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Old 02-21-2012, 08:49 AM   #1
txstepmom
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Default Step parent/step child discipline...

I had great fun reading the spanking debate threads! So I wanted to ask my own questions regarding spanking and other forms of discipline from a step parent perspective.

How many of you have a biological child who spends time with a step parent? And those of you with that situation, do you agree with that step parent disciplining your child when necessary?

If you, yourself, are an advocate of spanking, does that disciplinary tactic extend to the step parent (assuming you trust that person to practice good judgement)? Or do you expect the biological parent to handle all discipline and leave the step parent out of it?

Now, let me say that I do not think that resorting to a spanking in every situation or as a 1st level of punishment is right. I DO believe that not all children benefit (for lack of a better term) from spankings just as not all children benefit from taking things away or time outs.

I grew up with a mom and dad who spanked our bottoms when we misbehaved. Mom used a big wooden spoon. Do I feel I was abused? No way. Was it effective? Yes it was. We also got soap in our mouths when we wouldn't stop sassing. Let me tell ya - that leaves an impression and it only happened a couple times b/c I learned to bite my tongue! Did it damage me in any way? No.

Again, just b/c I was raised with some amount of corporal punishment... doesn't mean I think it is effective in every situation with every child. My SD10's (10yo step daughter - is that the right shorthand? I'm new to this) mother spanks her but does not want me or my husband to spank. In fact she'd rather us not punish in any way. She about has a coronary over the subject. Well, sorry, but when the child misbehaves, she's going to be punished. And I'm not of the opinion that the "Wait until your father gets home" strategy is effective. I spend a lot of time with my step daughter and DH is not always home - discipline is practiced as needed.

Now, when she was younger taking things away simply did not work! She was not attached to anything deeply enough to care about not having it. No TV? Didn't care. No [insert other fun activity here]? Didn't care. But the thought of a spanking scared her into obedience! Most of the time a threat would be enough. The times she thought the threats were idle and kept misbehaving, she got spanked and we always reinforced the punishment by making sure she understood the action/consequence. Spankings have been very few and far between but for HER, they WORK where other punishments did not!

A little older now, she has a few things that are important enough to her that grounding works. Her favorite sweater, Nintendo DS, mp3 player, no sleepover with grandma, etc... she thinks twice when faced with losing these privileges. However, we've had a problem now and then with lying (and I've never seen anybody stick to a story like this girl!) and arguing/disobeying. Her BM tells her all the time that we are not allowed to spank her so she test the waters sometimes. And she still sometimes gets spanked.

I read in the other spanking threads that 10-12 years old is too old for spanking. I don't think so - not when they throw themselves on the floor and ACT 3 years old! Some instances call for whatever works to punctuate the fact that they can not lie/disobey/back talk/etc... and sometimes grounding just doesn't get the point across.

I'm also of the opinion that a little bit of embarrassment goes a long way. We've had to discipline in front of friends/family a few times when she thought she'd get away with something simply b/c there were other people around. Being ashamed of your bad behavior is a characteristic that will serve well into adulthood, I think. I work at a high school and daily see the results of absentee parenting. As teenagers, they have gotten away with too much without consequence throughout their lives and it shows.

And my last question - for you step parents out there who are faced with situations requiring discipline, what are the strategies you've found MOST effective???
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

Let me say I don't think anyone "advocates" spanking. The debate was about if it could be used effectively and without harm.

Kinda a trick question. Even though I am not a step. The question could be posed for my brother or grandmother in law ect... any one who provides care.

I think it has to do a lot with the amount of trust you have in the person you are referring to. When the kids are with my brother or the inlaws. I tell them that they follow the rules of the house and tell grandpa or whoever in front of the kids if they need to spank they can. But I do this secure in the knowledge that its not likely they will. And if they did they would have a really good reason. I know them well enough and trust them enough. That I feel comfortable with that.

You however are in a different situation with the Bio mom. And as a divorce is likely in my future I can say I would have a problem with whoever my soon-to-be-Ex was with spanking the kids.

Since you and the Ex have a clearly adversarial relationship. I can see it would be a problem. I can also see how that could escalate to the point of becoming a major point of contention.

My opinion is I would come up with some other way. I am not saying you cant. Just that I would avoid it like the plague. There are several other very effective strategies. I think I would read up on them and try to become an expert at implementing them.

