Why Spanking Doesn’t Work
A child misbehaves by poking, kicking or similarly assaulting another child. The parent grabs him by the arm and slaps him for hitting that child. “Don’t Hit,” they may even yell. Hmm…what’s wrong with this scenario?
Spanking teaches children that violence is the solution to problems. Hitting teaches that we can and should use physical coersion to get what we want. Not only does spanking teach things that are surely contrary to what we actually want it can errode the trust between parent and child too.
Essentially when we talk about discipline we are talking about behavior that we would like to correct in our children. What better way to teach our children then to model good behavior and behave in a way that is considered respectful, fair and appropriate. Hitting or spanking a child is a behavior not considered respectful or even civil so why would we subject children to such “behavior”? Furthermore we should only discipline in ways that make us feel good about our actions. Can you discipline in front of an audience and not feel ashamed? If not, then something is wrong.
There are many advocates for corporal punishment (spanking) that argue that children who misbehave will only respond to a good spanking and that parents who do not spank such kids “spoil” them. We hear the “spare the rod” advice all to often. As stated above, spanking teaches kids that violence is okay and the “rod” referred to in the Bible is not a physical rod to spank with but instead is a symbol for teaching and guiding.
One of TV’s more popular advice experts, psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw, notes on his website that research has shown that “long-term consequences of spanking can include increased aggressiveness, antisocial behavior, and delinquency.” Does that sound like something we want? Surely not!
No matter what immediate benefits that spanking may bring (stopping the misbehavior) do we as parents want to accept the potential long term consequences? Is it worth it?
In many cases parents spank because they simply don’t have any better ideas or approaches to stop the misbehavior that does not include spanking. Many parents simply raise their children in the manner in which they were brought up. Often times parents do things without even being aware that they are repeating a behavior they were taught as a child. You can break the cycle!
So how do parents break the “spanking cycle”? A good way is to become informed about the alternative ways of discipline. These alternatives may be more time consuming and frustrating but on one ever said parenting was easy.
Take the time to talk to your child. It may take a while for your child to respond to “talking” but with consistency and firmness in your approach it can be a much more satisfying and educational moment for both you and your child.
Whether the child is 3 or 9, taking the time to express and communicate your displeasure with a behavior is a rich learning moment. It may not feel that way at the time, but by honesty and sincerely expressing your discontent in language that reaches your child, you are showing real concern and engaging your child in a way that teaches him respect and good communication.
The consistent show of respect and patience in listening to your child explain his behavior will teach your child the importance of dignity and compassion during those times when it matters most.
You will be exhausted and it will take likely far greater effort than a spanking, but the benefit will far outweigh the inconvenience of fatigue. You don’t have to be perfect as a parent; you just have to be willing to take each disciplinary experience as a learning one for you and your child.