The Great Spanking Debate-Alternative Discipline Methods
Kids can be frustrating. They can be strong willed and difficult to discipline, and there are times it takes every ounce of parental self control not to lose it. When the going gets tough, do you spank your kids? Whether or not to spank has been debated for decades, and there are parents on both sides of the fence. While spanking wasn’t an uncommon discipline tactic in the 1950’s, many studies today argue it is detrimental to children in the long run.
According to a poll done by Parents.com, 81% of parents admit to spanking their kids at least once. Almost a quarter of them spank at least once a week. However, several studies indicate that while spanking may be a quick fix for bad behavior, it can create more aggressive behavior as your child grows. According to Dr. Sears, “Spanking demonstrates that it’s all right for people to hit people, and especially for big people to hit little people, and stronger people to hit weaker people.” Child care professionals advocate using time outs, and other more effective methods of discipline.
Many parents argue they were spanked as a child, and they turned out fine. While this may be true, every child is different. When you spank your children, you are running the risk of your child withdrawing from you. When your children are afraid of you, they are less likely to share their experiences and faults. They will fear your reaction if they come to you with a problem they’ve created. Some parents claim they spank infrequently, and only when behavior is extremely inappropriate. While it’s easy to feel as though one spank every few months won’t do any harm, your child may remember that one spank before they remember all the hugs. You want your children to remember nurturing moments, not the punishments.
For young children, spanking can be especially harmful. Many children don’t understand why they are being spanked, and they just feel as though they must have been “bad.” When parents are constantly sending messages of love and teaching their babies they are valued, being hit confuses the child. Still, it is argued that a good spank is the quickest fix for unruly behavior. While this may be true, your child may resort to hitting others to solve their problems in the near future.
A more effective method for disciplining children is to get to their level, look them in the eyes, and explain sternly what they are doing wrong. Use time outs, or make the punishments fit the crime. Are they pushing the limits on television time? Take televisions away. Did they mess the playroom and refuse to clean it? Take away the toys. When you keep your cool and follow through with your threats and punishments you will see much better results in the long run. When you resort to hitting your children, they are being disciplined with violence, not with love.
Still feel spanking is the right method for you? Try these other tactics for a few months and see if behavior in your house improves:
- Use time outs. One minute for every year your child is, such as five minutes for a five year old.
- Clearly explain why your child is in time out immediately after placing them there. Insist on an apology before they can leave time out.
- If your toddler is unruly in a store, leave. Creating a power struggle creates more frustration for you and your child.
- Follow through. Idle threats are ineffective, and your children will know they can get away with bad behavior.
Make punishments fit the crime. Did your child lie about homework? No television or video game time until homework is complete. Is your toddler having trouble sharing with friends? No more playdates until behavior improves.
Sometimes it’s easier to hit our children in the heat of the moment than truly deal with the behavior issues in front of us. It takes time and effort for parents to discipline their children, and it’s not easy. It’s important to separate stress and frustration that isn’t your child’s fault from how you react to your child. Before you hit out of anger, step away and reassess the situation. You may find a better solution to the problem. And you may find that spanking isn’t necessary after all.
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This post was written by Rick Magennis