I know that's probably not what you want to hear. And its not really what I want to tell you. But the fact is Bio mom does not and probably will not have that kind of trust in you. Right or wrong, I think that's a fact you just cant get around.

A good jumping off point for researching strategies for parenting or discipline is the WiKi. I use it a lot and they generally link to anything you may want to check out.
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

the trick is to teach them from birth that you demand good behavior and respect from them and you can do it without having to lay a hand on them if you start early enough. my kids get the "timeout" punishment and it works well most of the time. they hate having to sit there and stare at the door for any lenghth of time. another trick we use is physical (not violent) punishment. for example when my 10yo talks back its 20 pushups. now see that doesnt work for all my kids. i tell my 7yo daughter to do that and she will laugh at me and do 60 just to spite me. timeouts are her horror. my 16mo has even gotten the point of a timeout and knows he doesnt like them so when he does something wrong and has to get taken out of play time and put in his bed for a min or 2 he doesnt like it and when he is let free he doesnt do it again. you got to start it young. you will never have a nned to raise a hand to them.

another trick is brutal honesty in gorey detail. personal experiance helps. for example, my daughter used to never stop and look before running. well i explained to her what could have happened then showed her pictures of what it looks like after being hit by a car and ill tell you what, she hasnt run out in the road since. another example is my 10yo was trying to read under his blankets with a candle(this was before we took full custody from his bio mom) i showed him what a house that burnt down looked like along with what a burn victim looks like and explained just how lucky he was. he hasnt done it since. sometimes you have to scare some sence into them.
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

Quote:
Now, when she was younger taking things away simply did not work! She was not attached to anything deeply enough to care about not having it. No TV? Didn't care. No [insert other fun activity here]? Didn't care. But the thought of a spanking scared her into obedience!
so the point of what you call discipline is to hurt and scare the child?
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

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Originally Posted by TabascoNatalie View Post
so the point of what you call discipline is to hurt and scare the child?
Effective correction of disobedience, rebellion, belligerence, etc. is what I call discipline. When grounding, revoking privileges, time outs don't work *which they do not for all kids at all stages of life* how do you effectively discipline?? You make it sound as if I intend to terrify and beat a child. If that were my goal I'd not be in a parenting forum. That said, a properly administered spanking to a child's bottom - and yes, that's briefly painful - makes a point where other tactics don't.

I don't believe there is any set list of rules for how to discipline. If you'll read my original post more carefully, you'll see that. It's not about whether or not you think spanking is acceptable. Nonetheless, as I also previously said, there are times when putting them in a corner does not correct their behavior. Trust me. I've tried it all. Would yo say that sitting an 18-month old child in the corner or taking away a toy effectively teaches them not to hit their sibling or whatever the behavior might be? I've not seen that work. But a quick flick to the back of the hand gets their attention and does not inflict harm. Scare them a little about what the next step is if they don't obey?? That's a far cry from "hurting and scaring them".

I'd rather spank a child for continually running into the street and scare them than have them get hit by a car because a time out did not work well enough for them to learn that obeying can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. I was in that exact situation as a child. I started to run across a parking lot and my mom yelled stop - had I not obeyed, I'd be dead. And I was a sassy, difficult child and got plenty of spankings when I didn't obey. Grounding didn't work for me, not even into high school. Taking the car away? I didn't care. I found other things to do.

Spare the rod; spoil the child. That doesn't mean beat them! It means apply what discipline works.

On the other hand, I'm also a firm believer of positive reinforcement. I'm sure this will get blown way out of proportion but try not to take it the wrong way - "training" a child follows a lot of the same principles as training an animal. They respond very well to positive reinforcement. They also respond to physical consequences. If you dog keeps nipping at you, do you put them in time out? Do you just wait til they stop then give them a treat? No, you usually swat them on the nose. Eventually they get the point. Another example - at some time in our lives we've all probably burned ourselves on a hot stove or pan, right? We knew it was hot, knew it was "wrong" to touch it but did it anyway. The pain from a burn teaches us to think twice the next time, right?? Kids fall off their bikes. It hurts. We tell them to get back on! Are we encouraging them to keep hurting themselves? No... we encourage them to learn to ride so they don't get hurt. IMO, that applies to obedience as well. We encourage them to get it right so they grow up safely and with good character. If there are a few bumps along the way... well, that's life.

Momtoallkids - I love your constructive ideas!! Thank you. Bssage, yes the relationship with BM is adversarial, much to my dismay. Were it the other way around, you better believe my child's step parent would be my best friend! LOL If I give the impression that spanking is a regular occurance, it isn't. In 7 years, I've probably handed out a spanking 3 times and only because DH was not going to be home anytime soon and the situation called for it. I always try other ways 1st and let DH handle spanking if needed... just curious about other situations that may be similar to mine and how the stepmom handles them.
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Old 02-22-2012, 09:51 AM   #6
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

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Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
"training" a child follows a lot of the same principles as training an animal.
this could be taken wrong also. But I am a big fan of "The Dog Whisperer" and use his calm assertive energy approach with the kids quite a bit
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Old 02-22-2012, 12:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

I am technically a step-mom to 2 of my children. In the beginning when I was trying to keep her involved (the bio-mom) I did abide her rules of discipline. However,s he stepped out of the picture a few months in and I have raised them ever since (they were very little) so I try to not say that I am a step parent even though legally I am.

Like I said in the other thread. I have no problem with a swat to the butt. My stance to you was that the bio-mom said that she did not want you spanking her child...regardless of whether or not she does. As long as she is the custodial parent, I feel that her wants should be 'respected'.

Now for her to say that you can not discipline the child. I would call bull on that one. I will discipline anyone's child who is in my house and does something wrong. There is just a line that I will not cross and that is spanking someone else's child, even if they say I can. I feel that a spanking should only be handled by the parent. That's my belief, doesn't mean that others are wrong.
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

I respect your opinion. My personal issue with K's BM becomes more than just "she doesn't want me to spank"... it becomes a card to play by K. Her BM tells her all the time that I have no authority over her, that I'm not allowed to make decisions or discipline beyond suspending privileges. BM is one of the most manipulative people I've had the displeasure of knowing and drags her child into her dislike for both DH and I. So K thinks she can use the "my mommy said you can't spank me" excuse when she's in trouble and doesn't like the upcoming consequence, regardless of what it is. Does that make sense? It's important to us that she doesn't question authority from parents, grandparents, step parents, etc. Having that "ace" up her sleeve makes her more rebellious. So it is complicated as all blended family situations are, I think!
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
I respect your opinion. My personal issue with K's BM becomes more than just "she doesn't want me to spank"... it becomes a card to play by K. Her BM tells her all the time that I have no authority over her, that I'm not allowed to make decisions or discipline beyond suspending privileges. BM is one of the most manipulative people I've had the displeasure of knowing and drags her child into her dislike for both DH and I. So K thinks she can use the "my mommy said you can't spank me" excuse when she's in trouble and doesn't like the upcoming consequence, regardless of what it is. Does that make sense? It's important to us that she doesn't question authority from parents, grandparents, step parents, etc. Having that "ace" up her sleeve makes her more rebellious. So it is complicated as all blended family situations are, I think!
All children have a card to play and all children will play their parents against each other. The older they get the more they do it, it is about testing boundaries. The next time she says that to you I would say..."You are right, and I won't because I will respect this one request from your mom. However, that does not mean that you can do as you want, when you want. Certain actions will always have a consequence." Then dish out a consequence.

One thing that might work in your situation is sitting down with her and setting up some house rules. Allow her to help decide what the consequence will be each time she breaks a rule. You can make it a straight across the board, meaning that every time she breaks a rule it will be X that happens or you can be creative for each new rule.

I have done this with my older set (the younger are still a little young but they'll get one also here soon). It's adjusted over the years, but it's been great and cut's down on a lot of the "I didn't know that" that kids also like to do.

Just a thought, sometimes giving them a say in what happens helps them feel like there is some power...even in a punishment.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: Step parent/step child discipline...

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Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
Effective correction of disobedience, rebellion, belligerence, etc. is what I call discipline.
Yet the root of the word comes from "disciple" which means a learner-mentor relationship. Since them, we use the word in a way that distort its original intent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
When grounding, revoking privileges, time outs don't work *which they do not for all kids at all stages of life* how do you effectively discipline??
You could also revise your definition of discipline, take a step back, and wonder why it's not working - rather than resorting to escalation of punishment to the upper level, using more of the same tactic.

