The So Called Terrible Twos

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I was never spanked. I was just a really good, well behaved little girl.

Okay, I had a bit of a mouth on me but I never did anything that my parents believed they needed to give me a whack for to get me in line. One stern look from my very conservative dad always did the trick. And if he wasn’t there, just knowing I’d disappointed my mom was punishment enough for me. My siblings (who are all older and all got a good hiding) would claim I escaped that form of punishment because I was the dear baby of the family. In a way they’re right – but more so because I learned from their mistakes – and learned how to do things on the DL better ;).

I grew up telling everyone who I had the conversation with that I don’t believe in spanking because I never got spanked and look how well I turned out! I even felt a little bit left out when my friends would share memories and jokes about how they got whacked when they were kids – a part of me wishing I had a story to tell. The other part being so grateful that my parents left that out of my upbringing because I was the kind of little girl who’d grow up to not like my parents so much now. Kev, on the other hand, was given a good hiding throughout his childhood and when he was a bit too old for it, was made to do menial work around (eg. carrying bricks from one side of the garden to another) the house as punishment. He really appreciates his parents doing that because in his words he terrorised his older brother and was a rebellious little boy. He’s never been shy to say that if our kids needed a smack, they’d get one. I used to flat out refuse that would happen to any being I carried into the world.

Well, just like that, Kai is now one and a half and having full on tantrums. He’s a busy, active toddler who’s pushing our boundaries every single day. I don’t know who coined it ‘the terrible twos’ but if this is only the beginning, I’m dreading the next couple of years. Almost overnight, my sweet, precious little boy turned into a loose cannon. One second he’s adorable and angelic, the next he’s aggressive and screaming at the top of his lungs – with no apparent reason most of the time. I tell my friends he’s going through some toddler angst because it describes this switch so much better than a soft ‘terrible twos’. It got really bad just before we went to Tanzania, with him having a couple of these outbursts daily. Kev and I were cautiously telling his grandparents last week that he hasn’t thrown one in awhile – only for him to have two full blown fits this past weekend.

So the question is, when is the right time to start disciplining your child? And how do you do it? Do tantrums and discipline go hand in hand? I’ve tried to leave spanking out of it completely and gave the following a try:

  • Ignoring. By not rewarding his bad behaviour with attention, he’d soon lose interest. This worked for about a week. Then he’d start having a tantrum or actually harming our dogs to which I knew I had to step in before they got seriously hurt. So that only works some of the time.
  • Raising my voice. Both Kev and I would tell him to stop doing something calmly, then purposely change our tone and voice slightly to signify that we’re serious. This worked for a little while – not sure how long but he now just looks up at  us while he’s doing said bad behaviour.
  • Holding. I’ve heard that during a tantrum, your child is overwhelmed and confused with their feelings. They’re still new to managing and identifying them so some children need comfort when this happens, to calm them down. Kev and I have done this a couple of times – firmly holding Kai at the height of his outburst and it’s worked to calm him down. I’m just not sure how long it will last.

Don’t let this cute face fool you. He’s trouble!

Another reason I prefer not to spank? What if he learns that’s how you express you’re upset with someone? When he started hitting me a few months ago, I’d fight every urge not to spank him because of the confusing nature of it all – it’s not okay for you to hit mommy but it’s ok for mommy to hit you? I have to admit though, after I’ve tried all of the above and he’s still not listening to me, I’ve given in and given him a mini spank on his bum or his hand to snap him out of whatever bad behaviour he’s insisting on continuing with. I’ve realised he’s still too little to even understand the ‘naughty corner’ approach. So far, it’s actually been the most effective. I definitely think I’ve gotten more accustomed to it and am building a stronger shell but I’m still working my way through this motherhood thing, and I’d prefer for a situation not to reach spanking level. Sigh, trying times.

Do you believe in spanking? How do you discipline your child? How did/are you handling tantrums?

Weigh in below!

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14 Comments

  1. April 10, 2018 / 1:27 pm

    Mrs O’Reilly, I was taught that spanking is beficial if we do it right, how so? Never spank your child if you are angry, frustrated etc etc. Always warn a child several times before spanking, also consider the child’s age, ( that’s what I do and give don’t do it again look) my daughter is now 8 years almost 9 and she is doing just fine. She now jokes about it if she sees a child who is misbehaving, she goes like ” this child need a spank, lol”. So if the intention is to discipline ( most parents are trying their best to discipline)not to hurt I would say it’s a good thing.Thank you for being a good person your are.

  2. Eseza
    February 23, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    Oh gosh. The terrible twos. I am having a tough time with this spanking thing. My dad didn’t hit us when we were growing 0up, just like yours, the look was enough. The twins are learning my different looks but they have just turned two (doesn’t even count yet as they were premature). When they don’t heed my warnings they get a stern No and a smack or two on their hands. I started when they were 20months old or so. Now the problem is, when I say no or stop it (in English or Luganda) they will either smack the naughty one on the hand or themselves (especially Kai, he will smack himself). Smacking them already makes me feel so guilty, now to see them smack each other or themselves hurts me even more. It has been a week since hubby and I smacked them. We now give a stern no, a stop it then we get down to their level and explain why they can’t do what they did and to apologise to mama, papa or their twin, or whoever) A tantrum we deal by holding them, kissing them and if I realise it’s something they want or need, I tell them to show me (it’s easier now that they are two).
    Parenthood is tough. I also do not want them to associate no with hurt. I understand they are struggling to communicate their feelings, it’s tough for them and us. I never know if what I am doing is best for them, us or the family. Oh yeah no one is allowed to smack/spank them but their dad and I.

