Question:

I have a question. My youngest son is 4 years old. Yesterday he pushed me and said some bad words. I was upset and I asked him to apologize, but he didn't. Today his misbehavior returned. He did the same thing. I took him to his room, but he yelled, so I decided to spank him. Did I do the right thing?

Answer:

There are several issues that I would like you to consider. When your son first pushed you and said bad words, you stated you had asked for an apology and did not receive one. First, a four-year-old child is a bit young to be asking for an apology. Four-year-olds view the world in a more black and white way. Either something is right or it is wrong. Nor is a four-year-old equipped to make moral decisions. It is up to you as the parent to inform your child what behavior is or is not acceptable. Second, when you did not get the apology, you did not follow through with any consequence. You taught him that he can defy authority and sometimes win. Third, where is your son learning bad words and attempting to get his way by pushing? Four-year-olds are still at the age were they mimic those around them. If he is seeing others take similar actions and getting what they want, it is little wonder that he is applying this same "solution" at home. You need to figure out where it is coming from and halt the influence it has over your child.

In other words, spanking is not the issue here. You need to address the issues that have led up to your needing to use spanking to regain some measure of control over your child's behavior.

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