If you’re reading this, it means you’ve likely done something you regret – you spanked your 3 year old in a moment of anger and frustration.
Now the hard knot of guilt sits heavy in your stomach as you replay those blurry seconds over and over again.
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First, take a few deep breaths. What’s done is done.
Beating yourself up won’t help your child. The most important thing is how you move forward from here.
Believe me, I know those sickening feelings all too well. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to help, because I too lost control and struck my screaming toddler’s bottom at my wits end.
The shame was overwhelming, the tears endless. But with time and effort, we healed.
You are not defined by your worst mistake. This can actually be the start of building an even better relationship with your child, if you let it.
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In this post, I’ll share my best tips for making things right after you’ve spanked your 3 year old in anger and feel terrible.
#1 Give Yourself Time To Cool Off
It’s tempting to rush right to your child for comfort, but they will pick up on your emotional state.
Take some time – an hour or more – to calm down before attempting to interact again.
Breathe deeply, pray or meditate if that helps, or talk to your partner or a friend if possible. Just vent all the guilt, confusion, and regret until your heart rate slows.
#2 Apologize Sincerely
Once you’ve calmed down, go to your child and apologize.
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Get on their level and explain in simple terms that hitting is never ok, even by mommies and daddies, and say you’re very sorry.
Keep it brief but heartfelt, and resist justifying why you did it – the focus is making amends.
Little ones look to us to model behavior. When we own our mistakes, it teaches them to do the same someday. If they see you make amends, that will stay with them.
#3 Focus On Rebuilding Trust
In the coming days, focus on quality time together – gentle hugs, reading stories, playing games. When your child feels safe and loved again, then you can revisit the topic to make sure the lesson sticks.
Say, “I never want to spank you like that again. Can we talk about better ways I can deal with my frustration?”
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Let them participate in creating new house rules. They’ll feel empowered.
#4 Reflect On What Triggered You
Now examine what led up to the spanking. Were you sleep deprived? Feeling overloaded?
Identify your triggers so you can be proactive about self-care and avoiding similar situations.
If your child exhibits challenging behavior, look honestly at how you respond.
There are usually alternatives to spanking, like giving them space, using a timer, or having them sit quietly with you. Make a plan for next time tension escalates.
#5 Seek Outside Support if Needed
If you feel terrible about this all the time or you have trouble controlling frustration, reach out. You don’t need to navigate this alone.
Many parents go through this, and you can find lots of discussions on parenting forums and Facebook groups.
Also, Counseling, parenting classes, and even anger management can help.
Don’t dwell in guilt. You apologized sincerely and you’re actively working to change, and one mistake does not define you or make you a bad parent.
Remember all the times you got it right. Focus on progress, not perfection.
Your child knows they are so very loved. With open communication, self-reflection and commitment, you will get through this.
And soon, it will just be one more thing that made your bond stronger and your family kinder.
You’ve got this!