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.

At What Point Can I Admit My Kid Turned Out Fine, Having Never Been Spanked?

I’m used to being in the minority. I’ve typically always questioned what society’s acceptance and endorsement of what is deemed as normal and/or popular.

So it should be no surprise that I represent the minority percentage of American parents who does not spank my child.

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.

I have no interest in trying to convert the majority, but I do believe it is relevant as a daddy blogger to show the other side of the story to those who are open-minded and/or curious.

Before I myself converted to the minority who doesn’t spank, I used to believe that “disciplining your child” and “spanking” had to be one in the same.

I feel that up until recently, there hasn’t been enough easily attainable, professional research on the subject.

So up until now, American tradition has overruled the possibility that not only is spanking less effective than “non-spanking child discipline”, but that spanking is indeed more likely to produce negative effects on the child. This is something I’ve covered before in “Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?“.

This point is also mentioned here below in this video featuring Robert Brooks, PhD Psychologist, featured on KidsInTheHouse.com (The World’s Largest Parenting Video Library)

With that being said, at what point can I admit my 4 year-old son turned out fine, having never been spanked?

As his dad, I am regularly told how well-behaved yet creative and full of joy my little boy is, by adults who teach him and watch him while I am not around.

He never gets in trouble at school. He’s a good kid. He’s intelligent. He’s not a brat.

That’s not to brag; instead, I’m saying that to demonstrate that my method of disciplining my son has been successful, and my method has never included spanking.

What age must he be before my method of discipline is accepted by mainstream America as effective? Do I have to wait until he’s a preteen or a teenager? Or should I wait until he’s lived a long life without a criminal record?

Is my son an exception to the rule? Or he is “just a good kid”? Or perhaps does my method of child discipline have something to do with him “just being a good kid”?

Must I proof that not spanking is effective by having more kids who all turn out to be good kids too? How many kids? At what point is my point legitimate?

As a parent, I am interested in using the most effective method out there; not necessarily the one that is most popular by tradition. For me, the evidence is right there in front of me every day when I see my son.

I would like to close with comedian Louis C.K.’s words on the matter.

Originally, I featured this in “I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With“. Here’s a selection from his special, Hilarious:

“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?”

No matter what other parents choose for their own children, I can feel fully confident in my personal decision on not spanking. Thank you for your open-mindedness in reading my (unpopular) opinion on this much controversial topic.

At What Point Can I Admit My Kid Turned Out Fine, Having Never Been Spanked?

Questioning “I Was Spanked As A Child And I Turned Out Just Fine!” Infographic

I have to again immediately point out that I recognize I am of the small majority of American parents who does not spank my child; nor have I ever.

This is something I’ve addressed before in both I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With, as well as, Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?

image

Whether or not other parents spank their children is none of my interest, but I do believe it’s important to help explain some of my reasoning; if nothing else, for those who are curious.

Typically, pro-spanking parents are quick to say, “Well, I was spanked as a child and I turned out just fine!”

The term “just fine” is difficult to qualify, but typically the person will follow up by saying they’ve never been to prison or killed anyone.

Following this logic, that means most prisoners, former prisoners, and ex-cons were not spanked as children. Conversely, that also implies that most children who are spanked stay out of prison.

Ultimately, since most, 80%, of American children are spanked, that means in theory that at least 80% of current prisoners and ex-cons were spanked.

In other words, I’m having difficulty seeing the validity in that spanking children keeps them from growing up to be adults who end up in prison.

During the 3 year span I was the official daddy blogger of Parents.com, I learned a lot from Richard Rende, PhD, who is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School. He had this to say in his article, Spanking Doesn’t Work:

 ”Let’s keep in mind here the argument for spanking – it’s purported to improve children’s behavior. Studies continue to demonstrate that it does not do this, and in fact often predicts worse behavior. So despite the personal stories and folklore about how a good spanking can change a kid, each empirical study that comes out suggests that it changes a kid for the worse, not better.

If these stories ring true, why don’t we see huge positive effects of spanking when we study kids over time?”

I think it’s easy for non-spanking parents to assume that children who are not spanked (like mine) are brats; especially if they are an only child… again, like mine.

Of course, if you personally knew my son, you would know he’s never been in any trouble at school. Actually, in public, he’s a fairly reserved little boy. So is my son just the exception?

Or would have spanking my son this whole time made him a better behaved child? I wonder what that would look like?

So instead of spanking him, I follow these simple guidelines:

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.

The one of these I find most effective is to redirect his attention. And I’ve learned not to punish him for being tired or hungry, because I have more control over his food and sleep than he does. He’s not himself when he’s tired or hungry.

I still can’t get over how Louis CK put it in his special, Hilarious:

“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?”

Ultimately, actual research has shown that spanking has been shown to not only be less effective, but also more detrimental to the child, as seen in the infographic below.

So while I don’t at all look down on parents who spank their children, because let’s be honest, that would mean I look down on most parents if I did, with me being the minority…

I instead can be confident in knowing the reasoning behind why I am so strange to believe that for my child, spanking is not an option.

SpareTheRoadInfographic_MSTServices

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.

Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?

April 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm , by 

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

I try not to make a big deal about it, but we don’t spank you. However, I’ve mentioned before that until you were born, I was “pro-spanking”.

That changed when you were born, but not because “I didn’t have it in me” to spank you.

Instead, it was because as I’ve been comparing you to other kids your age, I clearly see that you are no worse behaved than those who are spanked.

I just don’t see the benefit of spanking a child, as compared to a child who is disciplined the way I try (!) to discipline  you:

Setting clear expectations to begin with, consistently following through with time-outs, calmly (yet assertively) explain why the punishment occurred, as well as how it can be prevented next time.

I realize now that it’s the lack of discipline that concerns me. That’s why I am very serious about making sure you are effectively and consistently disciplined.

However, I don’t have a problem with other parents spanking their kids, because that’s none of my business. I’m a Libertarian, after all. (Though I would become the Incredible Hulk if I ever found out any other adult, like a teacher, ever spanked you!)

But for me personally, I don’t see how spanking is any more effective than the way I have always tried to discipline you.

In fact, Richard Rende, PhD, who is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School and Buter Hospital and a blogger at Red Hot Parenting, cleverly put it this way in his article, Spanking Doesn’t Work:

 ”Let’s keep in mind here the argument for spanking – it’s purported to improve children’s behavior. Studies continue to demonstrate that it does not do this, and in fact often predicts worse behavior. So despite the personal stories and folklore about how a good spanking can change a kid, each empirical study that comes out suggests that it changes a kid for the worse, not better.

If these stories ring true, why don’t we see huge positive effects of spanking when we study kids over time?”

I’m not saying that I’m the best example of a parent… and I really don’t know who is. With that being said, I have to admit, you’re not a kid who gets into trouble.

You’re a 3 year-old. A lot of your issues are based on me not getting you home in time for your afternoon nap.

I have never spanked you and I never plan to. (Plus, Mommy wouldn’t let me even if I wanted to.)

More than anything, I believe in doing what is most effective. Therefore, I discipline you without spanking you… because that’s what’s right for our family’s culture and communication style.

Discipline without spanking is not right or effective for all families, but it is for us.

Love, Daddy

P.S. This video explains 5 alternatives to spanking that Mommy and I try to apply:

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.

Discipline Without Spanking
Discipline Without Spanking