I Spanked the Wrong Kid

Yep. It happened. My two sons (6 and 4 years old) were arguing in the bathroom. I heard the unmistakable sound of a punch. After having warned the boys not to argue, there was only one logical course of action (Proverbs 13:24), and even they knew it. So I entered the bathroom, spanked the one who wasn’t crying and sent him to his room.

I should’ve known better. The 4-year-old always does the punching. The reason why he was crying was because he knew the spanking was coming. My oldest son was the victim … now twice. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

Unfortunately, mistakes are a part of parenting. We all make them. But when they happen, what do we do? I think there are a couple of logical steps that must be taken (and, Dad, I suspect these are harder for us than for Mom).

1. Admit them. This goes to an issue of trust. When you made the mistake, you broke trust with your child and there aren’t many things more important.

2. Apologize. Hopefully, our kids have the opportunity to see us model the act of saying “I’m sorry.” The world is going to be a difficult place if they do not know how to do this properly.

Now, I’m sure you likely haven’t made such an egregious mistake as I did. But the less obvious mistakes can be even more dangerous because they’re more likely to be overlooked. Don’t miss the opportunity, when you illustrate your humanity, to model the important skill that all successful individuals need: the ability to take responsibility.

And, by the way, after I crawled out from under the rock and followed steps one and two, justice was served with my 4-year-old!

Until next time …

About Jeffrey D. Potts, Ed.D.

Raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, Jeff Potts, Ed.D., grew up learning the importance of hard work and family values. A graduate of Baylor University, he has master’s degrees from two universities and earned his Ed.D. in teaching and learning from a fourth institution. Potts launched his pedagogical career in the 1990s, working full-time with students and parents. READ MORE→