As I was picking my son up from daycare the other day, another boy's "Nanny" (grandmother, I presume) was picking him up at the same time. The boy was playing, and grabbing on to other children's ankles. It wasn't ideal play, but no one was getting too upset about it, except Nanny, who immediately yelled at him to stop.
The boy didn't stop, so Nanny came over and smacked him on the hand.
This upset the boy, who lay there on the floor scowling, clutching his hand, and muttering at his Nanny.
Taking this as defiance, the Nanny told him to get up. When he didn't immediately comply, she said she was going to count to three, and if he wasn't up by then, she would spank him right there in front of everyone.
Sure enough, he wasn't up fast enough, so she hauled him off the floor, turned to me and said "sorry", and then spanked him right in front of my son.
I'm not completely against the idea of corporal punishment, but it is certainly something that my wife and I strive to avoid using, and my son has never been spanked, nor seen anyone spanked before.
He was visibly upset, and became more upset as the other boy began to cry.
For most of the rest of that evening, he kept repeating "Jaden's crying. Jaden got smacked on the butt!" and asking if other people get smacked on the butt.
The daycare provider (we use a private in-home daycare that we are very happy with) was visibly uncomfortable, but clearly felt that it wasn't her place to tell a child's guardian that she shouldn't discipline her child as she felt appropriate (and I can't say I blame her).
I'm not interested in trying to convince this person that she's handling the situation "wrong" (while I disagree with her methods, I don't feel its my place to tell other people how to parent, and I know I would absolutely resent similar advice from a stranger).
I am concerned about the impact on my son, however.
One of the biggest arguments against corporal punishment is the claim that it models violent behavior to children, and teaches them that hitting is an appropriate response in some situations (without necessarily providing guidance on which situations). This is my biggest concern.
It seems to me that merely witnessing a caregiver hitting a child could just as easily result in my son deciding that hitting is appropriate as if he had been on the receiving end.
I kept telling my son that its never okay to smack someone, on the butt or otherwise, but I was having a difficult time in explaining it without being critical of Nanny's actions. In the end, I decided that it was okay to be critical of her to my son, as I think it is a fair lesson that being an "adult" doesn't automatically make someone right, or even someone that can be trusted.
I'm not certain that this will be a lasting solution, particularly if there are repeat incidents. I know Nanny isn't the only one to pick up/drop off Jaden, but she seems to do it more often than the boy's father.
I've contemplated bringing up the issue and asking her to make sure she doesn't do this in front of my son again (if I see her), but I'm not certain of the best way to broach or present this.
How can this situation be best addressed, both from the perspective of responding to my son, and anticipating possible future incidents?