Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Discipline vs Abuse

Here is my 5 minute brain dump as part of this great series. Here goes …

Just today my husband and I were discussing the issue of discipline. BiP is 17m old and is obviously into everything. As an energetic toddler she needs boundaries.

The subject of discipline is a serious subject. Neither of us want to smack or hit her.

Instead we want to try and use the power of our voice to say “Hey BiP, we mean business.”

At one point in the conversation DH shrugged and said “All kids are beaten at some point. Look at us, we turned out ok.” (this was NOT him condoning physical punishment as discipline)

To which I replied, “NO, not all children are beaten. Smacked maybe, beaten no.”

The look on his face said it all. It took a while for him to comprehend. DH is much better than me at not looking back at the bad things in the past. Whereas, now as a mother, I do a lot of reflecting.

I was beaten as a child. By beaten I mean with objects. I was signed off swimming for 2 weeks when I was 7. I had said something I didn’t understand to a friend who told her mum who reported it. I refused to repeat it to my mother. So it was beaten out of me. It happened countless times.

I never for once thought anything of it. EVERY kid is beaten when they do and say bad things. Right? Well, no. That’s called abuse. No matter how hard my mother hugged me tight and told me she loved me that never excused the fact I was bruised and broken inside.

I can say that now as an adult who is now a mother.

It is hard not to repeat history. Oh it is. When BiP tests my patience I feel the urge to smack her but hold myself back. What will it achieve if I do smack her? Nothing. I don’t want it to escalate and become ok. I don’t want her to blog about it in 25 years time. I don’t want to regret it.

I’m out of time, just as well, I wish there was a pill for avoiding repeating history.

Where do you draw the line between discipline and abuse?


This is my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post at all.things.fadra.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.


16 thoughts on “Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Discipline vs Abuse

  1. Karen

    I was at boarding school in Scotland, before they changed the laws stopping corporal punishment. I was hit with a cane, and a gymshoe, several times in my school career. I still remember it, to this day.
    I’m anti smacking, certainly anti beating children. I do think there is a difference between a swat on the bottom for a dangerous behaviour (Em has been smacked twice in her life, once when she ran out onto a road, deliberately defying me, and one other time. Literally, one swat on her bum, with my hand, with clothes on) and beating a child, or multiple smacks. I regret smacking her, and we don’t now, and won’t use it for Matthew.
    My grandmother used to throw objects at us, when she was angry, her shoe, her empty tea cup, a wooden spoon, whatever came to hand, if we were naughty, or mouthy to her, or blasphemed, or mentioned anything that “wasn’t talked about” like sex, or anything she didn’t approve of. My mother also washed my mouth out with soap, slapped my face when I was rude to her, and thought nothing of a few smacks on our bare legs when we were smaller.
    I’ve read quotes from books, on child training which are still legally published in this country, and the US, where they advocate hitting children, young babies even, and it makes me want to vomit when I read stuff like that. Fortunately, I don’t know of anyone who uses them, I don’t think I could be friends with someone who did.
    I’m sorry you suffered as a child, it’s horrible, and we as a generation know better, that there are better, more gentle, and more effective ways to discipline our children, because we know what was done to us in the name of discipline was wrong.

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      I do hope so! Thanks for sharing Karen!

  2. Good Girl Gone Green

    I am so sorry about what you went through, Ameena! I am a social worker for child protective services back in Canada and I know too well how abuse can affect a child. I can’t even imagine what you and other children have gone through. I too get frustrated with my DD but I would never hit her. I usually just try to breath and walk away for a second.

    By recognizing that history can be repeated already puts you ahead of the game. I am so sure you are a great mom from reading your blog and tweeting with you! 🙂

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Thanks so much 🙂

  3. Lindsay

    being a parent is the hardest and most important job in the world. We all know that most of us have something from our upbringing that we are hoping not to carry on. Good Girl Gone Green is right, recognizing that history can repeat itself is half the battle. Good luck!