  3. Eseza
    February 23, 2018 / 5:44 pm

    Oh gosh. The terrible twos. I am having a tough time with this spanking thing. My dad didn’t hit us when we were growimg up, just like yours, the look was enough. The twins are learning my different looks but they have just turned two (doesn’t even count yet as they were premature). When they don’t heed my warnings they get a stern No and a smack or two on their hands. I started when they were 20months old or so. Now the problem is, when I say no or stop it (in English or Luganda) they will either smack the naughty one on the hand or themselves (especially Kai, he will smack himself). Smacking them already makes me feel so guilty, now to see them smack each other or themselves hurts me even more. It has been a week since hubby and I smacked them. We now give a stern no, a stop it then we get down to their level and explain why they can’t do what they did and to apologise to mama, papa or their twin, or whoever) A tantrum we deal by holding them, kissing them and if I realise it’s something they want or need, I tell them to show me (it’s easier now that they are two).
    Parenthood is tough. I also do not want them to associate no with hurt. I understand they are struggling to communicate their feelings, it’s tough for them and us. I never know if what I am doing is best for them, us or the family.

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      February 27, 2018 / 6:00 am

      As always, I feel for you fellow Mama Kai! This twins thing must be surreal, I already go crazy when it’s just my one guy. Smacking themselves – awwwwww! So innocent of them but also troubling. You’re doing ok mama. I think I need to take my own advice in that if you’re doing your best, then you’re doing the best for them and your family. I know it’s hard to keep that in mind when we’re dealing with tantrums and such. Parenting is the hardest thing in the world!

  4. Vuyokazi
    February 21, 2018 / 12:11 pm

    I was taught not to hurt your child with the same hands you use to love your child, so although spanking with my bare hands is a no-go I do use an object and give it a name like Pow Pow (silicone spoon, or one of those bendy rulers) to smack on the palm of the hand or on the bottom. It sounds a little calculated but it’s necessary. This doesn’t need to happen too often as little ones will automatically associate the object (Pow Pow) with discipline and will get in line as soon as they hear the word or see the object.

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      February 27, 2018 / 6:02 am

      Hey Vuyokazi, you raise a good point and it’s something I always forget about. My friend uses a wooden spoon as the naughty object. I’ve noted that down as an option if or when the other tactics don’t work. Thanks!

  5. February 21, 2018 / 5:12 am

    I spank her hand when she’s reaching for things she shouldn’t be touching. She still continues though #smh so I see it as ineffective.
    I don’t necessarily have anything against spanking. But at this age I know that spanking doesn’t even make sense to her and I don’t want to instill fear unnecessarily.
    I’ll take it as it comes and communicate as best as I know how because she does know the word “No” and “naughty”.
    I also avoid falling classifying the behaviour as terrible twos because that gives a negative connotation for me, as if it’s to be expected and won’t end soon. I just take it as me raising a human being who doesn’t exactly know how to interact with the world yet (because they’re new) so I need to teach the rules of engagement so they know what’s acceptable and what’s not.

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      March 31, 2018 / 9:16 am

      “I just take it as me raising a human being who doesn’t exactly know how to interact with the world yet (because they’re new) so I need to teach the rules of engagement so they know what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

      Enough said. Thank you for this!

  6. Mrs JK
    February 20, 2018 / 3:08 pm

    Hey Mommy. I think its fantastic that you are seeking other forms of discipline before spanking. I’m not opposed to spanking, but as you have pointed out, I sometimes worry it could either get too much or he takes away the wrong message. My son started his ‘terrible twos” at around 18months as well. I’m not gonna lie, a couple of times I got freaked out cause it would go as far as self harming. He’s two and 5 months, and although he doesn’t speak, we’ve found ways to communicate and eliminate as many “triggers” as possible. We are not out of the woods yet, but he is much much better. So rest assured, it does get better. I have spanked him a few times….and tried all the above mentioned in your post. Spanking is always a last resort though.

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      March 31, 2018 / 9:15 am

      Thanks mama, it’s a very difficult game of balancing. I’m finding it harder on some days than others. Also, he has 5 very regularly involved adults in his life (myself, his dad, grandparents and nanny) and everyone has a different way of handling him which is also proving to be a bit problematic because he’s given mixed messages. No matter how many times I tell the others to be firmer, he looks at them with his adorably big eyes and gets away with it!

  7. Excited Soon-to-be Mumma
    February 19, 2018 / 8:24 pm

    I believe in spanking and intend to introduce it at the earliest opportunity possible. Biting my nipple? Spank! Silly tantrums? Spank!! My husband, on the other hand is completely against it and says children need tenderness and loving affection. Bah… Spitting out food or medicine? Spank!! Baby will be here in four months and he says I’ll probably change and spoil them rotten but mark my words, one stern warning will be sufficient. Failure to heed said warning, spanking and isolation (kind of like the naughty corner but out of my sight) will follow. I must sound like an abusive parent but I don’t care. I will absolutely not tolerate bad behaviour.

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      March 31, 2018 / 9:12 am

      Lol, this made me laugh! You don’t sound abusive, just firm. They’ll know not to mess with their mama! IT’s so interesting you say your hubby believes the opposite cos I find it’s usually the dads who are stricter

  8. Imaan
    February 19, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    I once read that keeping a stick/ruler or whatever you would use to hit him hung/in a place that’s visible usually helps curve bad behaviour. For example when he gets out of hand then either point to it as a warning. Using more than just your hand to hit your child is obviously a little extreme for some people but the intent behind is that you would never actually use it but just warn him. Should there come a day when you follow through then so be it. This hopefully will condition and guide his behaviour in the future.

    • Aisha O'Reilly
      March 31, 2018 / 9:11 am

      Hi Imaan, thanks for your suggestion, I think I’m going to try this when he gets a little bit older so he understands. I love the wooden spoon idea that some moms, including a friend of mine use.

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