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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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.

3 Bits of Parenting Advice I Wish I Had Received Beforehand: Cry It Out Method, No Fruit Juice, Discipline without Spanking

Louis CK Spanking

When you are expecting your first child, by default you are bombarded by people giving you what they think is good advice, when in reality, it’s just nonsense:

“Make sure you get plenty of sleep now, because once the baby arrives,

you’ll be wishing you had more of it!”

Lame.

That doesn’t even make sense. Even if you sleep 12 hours every day leading up to when that baby arrives, that won’t change the fact you still will be deprived of sleep once the baby is born.

It’s not like the outdated concept of “rollover minutes” on your flip phone from 2003.

Now that my second child is due in April, I’m collecting my thoughts on how to prevent making the mistakes I did with my 1st child.

Last week one of my friends I grew up with, whose first child is due a week before my second child, asked me over Facebook if I had any tips for him.

And that, of course, inspired this blog post today.

I should give this disclaimer, though: All 3 of my tips today are unpopular with the majority.

However, I know that these three tips have led to me being a more efficient parent personally and have led to the making of a good kid.

Seriously, my 5 year-old soon is a good kid. He’s bright, he’s creative, he’s active, he’s funny, he’s well-behaved, and he’s healthy. And he doesn’t get in trouble at Pre-K.

I say those things not to brag, but to provide evidence that the parenting tips I am submitting today are personally effective; not just simply my opinion.

This blog post today is written for open-minded, soon-to-be first time parents, who I am grateful are taking the time to hear what I have to say, in an effort to proactively seek help.

1) Use the “cry it out” method. I have now just revealed that I am not an “attachment parent” or a “helicopter parent”. Unfortunately, my wife and I didn’t learn this lesson until our son was 7 months old.

Your baby is depending on you to learn when night time is and when he or she should be asleep for several hours at a time. By answering your baby’s cries each time during the middle of the night, it is actually counter-productive as it prevents your baby from getting the necessary rest he or she needs; as well as yours and your spouse’s.

Yes, it can be psychologically challenging as the parent to apply the “cry it out” method, at first. It can difficult to choose efficiency over emotion, but my child is proof that this method is not damaging to the child’s psyche.

2) Fruit juice is not a healthy drink option. Yes, fruit juice contains vitamins and is hydrating. However, it doesn’t contain the fiber from the fruit needed for digestion and to balance out the sugar. So what happens is your child gets an unhealthy sugar dose (and possibly excessive gas.)

My son gets a skin rash anytime he drinks juice. That’s what fully convinced me it’s not good for him. Even my son’s dentist, Dr. Snodgrass, quickly agreed with me when I mentioned it to him during my son’s visit first. The dentist immediately acknowledged he can always tell when a child regularly drinks juice, because their teeth typically aren’t as healthy.

So with that being said, obviously sports drinks (like Gatorade) and soda are nothing less than taboo in our household.

Instead, your child can get vitamins from actual fruit and vegetables found in fruit packets; plus I highly recommend buying a Baby Bullet, to provide your child with the right nutrition.

3) Discipline your child without spanking them. Your job as the parent is to provide certain things for your child that, on their own, they are not capable of understanding they need in the moment. They are depending on your lead for these things.

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).

Unfortunately, it’s only natural as a parent to, in the moment, forget about these things and instead, assume your child is “misbehaving”.

Five years into this, I now know to go off the check list when I am tempted to think my son is “misbehaving”. Each and every time, he’s either hungry, tired, bored, lonely, or sick. (I invented that check list, by the way.)

My role is to proactively provide for his needs, not to physically strike him for seeking negative attention for those symptoms.

Additionally, here are my 5 alternatives to spanking that I learned from when I blogged for Parents.com:

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

Consider that professional psychologists who have actually studied spanking have come to the same conclusion: Spanking is actually less effective. Even if it was only equally effective, why physically strike your child if you don’t have to?

For me it’s all about efficiency as a parent. It’s about working smart, not necessarily hard.

No need to make yourself a martyr if you know what’s really going on in your child’s brain.

If you are open-minded to my personally effective methods I have shared today, please feel free to comment so I can get back to you.

