“Spare the rod and spoil the child,” the Bible tells us. This was personified and practiced during my childhood and in that of my children, and so far it’s being carried on into the next generation. I know this is a can of worms and I don’t intend to polarize readers with my opinions on this, but rather I thought we’d look at some alternatives to corporal punishment that could be just as effective and a whole lot more interesting.
I saw on the news a few years ago back where an actress had chosen to punish her children by using hot sauce instead of spanking them. That’s right, a drop of Tabasco on their tongues seemed to go a long way with them, according to the report. I don’t mind some hot sauce now that I’m a lot older, but I’m sure I’d have opted to be horse-whipped and dragged behind the family car naked, and through a sandspur patch rather than ingest any of that liquid hellfire as a kid.
That got me to thinking, which led to me making some notes, which led to this column. Why not present children with a choice of punishments, so they will at least have a variety and not get bored with the same old chastisement?
I remember my daddy threatening me with: “If you do such-and-such, I’m gonna switch your legs till they bleed ice cream!” Being a very young boy, as much as I loved ice cream, I dared not tempt fate to that degree. I’m not sure why I never questioned how that actually worked. And I don’t recall ever meeting any other kids who’d bled ice cream. But it did make me ponder the real meaning behind that childhood chant, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.”
Spankings weren’t the only punishment my two daughters received when they were coming up. They were put on restriction, sent to their rooms, and had stuff taken away, like most other kids. But I found to be the most effective one was to have them sit on the couch for an hour and hold hands. You know how siblings can be, and this was particularly excruciating, especially if they were already mad at each other. Now I wish I’d taken a photo of that for the family archives, and especially for today’s social media!
I also wish I’d taken the time to come up with other alternatives. I wonder how my kids would’ve taken to eating liver for supper for a week at a time? If it were me, that would’ve been enough to cause me to run away and join the circus. Or I could’ve ran to my granny and told her, and then she’d have probably cut a switch and went after my parents.
Another ploy could be to let the sibling(s) of the child to be punished have access to the room and toys and such of that child. Now that would be a dagger to the heart, seeing your brothers and sisters in your room, playing with all your stuff and taunting you. That definitely borders on being cruel and unusual punishment.
I wish I’d have thought of this one—instead of simply taking away television privileges, let them watch all they want, but with no remote control. Talk about a fate worse than death! Heaven forbid they have to get up and walk across the room to change the channel like I grew up doing! After a week of that, maybe they really would start believing the stories their parents tell about having to walk 10 miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways while fending off grizzly bears with their notebooks.
“The lecture” was always quite effective. Knowing that I was gonna get that was some of the worst dreading I’ve ever known. Just drag me out behind the barn and beat me to death with a 2x4 and get it over with, please!
Another effective deterrent to delinquency was to whip out those naked baby photos to show to anyone who wanted to see them. And the ultimate would be to put it in the newspaper in recognition of your birthday. Where was that child abuse program back then?
There are other ideas that come to mind. You could play polka music throughout your house for a week. Of course, this could have an effect on other household members, including siblings, the parents themselves, and even pets, so this should be used only in dire circumstances.
This one is especially effective on teens: Take away their cellphones for a week or two and see how long they can go without texting before they just curl up into the fetal position and babble themselves into incoherency. Barbaric, I know.
I’ll sign off here, since I’ve hopefully whet your appetite for creativity on this subject, and maybe you can come up with some unusual and appropriate methods to use, should the need arise. Spankings are still quite effective, but in case you want to make it more fun (for you) and less enjoyable (for them), clip this column and file it away for future use.
And be sure to pass it to your children once they get their own kids. They may as well have some fun with it too, right?