It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Spanking at MIM’s

If you want even more of Mary, you can check me out here. MiM invited me to weigh in as a guest expert on dealing with toddlers without spanking.

Anyway, if you’re interested, go check it out!

May 18, 2006 - Posted by | controversy, parenting


  1. Your post over at MIM’s house is great – I read it twice. I will probably read it again and take notes.

    Comment by Heather | May 18, 2006 | Reply

  2. Mary, your post at MIM’s is really good. I wish I had known you twenty years ago. Yes, I used spanking a few times. Each time I immediatly knew that it was my failure. Oh it stopped behavior, but only because they were then focused on the hurt. When the hurt went away, nothing was changed.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to save copies of your posts, later print them, and give them to my sons when they have children.

    Thank you, Mary.

    Comment by jw | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  3. Checking it out now.

    Comment by Granny | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  4. I’m impressed and left a comment on other blog.

    Comment by Granny | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  5. You are right on! Again.
    I love the ” If you don’t want a two year old to say no don’t ask a yes or no question.”
    This is going to sound wrong but people can train dogs to be obedient without hitting them why can’t they “train” their children?

    Comment by Peter | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  6. Thank you for the wonderful post, Mary P! I’m going to forward it to our Mommy Group, since our toddlers are at wandering age. The useful and thoughtful suggestions will be really useful.

    Q and I went to the park yesterday and had a great time. However, I could have avoided conflict at going-home time by not asking, “Are you ready to go?” 😉

    Comment by Lady M | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  7. Thank you so much for this! I have 8-month-old twins, and I want to raise them to be well-behaved and happy without the trauma and damage of the spankings that I survived as a kid. I’m just not sure what is reasonable to expect from them. Your post was extremely helpful, and I’m going to look back through your archives for more advice. Thank you!!

    Comment by Anonymous | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  8. Mary, I love all the specific examples you always give, as well as the fact that you go through all the potential outcomes – the child refuses, you do this, child refuses on second chance, you do this, the next time, you take this approach, the child has a tantrum, you do this… it’s exactly what parents need. Because people are always quick to say, “but what if I do that and he screams? but I tried that and he kept kicking!”, etc.

    Comment by Kristen | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  9. I just want to say thank you for your post on MIM and your Expect Respect post from March of ’05. My DD is 19 mths old and is a JOY 90% of the time. I love her dearly. I hadn’t really decided yet about the spanking issue, as I have kind of the same thoughts on it that you do; I was spanked (very infrequently) as a child and it hasn’t harmed me and I just kind of expected that I would have to spank as a parent. It seemed the more palatable option than having my child sail through life with no discipline like so many of the children I see in today’s society. But as DD grows and tries to learn to express her opinions, she aggresses against her father and I quite often and I just didn’t know how to handle it. I’ve told her “No”, “Don’t do that”, etc. I’ve held her hands….I’ve even *patted* her back. I’ve never hurt her or left a mark on her, but when she has hit me a couple times in the past my immediate response (mostly out of not knowing what else to do) has been to tap her back. Like I said, I don’t hurt her, and I’m not mad, either. But that doesn’t seem like a solution when that just teaches her I can return the favor if she bops me. And it usually just makes her cry because she thinks I’m mad at her.
    Anyway, your posts have been extremely helpful and I’m going to try the things you suggest. I knew there had to be a way to teach her that screaming at me or hitting me wasn’t an option, but I didn’t know how. And your policy on not asking a yes/no question if there isn’t an option is a great pointer for me because her father and I do that a lot. “Want to go to bed now?” or “Do you want to go bye?” etc.
    I got tears in my eyes when I read about how I can try and teach her about her aggression and that it’s not okay. I’m putting your blog in my Favorites and will be reading your posts regularly from now on.
    Thanks again.
    F in Colorado Springs

    Comment by Anonymous | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  10. I love how you share your expertise around so generously in other people’s blogs as well as your own, Mary. perhaps a book is in order? Something like “Sound, Sage, and Sensible Advice for the Confused and Confounded.”

