To spank or not to spank? If you have children, I am sure you have asked yourself this question and/or had a conversation with someone about this. It can be a very heated, controversial subject. Back in my parents’ day, spanking was the accepted form of discipline. Since then, a lot of studies have been done about how spanking emotionally and psychologically affects kids.
One year I had a “moms” page-a-day calendar. I have saved one particular page from January 11th that hangs on my refrigerator. This is what is says:
“Spanking is harmful emotionally to parent and child, and it
interferes with the development of trust, a sense of security,
and effective communications, according to the American
Academy of Pediatrics. Knowing what to expect from your
child for his age will help you know if he is capable of meeting
your expectations. At each age, involve your child in making
the rules and determining the consequences of not following
them. Having participated in creating the rules, he will be
more understanding of the reasons behind them.”
I personally agree wholeheartedly with this statement. I do not think spanking is a necessary form of discipline and I do think it teaches children that hitting is okay. You may call it spanking but when you spank a child, what are you doing? You are hitting him or her. You and I know the difference between hitting for discipline, called spanking, and hitting to abuse. But, a child does not know the difference. He or she just sees/feels that mommy or daddy is hitting him or her and since mommy and daddy are doing it, it must be okay.
Here is the definition of spanking, “the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause temporary pain without producing physical injury.” I don’t know about you, but I do not want to cause my children physical pain of any kind at all. I believe there are other ways to discipline children without causing pain. If you think about it, would you want a person who is 3 to 4 times your size to cause you temporary pain?
Our form of discipline in our household is to have time out or to get something taken away (i.e. a toy, etc.). I have lost it a few times and chose to spank my child who is now 6 1/2. I think I have spanked her about 6 times in her life (which, to me, was 6 times too many). By spank I mean one quick swat to her butt. What I noticed was this – after I spanked my daughter, she became very, very angry and aggressive. Once or twice she turned to me and hit me. She also hit her brother when he was about one. Well, or course, if mommy “strikes” me, I can strike someone else. If mommy does it, it must be okay.
Children follow what you do and say not what you tell them to do and say.
Not only did spanking my child make her feel horrible, it made me feel like a terrible parent. The few times I chose this form of discipline, my daughter looked at me like a broke her world. She is not used to this behavior from me nor should she be.
What Does the American Academy of Pediatrics Say?
So, let’s get down to it. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The use of physical punishment to discipline children has been linked to a range of mental health problems and is strongly opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.” And, “Children who are spanked frequently at age 3 are more likely to be aggressive when they’re 5, even when you account for possible confounding factors and the child’s level of aggression at age 3.” And,
WHERE WE STAND
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking a child. If the spanking is spontaneous, parents should later explain calmly why they did it, the specific behavior that provoked it, and how angry they felt. They might apologize to their child for their loss of control, because that usually helps the youngster understand and accept the spanking.
Why Stop Spanking?
- It does not teach self control or teach children what to do instead of spanking, i.e. time out, etc.
- It becomes less effective over time
- By spanking a child, you are teaching him or her that hitting is okay
- It has long-term, harmful side effects such as:
– Once a child is spanked, the memory remains in the brain and body for life
– A child who is spanked can become depressed over time and/or into their adult years
– Children are more likely to do what a parent wants when there is a strong bong of trust. Spanking chips away at that trust between parent and child
– Children who are spanked often times have a hard time showing compassion and empathy for oneself and others as adults
– Spanking can deteriorate a child’s self esteem
What Forms of Discipline Do I Advocate?
- Time Out – When done properly, this form of discipline really works well. When I hear people say, “my child will not stay in time-out or this does not work for my child,”
my immediate thought are, “you must being consistent, you must do it the right way and you must always follow through.” I will talk about how to give an effective time-out in another post very soon.
- Losing a privilege or toy, etc. This works really, really well with my children. I let them know ahead of time what the consequence will be if they make a poor choice. Then, if they make that poor choice, I always follow through with what I said I would do – going into time out, taking away a toy, etc.
- Love and Logic parenting
I know a lot of people may disagree with me about spanking a child. But, the studies are showing the harmful effects of spanking and I saw first-hand how my daughter acted when I chose to spank her in the past. My hope is that parents will begin to understand the damage spanking can do and start to make small changes to help our future adults.
I am doing a series about Love and Logic Parenting you may like to read.
It’s all about the journey…
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