I get it. I really do. I can still see the splatters of formula dripping down the kitchen window when I threw a baby bottle in a rage somewhere between child one and child two. Apparently I’ve got lots of company in my explosive emotions.
Last month, Parenting joined forces with HLN’s Raising America with Kyra Phillips for an uncensored look at moms’ most revealing confessions. Together we surveyed more than 1,000 readers, viewers, and social-media fans from around the country to get the scoop on how they really feel about parenthood.
A full 60 percent of moms admitted to totally freaking out (yelling, throwing something, storming out of the room) on their kids a few times. One in five moms said screaming at their kids was a regular occurrence. And a whopping 78 percent of moms today say they’ve spanked their kids, or at least given them a swat. Ouch.
We all know this is no way to discipline kids—April 30 has been National Spank Out Day for the last 15 years to raise awareness that corporal punishment is never the way to go—yet we can’t seem to stop.
“Parenting can be trying and difficult at times, and moms and dads find themselves behaving or considering behavior they would not have resorted to in normal circumstances,” explains Adelle Cadieux, Psy.D., a pediatric psychologist at Spectrum Health’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI.
Indeed our survey jibes with other research. A 2011 study in Child and Youth Services Review published an article indicating that the percentage of parents who spank their child increased with age: 15 percent did so at 12 months, 40 percent at 18 months, and 50 percent at 20 months, notes Dr. Cadieux.
Toddlerhood is tough phase to be sure, but ironically, spanking at these young ages increases the likelihood that a child will act out even more. Research has found that younger mothers and parents with increased stress are more likely to resort to physical discipline, while children with more behavioral problems are also more likely to be spanked.
"Spanking is a high-risk form of discipline, and there are much safer and effective methods of teaching children to cooperate and behave responsibly,” notes Michael H. Popkin, Ph.D., founder of Active Parenting Publishing.
"It's clear that if we want a less violent world then one of the ways to achieve this is to raise children without violence. Spanking, though a seemingly mild form of violence to an adult, can be very traumatic to a young child. Think of the size differential and imagine yourself spanked by someone ten times your size."
“There is a correlation between children who are shown physical aggression (spanking, slapping) and depression, anxiety, and behavior problems,” agrees Dr. Cadieux. “Children who are shown aggression, tend to exhibit aggression.” A far better option: Help your children understand the consequences of their
actions through non-aggressive means such as time out or restricting a favorite activity.
So the next time you feel like you’re going to freak out, give yourself a time-out before you scream or swat, Mom. Take a deep breath and count to 10, or 20, or 100—whatever it takes. Your kids will thank you—and you’ll be happier, too.
Plus: Get More Discipline Help
We'll explore a new topic--from breastfeeding to spanking to money and sex--everyday this week here on Parenting.com, but be sure to tune into Raising America (check local TV listings) daily for even more juicy revelations from our survey! Click here for the full results of the survey. Click here to make your own confession!