To spank or not to spank?

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Agression begets agression / Photo: Shutterstock

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 90 percent of U.S. parents spank. (Shutterstock)

I don’t believe in spanking a child to teach discipline. To prove my point, I asked my son which punishment would help keep him from misbehaving. For him, the idea of losing computer game time makes him think twice before breaking the rules at home.

  • Inflicting responsibility instead of pain

I prefer to discipline my son for bad behavior with time-outs and loss of privileges to Moshi Monsters on the computer. I believe it instills self-control in the child rather than fear. With spanking, you get a quick fix, but the sting of the pain is the longer lasting memory. The true lesson is lost in the pain.

  • Time-outs and loss of privileges are more reflective punishments

If a person is perpetually late for work, that person loses his or her job. Committing a crime gets you a huge time-out in jail. I’ve yet to see someone get hit for talking back to the boss. Getting fired is a more likely scenario.

  • Sadly, most parents spank their kids

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 90 percent of U.S. parents spank.

  • Why isn’t spanking a young child considered a crime too?

A 2010 study by Tulane University showed that children who were spanked at age 3 were more likely to be aggressive at age 5 than children who were not spanked. Spanking only teaches that aggression is a way to solve a problem.

  • Spare the rod. Spoil the child.

I had a friend who didn’t believe in my idea of countdowns or timeouts. He’d say, “If I’m counting, I’m spanking.” He’d make reference to the number of spankings he was giving.

My friend also liked to quote the bible and say, “Spare the rod. Spoil the child.” The actual quote reads like this.

  • Proverbs 13:24 “whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

The Hebrew word in this proverb describes a scepter or staff. A scepter, the rod, was a large, ornately carved staff, carried by a person with authority. I believe the meaning was figurative – as most things in the Bible are. It implied we should use our authority to teach our children discipline.

  • Spanking devalues a child

Corporal punishment is a temporary fix that leaves a negative lasting impression. It makes a child feel bad about him or herself. It makes a child learn fear rather than respect. It erodes the relationship between parent and child.

  • Violence begets violence

In another study, as explained in a 2011 Time Healthland article, one mother hit her toddler after the toddler hit or kicked her. She said, “This is to help you remember not to hit your mother.” I wonder if this mom was spanked as a child.

  • I’d rather avoid a kick from my son

I’d rather take the time to explain to my son why he can’t play on the computer for misbehaving and give him time to reflect on his mistake than to teach him that hitting someone is a good way to solve a problem.

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