    Comment by kittenpie | May 19, 2006 | Reply

  11. Heather: Thanks. I was worried that it was far too loooong. I suppose if you’re interested or motivated enough, you’ll make the effort, but I know that I’m often pressed for time, and will skip things of that length. I’m glad you didn’t!

    JW: Sharing them with your sons? I’m flattered. Maybe by the time they get to be parents, I’ll have written “that book”. 🙂

    I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, Jerry, but I’ll say it just so it’s out there: You can do whatever you like with my posts, so long as you give me credit! (My name and URL at the bottom of the page.) As Candace says, “Sharing is good. Stealing is bad.”

    Granny: Thank you. Wow, I have no idea how you get to so many blogs every day! I’m so impressed.

    Peter: Actually, it makes sense. So people don’t swat their dogs when training them? I guess I always assumed they did. But if they don’t, I certainly appreciate the irony of “swat-free” dog training and vs swatting your child.

    LadyM: Thank you. Wow, people are sharing this with their children, with their friends – they’re even taking notes! LOL As I said to Jerry, above, you may certainly copy and distribute, as long as my name and URL are at the bottom of the sheet, please.

    Those polite questions! They get us into more trouble with our literal toddlers. [grin] We feel like we’re being rude to just give straight orders: really, we’re just being clear.

    Anonymous with twins: Thank you! You’ll not find too much in here addressing babies under a year, because where I live, the maternity leave is a year long. I don’t often start a child under a year old.

    If you’re a reader, a favourite author of mine is Burton White. Raising a Happy, Unspoiled Child discusses parenting techniques for the first three years, and The First Three Years is an overview of their capabilities, interests, and development over that time frame.

    Kristen: Thank you! I love giving the examples, because it makes it easier to visualize, and maybe also to generalize to other situations.

    I’ve had those conversations, too, so I’ve learned the importance of giving examples to cover the varying responses. ‘Every child is different’, we gleefully crow – so it makes sense to show the differing possibilities, or a parent just gets frustrated. “I tried that, and it didn’t work!” they cry, and it’s justified, because their child didn’t respond in the typical way.

    As a mother of quirky kids, you know that describing “typical” isn’t universally helpful!

    Anonymous in Colorado Springs: Don’t want her thinking “I can return the favor when she bops me”. LOL I like your way of putting it.

    I spoke very strongly in my post about parents who let their children “bop” them, because it is a foundational problem. So many other behavioural issues stem from this. The child must, must, must respect the parents (just as, of course, the parent must respect the child).

    I’ve seen parents who feel guilty at feeling anger when their child aggresses against them. Anger is not a sin: it can be an appropriate response. The key is always what you DO with that anger. But the emotion itself is not wrong.

    It sounds like you are doing just fine with your wee one!

    Kittenpie: A book is definitely in order. Will it happen? I’d like it to, but I have this huge procrastination problem! One of my clients is a writer, and a former client is an editor. Now I just need to get myself a publisher client, and I’m all set! (Right now I have a surfeit of doctors. Not too helpful for this endeavour…)

    Comment by Mary P. | May 20, 2006 | Reply

  12. Great post. I can never get enough information on positive disciplining techniques.

    Comment by Mamacita Tina | May 20, 2006 | Reply

  13. Mary it was a great post — and I did leave a comment with a question over there. It was so NOT too long. I love you and hang on every word of advice so I was prepared for a really long post.. then you two were so tidy and succinct with such huge issues.

    Post of the month at least, great collaboration! Thanks again. And, forget that I say over there you’re entitled to start charging for all this great advice.. what am I dumb, I’ll be unemployed in about 8 weeks!

    Comment by mo-wo | May 21, 2006 | Reply

  14. Damn. The title of the post had me thinking you’d started an erotica blog…. hee-hee.

    Ok, I’m off to read the article… I can tell by the comments here that I will like it.

    I actually believed we WOULD spank Sweet Boy but it just doesn’t feel right….. maybe it is a mama’s prejudice but he is such a kind-spirited little guy…. he seems to respond much better to a bit of quiet time than any off-the-cuff reaction from me…. and I know I respond better to that way too….

    Comment by Homestead | May 23, 2006 | Reply

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