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Thank you Lindsay!

  4. KH99

    Here from SOC Sunday. Wow, what a powerful post. I agree about recognizing potential land mines being a step in the right direction. I’m sorry for what you went through but applaud your efforts to keep it from continuing.

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Thanks so much!

  5. C

    We’ve done time out since E was around BIP’s age. As she’s become more verbal we either ask her what she did to deserve time out (or, when she was younger we were specific with her why she was in time and asked for a specific apology). However, there have been a few instances where her hand was swatted (reaching for something hot or potentially dangerous), and I eventually had to resort to pulling her hair (not hard, but enough that she was discomforted) when she wouldn’t stop pulling mine even with time outs so that she would understand that it hurt.

    We aren’t a spanking family. The hand swats were more a reflexive reaction to keep her from getting hurt than a deliberate attempt to hurt her, so I wouldn’t categorize them as “discipline” per se…and I’ve always apologized and explained why Mommy used her hands instead of her words. The hair thing was discipline and I’m not thrilled about it…I really wanted time outs to work (the way they’ve generally worked in all areas or the 1,2, 3 count works) and it sucked when it didn’t. But the hair pulling was getting out of hand (both my husband and I have longer hair) so…it came to that. I don’t know what we would’ve done if it hadn’t worked–I wouldn’t have used a spanking.

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Thanks for sharing Crystal! BiP is bald still so that won’t work. She pulls my hair and it drives me nuts. A hand swat has proved effective so far

  6. Fadra

    Great question. Whether or not you choose to spank your children, it is DEFINITELY different than beating them. I grew up with the occasional spanking or slap across the mouth. It was mostly effective and certainly memorable. My husband has been a spanker but he finally realized it didn’t accomplish anything except resentment from my son. I have spanked my son a few times when I felt it was necessary. But now that he is 4 and pretty logical, it doesn’t make sense to me. In fact in never seemed terribly effective. I will admit that I have let my anger get the best of me and felt urges to hit. I have walked away and confessed to my husband. It’s hard to walk the line because so much of what our parents have done affect who we become.

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Yes, there is a difference. A huge one. I am not against a spank on the bottom. I do tap BiP’s hand when she does something dangerous like try to touch the BBQ or shove her fingers inside the DVD player!

  7. Expatdoctormom

    Dear Ameena

    Thank you for your honesty. We also got spanked as children. The fear of God was instilled in us if we didn’t behave/respect. It bred anger instead. But as adults we all enjoyed much better relationships with our parents.

    I hear you on not wanting to repeat history. Yes, all children at some point drive you to the edge. Our son used to stop after one “time out” But our daughter will go through 4,5,6,7,8 time outs for the same behavior. It is really hard to keep your cool by the 8th one! (Who am I kidding even by the 2nd and 3rd time out).

    It sounds so easy: don’t take your children’s behavior personally. But you do.

    To answer your question about the difference between discipline and abuse, this is the best quote I found from the book: The Bully, The bullied and the Bystander” by Barbara Coloroso: Discipline leaves a child integrity intact, Abuse/Punishment does not. This was in reference to how to discipline the bully and allow for them to change.

    For this age, I like: 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan It is pretty good had helping us parents keep our cool. Similar to time outs. Tips for this are that it takes awhile for the 2 year old to get it. It was maybe 6-9 mos before our daughter understood the process.


    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Thanks for sharing and for the tips Rajka! You rock!

  8. Galit Breen

    Important words and thoughts and “dump.”

    What struck me most – it’s hard to not repeat history. Oh yes, it is.

    My parents did a lot of yelling. Better than physical abuse, for sure. But I still remember it, it still makes me flinch, and I still work very hard to not repeat history.

    {You did good here.}

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Thank you Galit – By saying it’s hard not to repeat history because unless we recognise it as something wrong we do it without thinking … I know it’s possible, very possible to do things differently and that’s what we intend to do 110%


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