*** DISCLAIMER: Every parent has their own parenting method. This is mine. ***
I grew up in a time where caning was the de-facto disciplinary tool and other sorts of corporal punishment were widely used. My Primary School Math teacher reveled in twisting our 7 year-old ears with her stubby fingers. Making us line up in single file, she’d whack our knuckles with the edge of a wooden ruler for “making careless mistakes”. She got away with it because parents then chose not to side their children and supported whatever the teachers did regardless of whether it was right or wrong.
It was rare to find a house with children without a cane. One of my friend lived in such a house. That was because her parents used whatever else they could get their hands on instead, from belts to clothes hangers and feather dusters. Their aim was to vent their frustrations on their children and instill fear to prevent repeated incidents.
My parents dangled the cane on the side of the cupboard for easy reach. It had a green curved tip and it was used very frequently. I would run around the house, ducking under the covers and hiding in cupboards to escape being hit. When I sought help from the Other Parent, the Other Parent would ignore me. I remember hating the parent who used the cane. It was very confusing for my young mind to process who to “hate” and “like”. Afterwards, there would be red welts left on my legs, signs to nosy neighbours to tease me more about having misbehaved.
Now that I’m a parent, hitting is still prevalent with the general belief that caning is an effective punishment if adequate explanation and reasoning is given before and after. Some parents believe that the lack of corporal punishment is what makes children “special snowflakes”, demanding for the world to feed them with knowledge, job positions and benefits.
Elise has crossed her second birthday into the “Terrible Twos”. It is terrible indeed, for her, to be required to conform to societal norms at such a young age when some circumstances are beyond her control. She has MAJOR meltdowns (wrestling out from our grip to lie down on the floor in public and cry, yelling, not wanting to sit/stand/walk/run/be carried). The kind where she appears to be an absolute brat, the kind where strangers give THAT DIRTY LOOK and think, “Look at that little brat. Why can’t this woman control her spawn? My children are angels”. My father, however tolerant and patient, is someone who cannot stand tantrums. He does not know how to handle it. I can end the mother of all meltdowns with my boob. Breastmilk has sedative qualities and calming components, so I am her walking tranquiliser.
There are non-boob solutions to controlling misbehaviour without using the cane and it involves removing the child from the situation to cool down before giving a stern explanation. My father has mentioned more than once for me to use the cane to discipline her and I have reasons why I refuse to to do.
The meltdowns happen when she is overly tired and she doesn’t know how to express her emotions or what to do. “A good whacking” will only leave her with bruises and create a learned response to conceal her emotions. Everything happens for a reason. Toddler misbehaviour stems from various factors like curiosity, seeking attention and testing boundaries. Children crave attention. Put down your phones and give unfocused, undivided attention to your child. Listen to them and what they have to say. Partake in their silly games. Draw your 100th car. They are only young this once.
Why I refuse to cane my kids
- It creates negative memories
I clearly remember when I was hit repeatedly with a kid’s umbrella until it snapped by my father, in school, in front of all my classmates and teachers because I didn’t want him to leave for work. I threw a tantrum, he reached boiling point and started hitting me. I was only 4 years old yet it remains in my head. There are ALWAYS basic root causes for toddler meltdowns. In my case, I didn’t want my father to leave me alone but it was not acknowledged. See? That’s one missed opportunity for teaching that could have ended in a pleasant way.
- It teaches them that violence is an appropriate method to resolve misbehaviour
Violence begets violence. Isn’t it ironic that children who are caned by their parents are not allowed to hit their parents or their “naughty” friends? 2 decades ago, I was about 8 years old and the neighbour’s children opposite were making a huge ruckus. Know what I did? I pushed a chair to the cupboard, took The Cane© and was about to open the gates to give them a good whacking when my mother stopped me. This happened because I was caned and believed that it was perfectly fine for me to do that to other children as well.
- There are better methods of discipline
Respectful parenting IS NOT permissive parenting. Treat them with respect and guide them without letting them climb over your head of course. I still have lots to learn.
- Caning in anger is destructive
Can you be sure not to leave injuries when you whip your child repeatedly in anger? This is why it is child abuse.
Misconceptions about caning
- “I was caned and I grew up fine”
Psychology studies say otherwise.
- “Look at all the bratty children. It must be because their parents don’t DISCIPLINE them”
Positive parenting DOES NOT equal permissive parenting. Choosing not to use the cane does not give children a free pass to climb over your head. Choosing to use the cane is taking the easy way out. Anyone can whack children into submission. Are you up for the challenge of studying why children behave the way they do and the respective methods to guide them?
- “You have to be calm when caning and explain to them why they were caned for it to work”
What will your explanation be if your child does the same? Our children are a reflection of ourselves.
- “If you don’t cane them, the state will cane them for you”
With all the recent news of infant/child losses and sudden deaths, any day could be the last you spend with your child(ren). As much as possible, I’d like to see my children smile and grow up into respectful and mindful individuals.