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.

Advertisements

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Confess, I was Secretly the Evil Co-Worker Who Always Came to Work Sick

Chances are, with it being this time of year, if you scroll through your Facebook feed right now, you’ll likely find a paragraph-long rant from someone declaring that people shouldn’t come in to work sick, spreading their germs with everyone else; how doing so only makes it worse for the whole office.

Here’s the thing: I was always that Scar or Jafar-like villain who secretly kept coming to work sick anyway. And in hindsight, I have no regrets about my selfish actions.

Strange Trivia Rabbit Trail: Have you ever noticed the common practice in Disney cartoon movies where the villain either has a foreign accent (to subliminally instill in us the propaganda that foreigners can not be trusted) or effeminate mannerisms (to further distance mainstream America from accepting the homosexual community)? It just so happens that both Scar (from The Lion King) and Jafar (from Alladin) relate to both of these tropes.

Yes, I was the co-worker who secretly came to work sick.

I deserve the electric chair, so I can personally relate to the lyrics of Metallica’s 1984 song “Ride the Lightning”, or at have least people standing on my front porch with pitchforks to denounce me for the heinous crime I committed more times than I could count, over the course of a decade.

If nothing else, surely some people could get together and create a clever hashtag to trend, to globally “sick shame” me on Twitter:

#SickShameNick

But with cold blood running through my icy veins, even now, I admit I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

I only had a limited number of sick days each year. I had to save them for my kids. My wife and I had a deal: We took turns staying home each time one of the kids got sick; which occurred a lot over the past several years.

Between two kids, this has included febrile seizures, a parapharyngeal abscess, tubes being put in ears to end countless issues with ear infections, as well as a few trips to the the emergency room.

And this doesn’t even include the Rolodex of times one of our kids simply had a temperature (that led to nothing more), and we had to leave work to stay home with them.

So obviously, “sick days” were never for me. They were for my kids.

I wasn’t willing to stay home and use sick days for myself when it could lead to me running out of them, then having attendance issues at work, and/or having to not be paid for work that day.

And that would all be on top of the medical bills that kept popping up an account of our kids being sick.

I am not ashamed to admit that I was always the one showing up to work sick while doing my best to keep it a secret; as I would chug an entire carton of orange juice at my desk, along with some priobiotic Kombucha, and Ibruprofen; as a cheap way to get myself through the day.

Amazingly, it usually helped restore me to health after about 2 or 3 days.

But don’t worry, entire world: I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for over 3 months now. I rarely get out of the house anymore. You are safe.

So yeah, that hashtag again…

 

Dear Jack: You Got a Cold after Your Sister Got the Flu, Exactly a Year after Your Parapharyngeal Abscess

7 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

Leading up to this week, it was already on my mind; how exactly a year ago, you and I spent several days together in the children’s hospital after you got a parapharyngeal abscess as a side effect on Strep Throat.

And then this past Sunday, your sister got the flu, with a temperature of 106; therefore needing an IV for fluids.

So I just hoped then when you inevitably go the flu from her, that you wouldn’t have it as bad.

Fortunately, it appears you got a bad cold instead, more than anything. Your temperature peaked at only 104 degrees.

Therefore, on Tuesday, after you finally got to go back to school for one day (after nearly an entire month off due to the Christmas holidays, Martin Luther King Day, and a week of being snowed in), you were back at home with me and your sister.

It was surely a day of rest. We watched all 2 hours and 25 minutes of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which you suddenly declared is your “favorite movie ever”; as well as 2 entire DVDs of Pink Panther cartoons. Your sister gladly went along with it, as it was a special treat for her to have access to that much screen time; though really, she was playing with her toys most of the time.

I would like to think that February will be a less chaotic month for our family. Hopefully we can just all be healthy and enjoy my TV premiere on “This Time Next Year” on the Lifetime Network.

No more snow. No more sickness. Just back to school and back to the routine of homework and your Pokemon obsession.

You are an intelligent boy with plenty of energy. You were weren’t meant to be cooped up in the house all day.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 106 Degree Temperature with the Flu This Week

1 year, 9 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend was pretty intense, as we had to rush you to the Emergency Room twice in the same day; your temperature reached 106.

You had to be hooked up to an IV to make sure you got enough fluids. It was scary- but for sure, we didn’t have enough time to worry, only to pray.

I was amazed we didn’t have to stay overnight with you in the hospital. I had packed my overnight bag, sure that I’d be staying with you, since Mommy had to be at work the next day and your brother needed to be back at school.

But to my surprise, we took you back home and you were in bed by normal time. Even more miraculous, you actually slept through the entire night!

The following few days were filled with a careful regimen of alternating Advil and Tylenol every 3 hours; as ultimately, the prescription we received to treat the flu made you vomit and you couldn’t hold it down. Really though, the prescription only served to shorten the flu by a few days anyway.

The focus has been to get you to drink enough fluids. In addition to letting you drink juice (which is a rare thing in our house!), Mommy also started serving you water through a medicine dropper labelled “water”, alongside the ones from Advil and Tylenol.

Currently as I write this, you are out driving around with Mommy, and Grandma (who is visiting from California), going to look at model houses in surrounding neighborhoods (just for fun) and surely going to get some Gigi’s Cupcakes as well.

Though I offered to watch you here at the house while they were out, you insisted that you wanted to join them in girl time. It was as if to say, “No way, Daddy! I’m not staying home with you when I can get out of this house and see the world again!”

So yeah, that’s a sign you’re feeling a bit better.

