A lesson in following your gut instinct

May 21, 2021 | Faith, Motherhood

I am a learner by nature. It is instinctively a part of who I am and how I thrive, sometimes to a fault. I’ve learned a lot of great things about parenting from books and research which at times has thrown me into a tailspin of anxiety, stress and perfectionism. Somehow though, I’ve always been keenly aware of my gut instinct. 

I remember before I was a parent, I swore I would NEVER spank my kids. There’s that comical “never” word we catch ourselves back tracking on once we become parents. Part of this reasoning came from past life experiences where I did not see profit come out of spanking. 

When my firstborn son was in the terrible three’s he was very stubborn, hard headed, spirited, strong-willed, whatever you want to label it. He would make me so angry at times for disobeying that I wanted to spank him despite my former strong aversion to it. There are a million different books out there about strong willed children and how spanking guides them in the right direction but there was just something inside me that knew it wouldn’t be profitable for him. I finally found one book called “The Spirited Child” that helped me understand his behaviors and actions and provided me with tools to help him thrive.  In the book, the author explains how spanking spirited children could actually be detrimental to them. Now, I don’t know if that is true for every spirited child or not, but it made me think my gut instinct was correct. 

The book explained that spirited kids have a hard time calming themselves down and spanking does the reverse of calming them down. So, instead of spanking, we did the endless time out game and used methods suggested in the book and eventually it worked. There was one time where I was exhausted and tired and I couldn’t take his sheer disobedience. It was like he was pushing every button I had. Out of anger and frustration I spanked him.

It was right then and there I realized I was not using spanking as a form of loving discipline or as a form of teaching him.  Rather, it was a way for me to release my frustration.  I never spanked him again, because I knew I did not have the patience or discipline to control myself from spanking out of anger.  Spanking him only made him more upset to the point where he couldn’t listen to why he was being disciplined. It was not a good learning experience for him, but it taught me to listen to my gut instinct. 

Fast forward 4 years later to my second born. He is the exact opposite of his older brother.  We joke that he lives in “Hawaii” time. He is completely oblivious of time, consequences or how his actions might hurt or affect other people. Timeouts never worked for him like they did for his older brother. We tried to use time outs as a form of discipline for 4 years with him, with no changes in behavior. 

Because he was the baby of the family, he got away with way more than his older brother, as I’m sure you can relate to if you have mutliple kids. His sweet deamnor, big brown eyes and eyelashes that any girl would be jealous of, basically made it so he got away with murder. The older he got, the more he had a hard time controlling his anger and frustration which led to him hitting, biting, kicking, pinching to the point where he would leave marks and bruises on his brother. We tried every form of discipline except spanking. We even tried the eye for an eye method. If he hit his brother, his brother could hit back but even that didn’t work. Usually, the aggressive behavior stemmed from frustration to the point of anger. We tried to find ways to help him control his anger and use his words but it seldom worked. We found ourselves constantly yelling at him and we started to notice that his love language was words of affirmation. Every time we would yell at him, he looked completely defeated like we sucked the soul right out of his little body. It broke my mama heart, and yet, I was at a loss at how to discipline him.  

I sought prayer for wisdom and guidance and then one day it hit me. Spanking was the only thing we had not tried and I knew in my gut it was the right thing to do.  I had done enough personal development and self care by this point, that I knew I could spank as a form of discipline and teaching, not from a place of anger and frustration. 

I explained to my youngest what the consequence of his actions would be.  So, the next time he lashed out in anger I took him to another room and spanked him gently but firmly. He was sad and wrapped his arms around me and we snuggled. We talked about his actions and how we could come up with solutions to help him control his anger when he was frustrated. Because I wasn’t yelling at him and making him feel defeated, he was finally able to hear me and was ready for problem solving.  It worked!! 

He found ways to control his anger when he was frustrated. We found ways to encourage and praise him when he chose to step away instead of lashing out. After just two times of being spanked and implementing the positive reinforcement, the aggressive behavior stopped. To date, I have only had to spank him a handful of times for other incidents. When I find myself reprimanding him over and over for the same thing, I have to remind myself that spanking is the best form of discipline for him even though I prefer to avoid it. 

I have since learned to listen to my gut instinct despite what others around me are doing or recommend. I listen to advice and learn all that I can about a subject and then based off of that information I listen really closely to what my heart and gut tell me. 

Only you get to decide what is right for you and your family. Every child is different. Every family dynamic is different. In the end you have to go with what feels right in your heart.