra time as a family is not quality time.

He is simply more prone to have restlessly energy and/or be extremely sensitive to the slightest thing, causing him to have a meltdown.

Instead, we need to leave earlier so that he doesn’t slip into that mindset, and therefore, we as the parents don’t get upset either.

I am so grateful I married such a level-headed woman.

Otherwise, I would be hitting my kid ultimately because as a parent, I wasn’t proactive to provide for his needs ahead of time; regarding him being hungry, tired, bored, lonely, or sick.

What about for the parent who read this and comments, “Well I have always spanked my kid, and they too, are very well behaved.”

I would respond, “That raises the question: If my child is well behaved without spanking, and yours is well behaved with spanking, doesn’t that prove that spanking is unnecessary? If the two methods are simply equally effective, why physically strike your child when there are equally effective alternatives (when applied proactively and consistently by the parent)?”

It is my belief that a lot of people assume the minority of us who don’t spank their children (about 20% of the American population) actually don’t discipline them at all. When in fact, I have a very proactive and detailed discipline system in place.