And what if the spanking does not work - what do you do then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
You make it sound as if I intend to terrify and beat a child. If that were my goal I'd not be in a parenting forum.
I don't think there is any genuine parent spanker who believe or intend to terrify and/or beat their children. The question isn't what the spanker thinks they do. It's how the child sees and feels it. It is sort-of an oxymoron: if it wasn't scary and painful, it wouldn't work right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
That said, a properly administered spanking to a child's bottom - and yes, that's briefly painful - makes a point where other tactics don't.
But does it makes the point you think it makes, in the child's brain?
And does it makes a lot of other unwanted points?

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
There are times when putting them in a corner does not correct their behavior.
Indeed. There are times when punishment doesn't work.
Why is it that thinking of more ways to increase more punishments is seen as a solution? What is the root cause of the child's resistance to your teaching?

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
Trust me. I've tried it all.
Within your definition of "discipline" as stated above, I believe you have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
Would yo say that sitting an 18-month old child in the corner or taking away a toy effectively teaches them not to hit their sibling or whatever the behavior might be?
No more than a spanking. None of the above acts will teach a 18 month old (a year and a half!) not to hit their sibling, because:
a) at 18 month old, you don't even understand that other people hurt when you hit them
b) at 18 months old, the human brain in its early stage of development is not able to understand that other human being feels, thinks and perceive differently than they do (this is called the 'child egocentrism' effect in developmental psychology)
c) Their smaller motor skills are not developed enough to fully be controlled without a lot of demonstration (modeling) and training (repetitions)

The best effective way to teach a toddler not to hit is to catch him/her in the act, then take their hand in your hand and re-do the act with them, gently and softly, while you repeat "soooooft". Show what to do and do it with them; telling them what not to do at that age is useless.
So is the punishment or the spanking: they can't even make the connection between what they did or why they did it and the negative feelings of fear, anxiety and pain that you inflict on them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
I've not seen that work. But a quick flick to the back of the hand gets their attention and does not inflict harm. Scare them a little about what the next step is if they don't obey?? That's a far cry from "hurting and scaring them".
An 18 month old toddler receiving a flick to the back of the hand when they hit their brother will stop because all of their focus and attention is now on the pain and the sheer surprise of the betrayal of being hurt by the person they are programmed to follow and seek support from.
I can promise you that at that age, at that point they don't even remember what they "did" and have no way to make the link.
What they *DO* get however is that obviously hitting is OKAY, because mom just did it to him/her. Modeling is in full power at that age.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
I'd rather spank a child for continually running into the street and scare them...
Wait. If they are continually running into the street, then how can you claim your spanking works? If it did, they wouldn't do it again, now, would they? See above about why spanking doesn't teach what you claim it does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
Spare the rod; spoil the child.
Religion as the basis for spanking, then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
I'm sure this will get blown way out of proportion but try not to take it the wrong way - "training" a child follows a lot of the same principles as training an animal.
In your own definition of discipline, I can see why you would think that.
Yet children aren't animals: unlike animals, they have language. They can learn why something should or should not be done.
In neurobiological term, children can learn from their higher brain function - the frontal cortex - even if it is a long training process that takes 25 years to fully complete. Animals can only use their reflex/reptilian flight/flight/freeze response, and so you are limited to training them (through reward and punishment, what Dr Skinner calls 'operand conditioning'), rather than teachingthem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
Another example - at some time in our lives we've all probably burned ourselves on a hot stove or pan, right? We knew it was hot, knew it was "wrong" to touch it but did it anyway. The pain from a burn teaches us to think twice the next time, right??
Are you suggesting children should see their parent and their parent's decision with the fear you may still have in you after you have burned yourself on the stove? I understand why TabascoNatalie was asking you about scaring and hurting children?

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
Kids fall off their bikes. It hurts. We tell them to get back on! Are we encouraging them to keep hurting themselves?
Bikes aren't raising a child. Nor are stoves. Parents are.
Children do not have deep psychological dependency to bikes and stoves. Their relationship with the stove or their bike do not define their entire life. They do not require unconditional love from their bikes or stove.
That's why natural consequences are effective - because they teach, yes, but without the detrimental aspect of eroding the crucial attachment relationship that develops between parent and child.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txstepmom View Post
IMO, that applies to obedience as well. We encourage them to get it right so they grow up safely and with good character.
I don't know, in my world, it is understanding and critical thinking, not blind obedience, that I would want to develop as an objective for children.
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