My middle son was naughtier than both of his brothers put together, and unfortunately this meant that he did regularly find himself with a sore bottom.
Right up until he was seven, he went through some dreadful toddler-like temper tantrums. He would throw himself on the ground, scream, flail his limbs about and generally act like a much younger child.
On the whole, the best way to deal with this attention seeking behaviour was to actually just completely ignore it until he got fed up and realised he wasn’t getting a reaction. After a few minutes, he would give up and start behaving normally again. We would then reward his improved behaviour with our attention and praise. However, there were occasions where this simply was not possible – and his tantrums did earn him a smacked bottom.
One such occasion was unfortunately on the day of his sixth birthday. We had taken Harry, his brothers, cousins and several of his little school friends to a large indoor soft play area, where we had hired a section for his party. All in all, my wife, myself and two other parents we had roped into being party helpers were responsible for 18 young children, all of whom were hyper with sugar and excitement. Things were chaotic but manageable.
And then I heard it – the unmistakable sound of my son screaming and shouting. “Get out! It’s mine!” I heard him yell, face red and fists balled up in rage. I rushed over to see him angrily shouting at another pair of children who had evidently been attending the wider soft play area and had accidentally wandered into our private party section.
“For heaven’s sake, Harry!” I said crossly, feeling mortified by my son’s conduct, as the other children’s flustered mother came over to remove them. I was shamefaced as I apologised, feeling furious at my son’s apparent selfishness and inability to share.
I took his arm and led him over to a quieter area, giving him a chance to calm down as I told him off for being so selfish and rude. With a quick glance around to ensure no do-gooders were there to interfere, I gave him a very firm smack to the back of his leg. “Behave yourself or you will be getting a proper smack, Harry!” I warned him, as we walked back to his party.
Harry did heed my warning for a while – but then we cut his birthday cake and he again started misbehaving. One or two kids who were not with our group had obviously decided to try their luck by joining the rush for cake and as Harry saw them walking away from the table, holding paper plates containing his cake, he again lost his temper.
“Give that back!” he screamed at them, so loudly and angrily that it caused a momentary hush in the soft play area – which is quite a feat, as I’m sure anyone who has ever attended one can confirm!
Of course, we allowed the shell-shocked children to keep the cake, and they rushed away. Meanwhile, my wife tried to calm Harry down – but it was too late. He threw himself on the floor and started screaming and kicking his limbs angrily, clearly enraged by the ‘unfairness’ of being made to share.
I felt mortified and furious. I strode over, grabbed both of his little flailing arms and began to lead him towards the toilet. My wife started to speak in Harry’s defence, clearly realising from my demeanour that I intended to him, but I cut her off short: “No, Polly – I don’t care what day it is, he’s already been warned. The way he has been behaving is absolutely unacceptable.” I tightened my grip on Harry’s upper arms and dragged him, still screaming, towards the toilets.
Making sure to select an individual baby changing room for privacy, I firmly pushed Harry through the door and locked it behind us. I placed him on the padded nappy changing table and waited until his tantrum died down. Eventually he tired himself out, stopped kicking and screaming and just lay there for a few minutes, crying quietly.
When I felt my son was actually calm enough to actually listen, I lifted him from the changing table and stood him on the ground in front of me. I began to tell him off for the way he had behaved, his selfishness and his immaturity. Even though he must have seen how angry I was, I think he believed I would not give him a spanking on his birthday.
He was wrong. He started to protest in shock and fear as I lifted him from the ground, sat back down on the plastic chair and lowered his trousers and pants.
“No daddy!” he continued to beg, as I laid him face down across my lap and began smacking his bottom. I gave him 12 hard smacks in total, turning both cheeks of his bottom a deep pink colour. I felt confident that his loud crying and the sound of the spanking would be lost amongst the general racket of the soft play area.
When Harry eventually stopped crying, I stood him in front of me and raised his underwear and trousers. I knelt down to his level and firmly gripped his upper arms. “Are you going to have any more tantrums, Harry?” I asked. He quickly and desperately replied that he would not. I looked at his face seriously for a moment, to show him I meant business, then picked him up and cuddled his small body against mine. He clung on like a little monkey as I hugged him for a few seconds – then we rejoined the party.
I am glad to say that Harry’s sore bottom did the trick, and he enjoyed the rest of his day. He even behaved well and sat nicely when we went to Pizza Hut afterwards for his birthday tea.
That evening, when the boys were all in bed, Polly asked me if I had in fact smacked Harry’s bottom earlier. Of course she already knew full well that I had – she was fishing for the details. Indulging her curiosity, I recounted the incident in the baby changing room, as she shook her head sadly and tutted. She sighed deeply. “Oh, that naughty little boy!” she muttered, as we turned our attention back to the television.
At the end of the programme, Polly yawned loudly. “I’m knackered after today – fancy an early night?” she suggested, trying to hide the glint in her eye. Not wanting to miss out on her good mood, I quickly agreed and we soon headed upstairs to our bedroom…