Looking back, maybe I should have spanked her


Chloe and I go outside almost every day, rain or shine. Most often we hang out in the back yard, but today we were out front so I could transplant some flowers. During this time a neighbor wandered over. He’s the kind of older neighbor that plays with the neighborhood cats,  invites the local kids to the museum where he works for free, and eptitomizes the words Neighborhood Watch.

Today he saw Chloe and Barkley hanging out in our driveway so he walked over for a brief chat. We talked about a plant he recently bought for the edge of his driveway. When he walked back, he called out and pointed to the plant he had just mentioned. I looked over and said something about it being similar to another plant he already had when I heard Chloe calling my name. That’s when I turned my head and saw her in the street.

Ever since Chloe took her first steps, I’ve taught her to never go past the curb. When we’d walk over to visit a neighbor, I’d pick her up and carry her. If we were going for a walk around the neighborhood, then she’d be pushed in the stroller. She’s never been allowed to take a single step onto the road. And today, she did it anyway. In that single moment that I looked the other way, Chloe took an opportunity to do something she knew she shouldn’t do. Whether she forgot, or did it intentionally, does not change the fact that it could have gotten her killed.

I immediately picked her up out of the road and placed her back on our yard, all the while very emphatically saying No! After I put her down, I thought  a stronger consequence was in order, so I picked her up again and took her into the house. She cried when I shut the door behind us, because she didn’t want to come in, yet this still didn’t seem like enough. But by then I knew too much time had passed and anything else wouldn’t get tie together in her mind, so I left it at that.

All I can think now is thank goodness there was no car coming at that moment! Our street is pretty quiet and it is likely someone coming would have seen her and stopped anyway. But, what if? Also, this incident again revealed to me that I’m not prepared to discipline. I just don’t know how. Her doctor recommended Time-Outs (one minute for each year in age), but I know that she wouldn’t stay in a chair or a corner where I could safely leave her. Nor do I want to put her in a play-pen or shut her in her room. So what to do? She’s only 19-months right now anyway, but modern literature suggests that disciplining is best started early, that disciplinary consequence will be necessary to keep her safe and help her negotiate within society. The question is, what is the best way to go about it? I don’t know, but I hope I figure it out soon.

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7 thoughts on “Looking back, maybe I should have spanked her

  1. my youngest daughter was about 2 1/2 when she ran into the street. as she was running I kept telling her to stop and she just laughed away. we, too, were lucky no car was coming because she ran out behind my parked car… no one would have seen her coming.

    anyway, that was her first spanking. and I felt like an idiot bc the dad that I was dropping something of to watched the whole thing. as I buckled her into her car seat, he came over and said, “we don’t spank either but that totally called for one!” haha. it did make me feel a little better. 🙂

    my two girls are 5 and 3… sometimes time-outs work, sometimes they don’t. I still haven’t figured it out. when you do – let me know, ok? 🙂

  2. We do time out’s over here. And i’ve done them since he was about 12 months old (since we went through our terrible twos then). Now he’s just two, and we still have them for major things. I have him go to his room and take a breather. I have heard that you shouldn’t have kids do time outs in their room because it will make them associate their room with being bad and you don’t want that, but I don’t have anything else that works for him. And he does still love to go into his room and play and read books, so I just keep them to a minimum – the serious stuff. These days it is usually for not being able to control his temper, so when it gets to the point where I know he needs to calm down, I just calmly tell him to go lay down for a few minutes. It always does the trick.

    As for walking in the street, well that’s a different matter. And don’t beat yourself up, it was the first time she did something like this. In essence, she didn’t know there was a consequence for her actions, so telling her no and “danger!” was the best you could do. Next time you will have an action plan. I think you handled it just right.

    Over the last several months we’ve been working on holding hands while in parking lots and the such. I explain to Brice that being in the parking lot is “Danger!” (thanks to a friend that does this, too) and put a lot of emphasis on it. And you know what? He knows now how important it is to not go in the street without me and my hand.

  3. Holy Crazy. This is yet another reason I’m glad I’m not a parent as I would have probably freaked out. I probably would have spanked out of reaction, but there in lies the problem. It sounds like you kept your cool and did the right thing. “No” is a very powerful word — I’m sure she’ll soon learn it’s defiance too. I don’t know what the correct way to discipline is. Time-outs are only as effective as we make them.

    I can’t imagine being responsible for an entire person’s sense of moral center. Good Luck!!! 🙂

  4. I think what you do really depends on the nature of the child. Here’s what worked for us, and maybe it will for you, but maybe not.
    We had “spankable offenses.” A spankable offense was a behavior she knew was wrong and that had severe potential to harm herself or others. I think there were only about four or five. Leaving the yard, turning on stove burners, playing with the door handle in the car, and opening the knife drawer were spankable offenses. The hard thing was, we did have to spank her to make this work. However, we spanked her twice and that was it (three swats, diapered butt, but oh the indignity!). At thirteen years old now, she doesn’t remember being spanked.
    The upside was that we could go anywhere at all, tell her what the spankable offenses were, and never have to worry one iota.
    Other problems were variously dealt with by making her clean up the mess she made, do chores to earn the money to replace something she broke, or end up at preschool in jammies because she didn’t get herself dressed in time. I’d never dream of spanking for those kinds of things.
    Spankable offenses wouldn’t have worked for my brother as a kid. His hide was too tough. One of my cousins wouldn’t spank her kids, but neither could she take her kids anywhere in public, nor even to grandma’s w/out this whole indoor fence set-up. I always thought that my twice-spanked daughter was way more privileged and had more personal dignity remaining than my cousin’s non-spanked kids, although I think she’d argue the opposite.

  5. Absolutely horrifying. I’m with you, though, I would have been so scared and shocked and relieved I would have been frozen and just happy to be holding her in my arms. We’re only at 15 months, but I know this day will come. I also am just learning to discipline. At daycare, they don’t do time-outs, but rather do “re-direction”. That’s what we’re trying to do at home as well. And she hasn’t done anything “serious” yet, just splashing the dogs water and throwing her sippy cup. But she’s high-energy, it will come. And I hope your readers keep the advice coming. I’ll need it!

  6. No, you shouldn’t have spanked her. Once I was watching a mom who did something very interesting, at least for me. Her daughter knew that she shouldn’t run around, so when she still did this, her mother stepped quietly to her, held her for an arm and whispered in her ear that this was wrong. Girl caused no problems later that day, while a boy, whose parents yelled at him not to do this and that, did exactly this and that.

    I also support “redirection” that Jenn writes about. But in this case you couldn’t redirect her, I know.

  7. That was scary! I would have spanked. But then again I live in a country where spanking isn’t controversial.

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