I Spank My Toddlers and I’m Still a Great Mom: This is How

Surprisingly, of all the hotly debated parenting topics, spanking takes the cake. It’s not very good cake either. The fact is, while both sides may have scientific sprinkles on their piece, neither side has enough. Parents, non-parents, and the bakers themselves could argue until they were sick, but in the end, no one would be “right,” in the justified, 100%, indisputable way required to call someone else a bad parent, and not just end up sounding like an ass. Personally, when my cake doesn’t have enough sprinkles, I opt for a brownie. OK, maybe I’m just hungry and you can forget the baked-goods analogy here, but the point is, I spank, and I’m still an awesome mom with remarkable kids.

This is how.

Finding a middle ground:

It’s beyond me why in regards to spanking parents feel you must always spank or you must never ever spank, as if you may spontaneously combust if you veer from the typical disciplinary styles some likely over-priced parenting book presents. I spank my toddlers, just like my parents did me, but not as a regular form of discipline. Spanking is reserved for misdeeds that could result in injury or death to my children or someone else. Spanking means this is serious, you-don’t-do-that-ever-again business. My kids know if they are getting spanked, what they did was not OK in any way, shape or form, ever. They are never spanked without explanation. All forms of discipline come with a verbal conversation about what was done, and why it was wrong. Spanking is never hard enough to leave physical marks, and always done with the hand. It’s shock factor, not pain.

Why it’s good to be the middle mom or dad:

The advantage of playing the middle man is you get the best of both sides — you get all sprinkles.

The main issue with never spanking is what are you going to do when your toddler decides time-outs don’t matter, challenges your authority and starts doing things more dangerous than just not picking up his/her toys? When he/she is running into the street or repeatedly hits a playmate in the face with a toy on purpose? You don’t have a last resort, a harmless way to shock-the-holy-living-misbehaving out of your toddler. Those who don’t ever choose to show their children they are, in fact, the boss, may find they aren’t always the boss. In most cases, after you’ve spanked once, the mere threat can stop dangerous behavior.

The main issue with always spanking, for everything from not eating at dinner to playing with knives, is your child may learn violence is the answer to all life’s problems. He/she may begin to believe the person that hits the hardest makes the rules and might just start hitting back. Worse, by overusing spanking, you eliminate its effectiveness. If you had cake every single day, cake would no longer be a treat. In the same sense, if you spank all the time, it’s routine, ordinary, and no longer shocking.

In either case, spanking older children is unnecessary. Toddlers sometimes need shock-value discipline. They lack the reasoning skills and memory to understand and remember when something is dangerous; the spanking stands as a strong deterrent, while the explanation builds the know-how, which later prevents the act when the child is older.

It’s also important to note that there is a big difference between spanking and abuse.

Toddler Playing with Poop? Stop Poop Painting, Smearing and Other Fecal Fun

“How did he get the brown finger paint out of the tub?” I thought before approaching closer and realizing that my toddler was not finger painting with paint– it was poop. He was playing with poop. This wasn’t first and has yet to be the last time one of my toddlers has removed or simply reached into their diaper to smear, paint, and plain out play with their poop. Poop smearing certainly isn’t the most common toddler behavior in the book, but it’s not exactly uncommon either.
stop toddler playing with poop toddler poop painting

Why in Clorox’s name would my toddler be playing with poop?

 It’s kind of a could be one, the other, or both explanation here. Many toddlers start having fecal matter fun when they begin potty training. Your toddler has a great deal of focus placed on his or her butt and what comes out of it at this stage in life. As a result, something your toddler likely never really paid much attention to is suddenly a highlight of their day. Curious about the brown excrement, many toddlers poke a finger in and find it sticks and then can be smeared and wiped all over the place. This leads to the second possible cause.

Some toddlers also discover playing with poop before potty training simply from putting their hands in their diaper or mastering the diaper removal art. Curiosity brings them to wipe and smear, and toddler appreciation for messes and “art” prompt them to continue. You could see how both could factor into the “why?” answer most parents search for upon finding a poop masterpiece fresh completed, but this still does little for the “why me?” sadly. Pain in the butt aside, this is a normal albeit disgusting toddler behavior and is almost always short lived. Thank the horrible smell for that one.

Is playing with poop dangerous to my toddler’s health?

 It could be. Urine is a sterile substance, but fecal matter is far from sterile. The average poop diaper is about ¾ water, 1/3 decomposing dead bacteria, indigestible substances (like corn skin), live bacteria, fats, dead cells, intestinal mucous, and other bi-products of the digestive tract. It’s the 1/3 that presents the danger of bacterial infection if your toddler gets it in their mouth. Many forms of food poisoning, for example, are a result of improper hand washing after bathroom breaks. In most cases, the worst you could be facing if your child places poop-covered fingers in their mouth, besides a severe desire to puke yourself, is food poisoning like symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea 12 to 48 hours after).

What can you do to stop poop smearing, painting, and other diaper content misuses?

What not to do:

I was pretty shocked to find how many parents resort to the cold-shower method with poop smearing toddlers. This would entail rinsing the poop off your toddler in a cold shower. This falls majorly under the do-not-do category. First off, a mom who recently made the mistake of making her use of cold shower discipline public was charged with child abuse. Second, cold showers can have negative psychological effects on the child, especially at the toddler age. On top of the fact this method only teaches the child poop painting comes with punishment, not why their behavior is unacceptable or what they should do instead.
This is also another situation where as hard as it is, you have to save your OMG-seriously?!?-That’s-disgusting reaction for when your toddler isn’t around. Shock value goes a very long way with many kid’s this age, and they will do it again just to see your reaction if it amuses them.

What to do:

When playing with poop happens:

When you catch your toddler mid-smear or admiring his/her work simply calmly pick them up and carry them to the tub. Explain that this is a no-no, because poop is icky and goes in the potty or our diaper and rinse them clean with WARM water. You don’t have to give a warm, comfy, or fun, rewarding bubble bath, just a suds up-rinse off clean. Then a short time out often helps so you can clean up the mess, and they can think about the mess.

To avoid future fecal fun:

Prevention is the most useful tool in a poop-painter’s parent’s world. You can start by eliminating the ability to remove diapers if your child is not potty training. A single piece of packing tape does the trick. However, many kids will still stick hands into their diapers even if they can’t fully remove it. This does limit poop level access but doesn’t eliminate it. One piece clothing such as jumpers, overalls, or jammies work the best to cut off access to the diaper entirely. You can also use toddler sized onesies (shirts that snap at the crotch) with pants; this will make it obvious when your toddler is trying to get a finger in there. If you aren’t potty training, now may also be a time to start as you can praise pooping in the toilet, giving your child a more rewarding alternative to poop smearing.

Finally, finger paint, the real stuff, by allowing your toddler to make actual messes that aren’t of the stinky variety and don’t come with a time-out, you give them another acceptable outlet for their desire to make messes and art.