Spare the Hammer But Not the Wrench
I was spanked as a kid. I guess I turned out ok.
Think you needed a good whippin’ to learn your lessons when you were little? I imagine a lot of heads shaking with a “Yes, ma’am”. There’s a good chance you “Yes, ma’am’ers” believe your children deserve the same.
Did you know that corporal punishment in schools is still legal in 19 states in America? It is outlawed in Canada, Kenya, Korea, South Africa, New Zealand and Europe (except France). Corporal punishment by parents or guardians is legal in all 50 states.
USA Today just published an article titled, Study Links Physical Punishment to Later Mental Disorders. According to assistant professor of epidemiology, Traci Afifi, in the Department of Community of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Canada,
Individuals who are physically punished have an increased likelihood of having mental health disorders. Approximately 2% to 7% of mental disorders in the study were linked to physical punishment.
The problem with these studies is that most parents ignore them. We repeat what’s familiar. Like religious beliefs, disciplinary preferences are frequently passed down generation to generation.
I am adamantly opposed to hitting children for any reason anywhere.
Spanking is hitting.
I wish the word “spanking” was never created. Picture a parent threatening his child, “Do you want a spanking?” Now change it to “Do you want me to hit you?” We should call it what it is and encourage alternatives.
The threat of physical pain can change behavior.
One of the weakest arguments from opponents of spanking is that it doesn’t work. Well maybe not the first time. If you inflict enough physical pain on a child, eventually they’ll avoid doing whatever is causing it.
It doesn’t matter if it works.
No one deserves to be hit to learn a lesson.
It is illegal to hit your spouse, your boss, or even your nasty neighbor. And they’re adults! But toddlers and children, have at it. That makes no sense.
How would you feel if your boss was allowed to hit you every time you made a mistake? It’s for your own good so you can keep your job. The boss doesn’t want you making that mistake again. Now that he’s given you a few good smacks, does that make you want to perform better for him? How does that make you feel about yourself?
No spanking does not mean no discipline.
We were no nonsense parents who expected our children to learn from experience, be polite, and behave nicely. We set clear expectations that were age appropriate. Strict with ourselves about follow-through. Privileges were earned. Consequences were given. Great choices were rewarded.
I had eyes in the back of my head too and my children knew it.
Realistic expectations are the foundation of good discipline.
Expecting a 14 month old to sit still for a solid hour is unrealistic. It’s inappropriate. Now hit the child for not sitting still and you’ve put the child in a no win situation. Learn what is normal behavior.
Normal doesn’t always mean acceptable. If you have a 3-year-old at a restaurant or on an airplane you need to have plenty of things for him to do. If your toddler wants to run out in the street, re-direct him. Discipline is not a substitute for supervision.
Animals don’t smack their young around and they learn how to survive in the wild. Lessons take time. Mastery takes time.
It is never too late to re-visit your beliefs. Ask honestly if your hand, your belt or your switch is the right instrument for instruction of your children. If you care enough to teach your children right from wrong, then you likely have all the tools you need within yourself.
A hammer pounds a nail down. A wrench maintains a firm grip but adjusts to fit the size of the screw. Choose the wrench because the toddler with a bruise on his behind grows up to be a teenager. And by that time your strength needs to be felt in the calmness of your voice not in the force of your hand.
Recommended posts in WE BELONG on raising children: