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Moms Talk: The Right Punishment Model

A recent news event got me thinking about discipline.

Kristi's Question: Where should we draw the line when it comes to punishing a child?

I had heard the story but didn't see the actual footage of the abuse until this morning while watching the news.

A mom in Alaska was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse for forcing her adopted son to drink hot sauce and take cold showers as punishment for misbehaving. 

At first, it didn't sound all that bad—a little unorthodox maybe, but not too awful or disturbing. But the video she sent to Dr. Phil appalled me. I thought, "That poor boy!!" followed by, "Who the heck gave her the right to adopt a child!? This woman is horrible!"

With a 2-year-old daughter and a baby on the way, I'm aware the childhood years ahead will include a lot of misbehavin'. And while I'm not about to abuse anybody pepper-sauce-style, I also know you can't be so lenient as to let kids think they can get away with anything. 

Where's the line? How do you approach punishing your child?

If you have a method of picking your spots as a disciplinarian, tell us in the comment section below. 

Kelly Porter August 24, 2011 at 07:45 PM
I find that punishment is not what I really want to dole out to my children. It includes the idea that "I" punish you if you don't do what "I" say. I prefer the idea of consequences. Consequences occur when "you" do something "you" know is wrong. If "you" hit your friend when "you" know that hurts, then "you" may not play with your friend. This is a natural consequence to hitting. It takes the onus off the parents as the punisher, and allows the consequences to come from the actions, not the parents. The actions are the things that need to be changed. We want our children to learn to behave by themselves, not to behave only when we are around to punish! Eventually they learn consequences from other children. If you hit them, they won't play with you. Natural consequences take more time and explanation than punishing, but in the long run you will have a child who makes good choices by themselves.
Kristi Gilbert August 24, 2011 at 09:12 PM
I like that idea Kelly! Thanks for your point of view. :)
Traci Curtis August 24, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Kelly, while I agree with your concept of consequences I still think that children need to have some "healthy" fear of their parents and of authority figures. I want them to know that when I say to do or not to do something, they will be accountable if they decide to go against what I say. My fear is having a child that looks at me like a friend first and a parent later. I think some people err on the side of friendship a little too much and do not teach their children respect for parents/elders/authority figures, etc. In this day and age people may not agree with spanking either but I feel that there are some situations that warrant it. I did not see the "hot sauce" mom in action and I am not sure that I want to. As parents, we need to know when to draw the line between punishment and abuse and that sounds abusive. Just my 2 cents...
Monica Thompson August 25, 2011 at 03:25 PM
I believe Kelly and Traci both have valid points. I'm a parent of a special needs child so discipline is a very difficult area in my life as a parent. My daughter, who will be three in November, is at that tender age where everything she does isn't "cute" anymore. The problem that I have is knowing the difference between deliberate and disability. I attend as many parenting groups as my schedule will allow but I still can't seem to get a handle on it. It's called "parenting" for a reason, as the parent of your child, you shouldn't second guess your idea of what good parenting should be. I find that following through is most important by far. If you say that there will be a time out when your child disobeys then time out it is and the same goes with spanking or any other consequence. When you don't, your child begins not to trust you and trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship.

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