How Long Should A 1 Year Old Go Without Peeing Why Social Conscience Needs To Change To See Smacking Children As Unacceptable

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Why Social Conscience Needs To Change To See Smacking Children As Unacceptable

I pushed my daughter back into the nasturtium bed. It was the worst moment of my parenting career.

The situation was… Back against the wire mesh fence for the failed passion fruit plant. Elka was drinking from a bottle, wearing a cute little red and white polka dot hat. “What are you doing, mom?” he asked, as he does a thousand times a day. He started playing with the sick passion fruit plant, playing with… pulling.

“Stop, Elka, please.” I warned. He does not.

‘Stop! Elki, the plant is very sick. You have to stop.” He pulled harder. I pushed him out of it and he fell back, his little face white with shock – he was irradiated by the nasturtium bed and his red bonnet. His bottle was in his hand. He started It took me a few moments to realize what I had done , and answer.

“Oh my dear girl, I’m so sorry,” I cried, wrapping her in my arms. She cried and stroked my face. In between goofs he asked, “Are you okay mom? What’s wrong?” I’ll never forgive myself, I thought. He is so pure. So innocent and kind.

This was because I got frustrated and resorted to physical injury. If you know me personally, you know this goes against everything I believe and preach. Physically harming a child is never, ever acceptable. You are here to protect, nurture and love your child.

My heart collapsed in my chest and I soberly tried to meditate the pain away. It wouldn’t go through. It was stuck in my chest – a fat, ugly stone, wedged.

I never thought I would write about this incident because I buried it under My shameful layers. How could I verbally protect children’s rights with mini-talk to friends and then turn around and push my children away? How could I face the conflict?

The purpose of writing it is to expose my shame and discuss a topic I feel very strongly about.

Last year I was shocked to read an article that said 85% of people surveyed in Australia admit to hitting their child and only 8% regret it. Really? Are we so stuck in the past? Caning children at school has not been acceptable for a long time. In other developed countries, hitting children is illegal. In Australia it is illegal to abuse another adult, but it is not illegal to hit a child. The conflict between harming an adult and harming a child is actually prescribed. How can this be?

Writer Kerri Sackville was on Sunrise shortly after this article appeared. He said there’s a difference between tapping a child’s thumb lightly to stop it from rolling — in fact, sometimes that’s the only way — and hitting a child. His mission was to advocate for the rights of parents who choose to spank their children. The Sunrise crew joked that little old New Zealand actually has a law against hitting children – they failed to mention that most European countries have the same legal standards as New Zealand.

If I had any doubts about the overall vision Kerr and the Sunrise team represented, my fears were confirmed in the local gaming group. Three women were standing around talking about motherhood tactics (like you do in playgroup). A very large woman wearing high-heeled black patent leather boots proudly announced to the circle that her three-year-old had recently learned the meaning of “one, two, three, shark…” Apparently, for the second time, “One, two, three…” began, dear little boy ran off to clean his room before the “taste”. Discipline out of fear? I guess that’s one way of parenting and unfortunately in Australia it’s a normal, accepted way of disciplining children.

As usual, I agree with Pinky McKay on this one. In Toddler Tactics, Pinky writes:

According to other research on the effects of physical punishment, while children may comply in the short term, they do not learn the desired behavior (remember, discipline means ‘teaching’). It’s very likely that when your kids push the boundaries further, you’ll find yourself hitting harder as your frustration levels increase. There is also increasing evidence that physical punishment may be associated with more aggressive or antisocial behavior, emotional damage, and cognitive decline. In a 2002 review of longitudinal studies published in Psychologist, psychologist Dr. Penelope Leach found that barking was associated with a fivefold increase in infant noncompliance; sibling abuse of children under 10 quadrupled; double the rate of physical aggression among six-year-olds in school playgrounds; and increased likelihood if substance abuse and criminal activity in youth. (McKay, p. 2008. Toddler Tactics. p. 63).

Once upon a time, it was acceptable for teachers to spank children in school. It was also acceptable for husbands to occasionally beat their wives if they got out of line. Fortunately, neither of these things are accepted in today’s Australian society, so I live in hope that our feelings about hitting children as discipline will also change.

After Kerr’s Sunrise interview, I wrote on her Facebook page that I was saddened by the views she expressed. In my mind, he was waving the green flag about hitting kids and implicitly condoning child abuse. No parent is perfect and maybe, like me, we give in to frustration and irritation and do something we regret. However, the point is that the social conscience must change to see barking in children as unacceptable. It has happened in other countries too – for example in Holland, where my husband is from, children barking is frowned upon. It’s not something you can brag about at playgroup. If the bar is raised, at least we have an ethical standard to strive for. Sometimes we humans slip up and make a mistake, but I hope we at least try to take care and protect our children. Care for their delicate souls. Do as nature intended.

My toddler has been exhibiting challenging behaviors recently, such as intentionally peeing on the floor or car seat while driving. I could get mad, yell and scream and possibly hit him to try and teach him a lesson. But I know it doesn’t make any sense. All I’m teaching him by doing this is that it’s OK to yell and scream and hit. Children learn by example. If we are kind and soft, they will follow us. If we say thank you and thank you, they will. If we are frustrated and anxious, they will mimic our behavior. Even though I’m frustrated and want to yell and scream, I bite my tongue and think what’s really effective is to stay calm and explain to him that it’s not OK to pee randomly and on purpose. Toddler-eeze: Pees go in the toilet, otherwise mom has to do more laundry and mop the floor.

The case of passionfruit vines is a good lesson for me. The pain caused by the incident is etched so deep into my skin that even if I try, I can’t forget it. It’s a reminder that I can be frustrated and violent towards a child, as much as it hurts me. When the moment heats up, I have to cool down and think about what is good for my child and what is good for the situation. Violence is never the answer.

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