by Brittany Holst — Growing up I never thought I wanted children. Now that my husband and I have been blessed with a beautiful daughter, I reflect and wonder why I wanted to deny myself the beautiful experience of motherhood.

TSD iMom columnist Brittany Holst (Photo: Shirley Jackson)

Zaniah (Niah), my daughter, recently turned a year old. She is as ACTIVE as she can be discovering the world around her. While she has gained the sense of exploring, the question of discipling comes to mind as she gets older.

I battle with what is the best approach to discipline a child. Historically, parents took the approach of “spare the rod, spoil the child,” but in today’s world, people look at discipline in an entirely different light.

As a new mother, I know there is no blueprint to this thing called motherhood.  Spanking a child is often frowned upon, but let’s be honest: There is only so long you can say “no” and “stop” before thinking there has got to be another way.

I say “No, Niah” so much that my mother often jokes Niah will start thinking “No Niah” is her name! Mind you, I am not promoting beating a child when I say spank. I am simply referring to a tap on the hand or leg that may startle the child.

A Google search of “motherhood and discipling children” yields data with top results centered on Bible verses. While I am all for instilling verses, I do not believe simply reciting different Bible verses will make a child stop doing something.

Should you spank a child? If you do, is there an etiquette to it, meaning only doing it behind closed doors versus in public? At what age should you start to spank a child for them to grasp the purpose? If you start at an older age, say three or four, when a child has enhanced communication and comprehensive skills, is the discipling any easier in comparison to when they are one or two?

I can attest, for example, that Niah understands when I say “no,” “yes,” “stop,” “good job.” Sometimes she immediately stops and finds something else to do. There are times, however, when she would temporarily stop and then start again. This is when the discipline comes into play.

I truly believe the things a child is taught at an early age can set the tone for the rest of their lives and that includes teaching them the importance of respecting authority.

I recently observed Niah having a very dramatic temper tantrum when I said “No Niah.” She carefully and deliberately fell out in the floor and looked at me crying. I tried not to entertain her when she did it because I felt it would encourage the behavior.

I have to admit, I was stunned and wondered where she learned such behavior. When she realized, I was not reacting to her she simply got off the floor and started laughing.

An article published in “Parents Magazine” encourages doing something to distract the child and resist the urge to raise your voice. I have tried the distraction tactic, but Niah catches on easily.

I would take something from her and replace it with another item. She knows what she wants and will go looking for the original item. When she cannot find it, she will go into tantrum mode.

Discipling children, especially a toddler, is hard and everyone has their method of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. How do you handle discipline and what methods have brought you success?

(Brittany Jackson was part of the first corps of iTeen reporters for The New Tri-State Defender. Now as Brittany Holst, her iMom column is a periodic look at motherhood through millennial eyes.)