Do you spank your children? I don't mean to ask whether you beat them, but do you ever discipline by hitting your child on the bottom with an open hand? I do not. I'm not judging you if you do. Well, maybe I am. I don't because I was spanked as a child and I know it doesn't work, and I also know that it is a very slippery slope from a tap on the butt to a full-on beating. I've experienced both — and neither accomplished what it set out to do.
When I was a child, spanking was very common. I’m sure many of you reading this piece were spanked at one time or another. Did it kill us? Probably not, though there are certainly children who have died as the result of spankings that got out of control. Did it damage us? In many cases, yes, it did.
Researchers have looked more closely at spanking, and their conclusions match what I've known all along: Hitting children undermines their well-being and damages them. Spanking also increases aggression in children. By spanking a child, you are creating a child full of anger — an unhappy child. I don't think any parent purposely wants to be the cause of his or her child's unhappiness.
Here are five reasons why you should not be spanking your kids.
For spanking to work at all, it has to be done immediately and be accompanied by an explanation so that the child understands that the spanking is a consequence of his or her bad behavior. In my house, my mom always said, "Wait until your father gets home!" Hours later, we received a spanking. It made no sense. It just felt like being hit. The correlation between the spanking and the action that warranted it was lost.
It destroys the influence you have over your children because they lose respect for you. I began to feel like my dad was a loose cannon who could hit me at any time for no reason. This feeling causes a child to be more aggressive. It causes a child to lie to avoid being hit because if he is hit hard enough, there is not much that he wouldn't do to stop the hitting.
It's hard to feel like you have any control when you are told that if you don't stop crying, you will be hit again. It makes a child ask, "What is wrong with me?" It’s hard to feel loved or have any self-worth when even your cries for help are demeaned by the person who is supposed to unconditionally love and protect you. It's a betrayal.
If a child is afraid of being spanked, the fight-or-flight response kicks in, and the only concern he has is to protect himself — to survive. Whatever lesson you are trying to teach him is not being heard.
I find this to be particularly scary. According to a new study, links have been found between a higher frequency of spanking and having a mental health diagnosis later in life. There is a direct correlation between active mental illness and traumatic experiences.
These are just a few reasons why I don't spank and you shouldn't either. There are better ways to discipline our children. If you feel like you must spank, please be sure to count to ten and take a deep breath or just walk away.
Why do you think spanking is or isn't acceptable discipline?
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