Friday, March 2, 2012

Spanking: It's for your own good...or is it?

Mom: "Kaden, since you just smacked your brother and would not share you need to go sit in time out for 3 minutes!"
Child: "NO!!!!"
Mom: "Kaden, you have two choices, go sit in time out for 3 minutes or get a swat on your butt...which do you choose?"
Child: crying and kicking his feet "Noooo, mommy!!!! I don't want to. No, no, no!!!"

This is a scene that is all too familiar in many households across America. No matter how many studies come out, no matter how many classes are taken on the negative affects of spanking parents continue to hit their kids.

Is it abuse? Not if it doesn't leave a mark....That seems to be the general rule of thumb among social workers investigating child abuse across the country. No only that, but you may be hard pressed to find a social worker who doesn't swat his or her child on occasion if the situation seems appropriate.

But what are the appropriate situations for a smack? Are there really any at all?

I will go against the masses and take a firm stand suggesting there are not!

Harsh punishment (swatting or spanking) models aggression. You are essentially telling a child not to do something that you are, yourself, doing. It seems counterproductive.  (Kinda like the death penalty: Do NOT kill...or we will kill you?!?! Does that baffle anyone else?)

We know that one of the most prominent ways that children learn what to do is through what the adults around them do: modeling.  Adults show children how to behave.

What, then, are we showing our children when we swat or spank them when they have done something wrong? We are showing them that is ok, yet telling them it is wrong. I am pretty sure we are confusing the heck out of them in the process.

I will not argue that a swift swat on the butt will extinguish the unwanted behavior at the moment, but is it really gone for good? Chances are it isn't. Chances are (and studies show) that your child is still going to do that thing you don't want him to, he just won't do it where you can see it.

 I, too, am guilty of once getting so frustrated, so overwhelmed, that I gave my son a quick swat on his butt to end his inappropriate behavior immediately (I also felt INSANELY guilty afterward). But was this really what was best for him? Or was it my own selfishness and need for an immediate end to the behavior that was literally driving me insane that provoked such an act?

I would like to challenge all of you to make a change and take the road that may be a little more difficult for us as parents, but more beneficial for our children. Just give it a try! A one week challenge...Instead of spanking your child, instead find every reason to praise your son or daughter. Every tiny little thing from going to the bathroom on the potty to eating all his or her peas. Be consistent for one week and I guarantee the results will astound you!

By Tina Parker


  1. Discipline with Praise
    it is good to instill some kind of discipline in people to bring them to a generally recognized code of conduct or order {or else this world would not big enough for all of us}. but sometimes it depends on the strategy one uses to approach the conduct. what works one one person may not work for the order. often times discipline carries a negative connotation because in this society punishment is regularly used to enforce other or to ensure that instructions are carried out. so, because its very common,it is usually the first strategy to come to people mind when they want to enforce or initiate a certain behavior. however, i have found out that praise is also effective and probably more important than punishment itself either physical or involving loss of property or privileges. For one, the person who is being praised derives pleasure in it and makes them want to do more or focus on that praised behavior or action while the person who is doing the praise derives satisfaction from it. so, it's a win win situation.
    Nkechi Anyanwu

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  3. As a child, I was spanked. So were my friends. It did not leave any negative effects on my life. I grew up in the 60's and 70's. Spanking was the norm. If parents did not spank, they were looked at as having no control over their children. We know now that is not the case. There are many alternatives to spanking. I did not spank my children. I just did not see the need for it. I never felt like my children were so out of control to deserve that type of punishment. I did smack the back of their hands when they were reaching for something that might hurt them. I know now that redirection is a better alternative.
    Susan Davis

  4. Time outs seems to be much more effective, especially on child who hates to sit still. I used to be guilty of it with my second child until Dr. John pointed out the negatives that come with the action and I started applying the time out method and it has worked wonderfully with several behavioral issues. Thank YOU!!!!

  5. I personally believe that matters like this involving child-rearing have many more factors. Things like cultural difference and each child's response to forms of punishment should be taken into account. No single method of parenting can be applied to every child. Some cultures are more strict than others and some children can be more defiant. For example, growing up in a single parent African-American household respect for adults is top priority. At that time, most black families live by the "children should be seen, and not heard" rule. Defying that rule got you spanked, it was simple. Also being one of several children, the more rebellious children got considerably more spankings than the children who obeyed their elders.

    Ashleigh Sayles

  6. When my son was little I really didn't need to spank him. When he saw the look on my face of disapproval he generally stopped his bad behavior. I'm not saying I did,t ever swat him on his behind, But I always told him I loved him and explained why I swatted him. You have to show your children love especially when you are frustrated with them. Just explaining why you need them to behave in a different manner can really help the situation. Terry Begley

  7. I love the statement that discipline is most effective when the child is not doing anything wrong. I think that praise and encouragement is extremely important to a child. I remember when I was little and my dad told me he was proud of me and loved me more than anything. It made me soooo happy to hear those words from him. It also made me not want to do anything wrong to ruin the fact that my dad was proud of me. I strived to be better after those moments. I think that sometimes we forget that a simple encouragement can make all the difference.
    Kelsea Bedford

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  9. I agree that positive attention is very important. It's back to the report card. When a child has mostly A's and one C, do we focus on the A's or that one C? First praise your child for his or her accomplishments and then address how we can improve that one, less than desirable, grade.

    As parents, we need to be a source of comfort, support and strength. If children are fearful and highly intimidated by a parent, something isn't working. On the other hand, the parents should be the ones in control and children need to listen to their parents. There should be a mutual love and respect between a parent and child.

    I also believe that parents need to be aware of their children's strengths and weaknesses. A child may avoid doing a task or homework for a class that they find difficult. We need to help children work through their difficulties and be sensitive to their needs.
    Angela Johnson