Where I Pit myself for smacking my beautiful little girl.

Don’t worry Dopers… nothing too dramatic, but I’m beating up on myself nonetheless.

Little Madeleine is 2 and a half and simply beautiful, in every way. For years now I’ve subscribed to the belief that “the only thing you teach a child when you hit them is… how to hit.” and I’ve managed to stay on track all this time.

Last night however, on the way home from Day Care, I had collected my daughter and part of our happy routine involves the “treat box” - which is essentially Daddy’s little effort to provide some nutritious snacks on the drive home like small dried fruits and mandarins and fruit juice etc.

For some reason, Maddy decided it would be cool to empty all of the dried fruits and sultanas and mandarin peel all over the leather seats in the back of the Lexus. And then, for reasons utterly unknown, she thought it would be even COOLER to pour her apple and blackcurrant juice over the mess. And then, she crunched up a muesli slice and sprinkled the crumbs in the middle of it all.

Holy Fuck - there was shit everywhere. It took ages to clean up this morning.

So I pulled over, and came around to the back door and opened it and did something I really feel ashamed about… I told her “Naughty!” and I smacked her on her leg. And I smacked her hard! I chose her leg because she was wearing thick trousers so I knew it wasn’t gonna welt or anything but I lost it there for a second and I’m angry with myself for that.

When we got home I put her in the “naughty room” for 2 minutes and then went through the “get down low and talk in quiet tones” stuff and she said sorry, and she meant it.

But damn! I hit her. I smacked her. And I’m ashamed.

Any constructive insights are welcome, believe me.

You’re human. You lost your temper and did something you find shameful. You regret it.

Welcome to the club. I’d be a lot more worried about you if you didn’t feel so bad about it.

So much for your chance at raising a world class chef.

Hang on to the shame. But also know that nothing in what you say of your history makes it likely that this will become a problem of grand proportion.

Take comfort.

IANAAdult, but my parents spanked me very occassionally when I was a little kid, and it didn’t scar me. They have since given me a full commentary on the rules they followed, and I’m still like, DANG!, those were darned good rules. Here are the four most important:

  1. Force is only used in cases where the lesson must be learned NOW (esp. in cases of damage to property or endangerment of lives.)
  2. The parent must keep their anger completely controlled while doing the spanking (so that he/she is making fully rational decisions).
  3. Open-hand spanking only (so that you know exactly how hard you’re hitting, and feel pain too).
  4. Spanking enforces justice, otherwise the parent is completely teaching kids how to hit.

My sister and I, we turned out all right. We were oft complemented for being very polite. I guess you broke Rule 2, and indeed anger is never a good motive for hitting a kid, but no-one here is going to curse you for it, and your post seems to clearly indicate a parent who still was in control.

Since you broke your plan for parenting, I can see why you feel bad. I don’t think it will traumatize Maddy though; plus, the pro. to corporal punishment is that for most kids, if it isn’t used often, it’s quite effective. Maddy probably learned her lesson; she’ll be okay.

Oh crud, it looks like this might get me steamrolled like a pancake. Oh well, here goes.

No, I agree with you. I’m the father of two kids (7 & 5) and my wife and I have a very similar attitude toward physical discipline:

  1. It must not be done in anger. You must choose corporal punishment with a cool head.

  2. It should be reserved for infractions that had the potential to seriously injure the child or someone else. You get spanked for running into traffic,for example.

  3. Or for willful disobedience. It’s the ultimate punishment that puts some weight behind normal punishments like time-outs. For example, you get spanked for refusing to go to your room if ordered to.

I can count the number of times I’ve spanked my kids on the fingers of one hand. As a result, each incident is vividly remembered. And our kids are very well behaved. I’ve had total strangers come up to me an complement me on how well-disciplined they are.

Boo Boo don’t feel too bad. You haven’t done any lasting damage. And given the nature of the infraction you might have been justified, particularly if you had ordered her to stop doing it and she ignored you. (That counts as willful disobedience in our household.)

Other discipline tips we’ve found useful:

  1. Wherever possible, don’t provide opportunities for bad behavior. Avoid keeping kids out too long in the afternoon so they get cranky. Don’t give them access to messes waiting to happen. That sort of thing.

  2. Refuse to acknowledge requests that are not made politely and in a pleasing tone of voice. “I’m sorry. I’m not getting you anything until you ask nicely.”

  3. Once you’ve made a decision, stick to it. They have to learn that your word is law. Don’t give in to crying, whining or pleading. (Politely offered suggestions about why you might reconsider a ruling should be given a fair hearing however.)

  4. Praise them when they’ve done well. Whenever my kids have been particularly well-behaved, I tell them so.

  5. Practice what you preach. Say please and thank you when you talk to them or your spouse. You want good behavior to become second nature.

I think the fact that you felt so bad about it shows that you have absolutely nothing to worry about in the parenting department.

I think it’s good that you feel bad about it and all, but I gotta ask: a two year old with food items in a leather interior luxury sedan?