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Holly: Your 3 Day Long Virus with a 106 Degree Temperature

1 year, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

While getting tubes put in your ears a couple months ago definitely has helped prevent you getting more ear infections, it doesn’t prevent you from getting sick beyond that. So the weekend before last, you woke up in the middle of the night with a 106 degree temperature!

It definitely was scary for Mommy and me, but the nurse on the phone advised us to give you a bath to cool you down, along with pain reliever/fever reducer. When Mommy took you to the doctor the next morning, we learned that you simply had a virus that would end in 3 days; no prescription medicine would help cure it any faster.

Nonna and Papa were already planning on coming up to our house for most of the week because your brother’s school was on Fall Break. But because of your condition, they rushed up early by a few days to help take care of you; as Mommy and I still had to go to work.

You definitely needed extra cuddle time with Nonna as your body was fighting off the virus, and she was happy to oblige. And your naps were much longer as well; 3 hour naps compared to your usual 45 hour naps.

But as the doctor had predicted, your fever went away and your energy returned. The pictures starting streaming in from Nonna, as she sent them through Facebook Messenger.

I saw you playing with Papa and going on a stroller ride with Nonna.

You eventually even went to the park and wanted to go play in the creek with your brother. Too bad you didn’t have rain boots on!

We are so grateful that you are okay now and that Nonna and Papa were able to rush to the rescue! Thank God our little girl is okay.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: In Sickness and in Health

8 months.

Dear Holly: In Sickness and in Health

Dear Holly,

I have to accept that you’re simply in that stage of life right now where you’re ultimately building immunity to sicknesses- in other words, you’re getting sick a lot these days.

Really though, I’d prefer for you to just to get it all out of the way now, while you’re still a baby.

As a parent, this is one of the most anxious stages of raising a child. Since Mommy and I both work full time, there are only so many sick days and vacation days we can take turns using to stay home with you when you can’t go to daycare.

Mommy and I both worked the New Year’s Holiday this year, while Nonna and Papa watched you, so we can help rebuild our dwindling pool of sick and vacation days.

Of course, there’s obviously some irony in there. We work so hard to provide for you, yet we have to keep you in daycare- but then when you get sick, we actually get to spend all day with you, not working- while we care for you in your sickness.

I have this theory that because it’s been such a warm winter so far, that it creates an environment for sickness to abound. So maybe I welcome the cold, the ice, the snow.

The sad thing is I can’t remember the last time you weren’t either sick, recovering from being sick, or about to get sick again. In the midst of adding new viruses and illnesses to your collection, it’s as if you don’t know what it’s like to be normal… to not be sick.

Yet still, you are the same smiley little baby girl- who, might I add, is really enjoying crawling these days. It’s like you’re a cute little puppy who follows us around.

Love,

Daddy

5 Reasons My Young Child “Misbehaves”: Tired, Hungry, Bored, Lonely, or Sick

Louis C.K. spanking quote

I am of the 20% of the American population, the minority, who does not believe in spanking in order to discipline my child.

With that being said, I always give a disclaimer when I write about this: I have no interest in judging other parents for their decisions. If anything, today’s post has more to do with defending my own unusual parenting style.

My theory is that it’s easy and natural as a parent, especially a new parent (which I no longer am), to assume your child is “misbehaving” when really they are needing your attention as a parent, but are incapable of explicitly communicating that to you.

I simplify the symptoms into 5 simple categories. When my child “misbehaves,” he is really just tired, hungry, bored, lonely, or sick.

As his dad, it’s my responsibility to recognize these as symptoms of a greater issue, instead of problems themselves.

Otherwise, I could allow myself to believe my child is misbehaving simply because he is “being a brat right now”.

It comes down to emotional intelligence. I’m a 34 and a half year-old man. I am good at communicating how I feel and at understanding emotions.

However, my son is a month away from being 5 years old, so he’s got about 3 decades less of communication experience and emotional control than I do.

I feel it would be unfair to my child to physically strike him simply because he is tired, or hungry, or bored, or lonely, or sick; blaming him for “misbehaving” when really, he’s in need of my parental provision.

So instead, whenever he is “acting up”, I ask myself this simple question:

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

There has yet to be an instance where at least one of those symptoms was not the answer.

I remind myself, that again, my son typically is not going to simply state what the problem is:

“Daddy, the reason I am crying and refusing to sit still is because I didn’t take a long enough nap today at Pre-K. Therefore, the best solution is to put me to bed tonight sooner than usual.”

If I myself am tired, I recognize that fact and make plans to try to sleep; like yesterday, I used my lunch break at work to sleep in my car.

If I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m bored, I find a way to entertain myself. If I’m lonely, I engage someone in conversation. And if I’m not feeling well, I do something about it.

But imagine babies and young children, not being able to necessarily recognize those issues about themselves. They need their parents to recognize these issues and proactively handle, and even prevent, these from even happening.

With my 2nd child due to be born in April, I feel I will be better equipped with this knowledge than I was with my 1st child.

I feel I will be less frustrated because I will clearly understand that a newborn has no way, other than screaming and crying, that he or she is tired, hungry, bored, lonely, or sick; and is depending on me to be proactive enough to do something about it.

So instead of spanking my 4 year-old son, I follow these simple guidelines I learned from back when I was Parents.com’s official daddy blogger for those 3 years:

1. Ignore attention-seeking behavior.

2. Pay attention to good behavior.

3. Redirect your child.

4. Teach consequences that make sense.

5. Use time-outs for serious offenses.