Dear Jack: Daddy, You’re Too Small And You’re A Bad Boy!

3 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: Daddy, You’re Too Small And You’re A Bad Boy!

Dear Jack,

Sunday night, randomly during the middle of dinner, after a very busy, non-stop, adventurous weekend with Mommy and me, you turned to me and made a proclamation:

“Daddy, you’re too small and you’re a bad boy!”

It was one of those times when I just froze, in order to keep from laughing at the absurdity of your unprovoked “insult” to me. I didn’t want to encourage your behavior by allowing you to see me smiling.

I recognize that you’re not yourself when you’re that tired and hungry. While Mommy and I did have to verbally explain to you that that’s not how you talk to me or her, I have to admit I can’t legitimately count statements like that as “bad behavior.”

As I hope will be reflected in my upcoming interview in Nashville’s The Tennessean, I recognize there are 3 main reasons why you “act up.” You’re either tired, hungry, or in need of attention.

There has yet to be a reason for you “getting in trouble” other than those 3 things.

I feel that as your Daddy, it’s up to me to help provide for those needs. It’s my job to make sure you get your naps and bedtime in according to your schedule, to give you food when you’re hungry (even though you yourself don’t realize you’re hungry), and to interact with you when you’re needing conversation.

In other words, you never just come out and say, “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” or “I want someone to pay attention to me.”

Instead, you “misbehave.”

And I can relate: When I’m tired, hungry, and for lack of a better phrase, “in need of attention,” I’m the same way.

But going back to what you told me, I’m still cracking up that you randomly informed me that I’m too small and a bad boy.

Mommy suggested that your insult was based on reoccurring storylines from Thomas & Friends episodes where, so often, the plot line revolves around one of the trains being too small to pull the freight.

As for the “bad boy” part, I think that’s you referencing other boys at school who get in trouble on a regular basis.

So, I’m too small and I’m a bad boy.

Not bad for an insult from a nearly 4 year-old.

Love,

Daddy

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I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With

With the Adrian Peterson story making unignorable headlines right now…

I Find Louis C.K.'s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With

I’m noticing that readership of my “spanking children” posts is rising:

Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?

I Never Saw Myself As A Non-Spanking Parent, But…

4 Out Of 5 Parents Spank Their Kids

A Slap In The Face: Child Abuse Or Discipline?

Parents And Politics: Delaware’s New “Spanking Ban”

Advice For “Granny,” Whose Grandchild Is Slapped In The Face

I realize that I’m in the minority on this one. I represent the 20% of the population who doesn’t spank (or physically discipline in any way) my child.

Simply put, the overwhelmingly majority of the American population (and likely the faithful people who read my blog) disagree with my view on spanking. Which is no problem. “To spank or not to spank” is up to the individual parent for their own child; I don’t make that decision for anyone but my own child.

It's Hard To Disagree With Louis C.K. On "Hitting Children"

So I promise I’m not trying to convert anyone here. But I do think Louis C.K., who is currently my favorite comedian, makes some very valid points. Personally, I think his statements are hard to argue with.:

“And stop hitting me, you’re huge. How could you hit me?! That’s crazy. You’re a giant, and I can’t defend myself.”I really think it’s crazy that we hit our kids. It really is–here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit. But it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones! If you hit a dog they… will put you in jail for that… You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f(orget) ’em. Who (cares)? Just… hit–let’s all hit them! People want you to hit your kid. If your kid’s making noise in public, “Hit him, hit him! Hit him! Grrr, hit him!” We’re proud of it! “I hit my kids. You’re… right I hit my kids.” Why did you hit them? “‘Cause they were doing a thing I didn’t like at the moment. And so I hit them, and guess what? They didn’t do it after that.” Well, that wouldn’t be taking the… easy way out would it? “

For the full, uncensored, un-family friendly version of this bit, check out Louis C.K.’s special available on Netflix, Hilarious.

I Find Louis C.K.'s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With

Again, a warning: It’s not at all family friendly; but for me, it reinforced and summarized my beliefs on child discipline better than I’ve heard anyone else ever do it.