Your guilt, and the time/money spent cleaning your upholstery, is a small price to pay for your failure as a parent to either realize or learn from the examples of your own parents, siblings, friends, and coworker’s anecdotes, as well as books, articles, TV, radio, and movies, that kids are messy, accident prone, and liable to do the damndest things on a silly whim that boggles adult comprehension.

No amount of preparation will ever prevent all such incidents, but a little parental prior planning will spare you from feelings of guilt at having lost your parental composure and resorting to violence against your own child in a fit of temper.

Leather upholstery is nice. I have it too, and quite like it. But still, it’s just a thing, a possession, and not worth making a two year old child cry over when the totally normal two-year old impulse that caused it might have been prevented by responsible parenting on your part.

Maybe I’m old school, but a spanking or an occasional smack on the butt (or leg in this case) is nothing to be worried about. I was spanked as a child (much worse than anything previously mentioned in this thread) and I spank my kids on the odd occasions they do something that calls for it. There are plenty of children whom I feel could greatly benefit from a good spanking.

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I am sorry, but baloney. <checks which forum she is in>–ok, bullshit.

He gets to have leather upholstery–he is grown up.
The kid needs to LEARN to respect other people’s property and boundaries.

At 2, this is a major challenge, but one that they can rise to, if taught consistently and not too punitatively. What the hell is with the snide “responsible parenting” jab? He does a good job. He smacked her leg once out of frustration. They talked. He feels remorse (a good thing) and most probably a resolve to NOT take that approach again, unless imminent danger faces his daughter.

Sounds to me like he’s a good Dad. We ALL lose our basket now and again–and any one who says that they don’t is either lying or raising a demon child, who I will not welcome into my grown up living room.

Sounds to me like daughter was acting like a brat for no real good reason–it’s an MO of most 2 y/o’s. The WHY they do some stuff is inexplicble–maybe she thought mixing all that shit in the backseat made for pretty colors. Maybe she did it because she had never been told not to(and you cannot pre-empt every act of naughtiness). Maybe she did it for some deep dark psychological reason–some unspeakable horror in her past–who the hell knows?

Point is–she shouldn’t do it. She learned a lesson (and I bet Dad did too). Lay off the judgement, already. The job is tough enough.

BooBoo --I would NOT get rid of the Lexus. I might put a large beach towel down under her car seat, so that any spills that happen can be more easily cleaned up. And you will have spills --accidents happen. I hope you will not punish her for the accidents, but I don’t think you will. And it is usually easy to tell accident from deliberate provocation.

I’m w/ExTank - not sayin’ you should ditch the Lexus (unless you wanted to gift it to me, then that would be fine). But rule o’ thumb for travel treats is “pack nothing you don’t want to be digging out of the carpet later”.

I used to have what I called the “Ben be quiet” bag, filled it w/an assortment of small toys (no cars, balls), games and the like. It was for all those occasions when he had to sit still for any length of time. He enjoyed picking things out for it, too.

Will you be hitting her if she barfs on the nice leather seats? Or has a nosebleed? Or laughs so hard that she pees herself?

I can see the point about respect for property, but that only stands if you’d have done the same thing in a junky station wagon.

The kid doesn’t know that leather seats in particular are expensive.

It’s just a car. If (god forbid) anything happened to your kid, I’m sure you’d give anything to have her chuck her juice on your leather seats again.

Still, doesn’t mean your a bad parent - fair play for feeling bad about it, but there’s worse things for a two year old to go through than a slap on the leg.

I’ve also read “never hit your child with the same hand that holds your tennis racket.” In other words, don’t use your dominant hand. A left-handed smack from a right-handed person (or vice versa) is going to hurt less, but still scare the child.

But i’m ambidextrous. :cool:

Guess it’s lucky i’m not having kids.

Except that these are all accidents, not deliberately making food art on the seats. It also, to me, doesn’t matter what material the seats are made of, children should be taught to not damage anything . A 2yo doesn’t know the market value of leather seats, or a quality berber rug from industrial grade carpet, or a nice business suit from a sweatsuit and can’t use that to make a decision how to behave, so the default should be don’t trash anything deliberately.

IANAParent, but I really don’t think that children are irredemably harmed by an open-handed smack. Boo Boo Foo , just make sure your little girl knows you love her and she’ll be fine.

Boo Boo Foo, you did the right thing.

You smacked her where the bruises won’t show.

You’re doing fine.

If my 3 brothers had gotten spanked, they may not be the almost total leeches on society they are turning into (the one in Iraq being a temporary exception).

And now, off to take my children to day care… both of whom have been spanked. But not for almost 2 years now, as they know what it is and will toe the line to avoid it.


Don’t worry. You’re not going to mess her up. I was spanked too as a kid, many times, and I usually rightly deserved it. It was never excessive, just a swat on the butt and a time out in my room. There was a couple times my mom spanked me that she probably shouldn’t have, and she apologized for it. I don’t agree with the notion that by her hitting me I was being taught to hit. I was never physically violent as a kid, even with people who bullied me (that might be partly b/c I’m a wimp, though).

Do you put effort into being this obnoxious, or is it a god given gift?

The concepts come naturally. I put a little work into the phrasing.