To Spank, Or Not To Spank, That Is The Question
Spanking. The age-old final straw and disciplinary action that’s been used for as long as we can remember. For most of us over the age of 18, a spanking was as much a part of our childhood as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and watching Barney.
As we as a society move toward a more progressive understanding of things such as mental health and emotional support, it’s drawn up the question of whether spanking does more damage than good.
Before we jump to conclusions, we should address why spanking happens.
Why exactly do parents resort to spanking?
- Desperation: The number one reason spanking happens is out of desperation. You’ve tried everything else in the book and your child still isn’t listening, so – they get a spanking.
- Emphasis: You want to emphasize the severity of the action. Your child did something really bad and you want to make sure it never happens again. Ever.
- Exasperation: Something happens and you immediately act out of anger or frustration resulting in a spanking.
Although spanking can be an immediate solution to getting your point across and emphasizing the wrong doing, it can cause many long term effects in a child’s psychology, and also doesn’t always solve a problem.
Negative effects of spankings:
- Spankings cause shame: Children who feel ashamed or that they aren’t well behaved can struggle heavily with self-esteem issues later in life. Shame can cause a child to lose the motivation to improve his or her behaviors.
- Spanking can encourage aggressive behavior: Children get behavioral influences from their parents. If violence is used as a disciplinary action in the household, it can easily transfer over to everyday use. This can also get especially confusing if spanking is used as a punishment for a child hitting their sibling.
- Spanking doesn’t teach a valuable lesson: Spanking doesn’t teach children how to fix their behavioral issues. For example, spanking a child for not sharing their toy with a friend or sibling isn’t going to teach them how to share.
- Spanking loses effectiveness over time and isn’t an option as children grow older: As children become used to spanking, it can often shift their mindset from “I shouldn’t do this” to “the spanking won’t be that bad” and is actually worth completing the negative behavior. Spanking also is very age-based. It becomes a far less effective method of discipline at age 18 than it was at age 6.
As mentioned above, spanking doesn’t actually solve a problem. It doesn’t teach children HOW to behave correctly. So what can we do? What are the alternatives? Thankfully there are a number.
Alternative methods of discipline:
- Time out: Not only does a time out teach a child to think about what they’ve done introspectively, it also helps calm them down, which is an effective life tool that can be used well into adulthood and beyond.
- Taking away privileges or toys: Whether it be TV, video games, a cell phone or favorite toy, taking away something your child values for a temporary period of time can be incredibly effective. You can even figure out an effective way to teach a lesson by allowing to earn them back after completing a task.
- Rewarding good behavior: We often get wrapped up in punishment for negative behavior that we forget how effective it can be to reward for positive actions. Sharing or getting along with siblings, getting good grades or feedback in school, or doing something nice for someone else are all things that can be praised. Children will catch on to this system and it will encourage them to make smarter choices.
- Logical consequences: Linking the consequence to the behavioral action is a great way for kids to learn from their mistakes. For example, if they don’t clean up their toys after playing with them, don’t allow them to play with them for 24 hours or so. Providing a direct and understandable correlation between the misbehavior and the consequence is a great way to help them onto the right track.
- Selective ignoring: Ignoring your child, especially when they’re portraying negative attention seeking behavior can be a great teacher. Obviously if they are doing something dangerous or exceptionally bad this isn’t an effective tool, but if they’re whining or complaining and trying to attract attention, this can be incredibly effective.
The evidence is pretty clear. Spanking doesn’t actually teach anything. So next time your child acts up or is driving you up a wall, try one of these alternative methods to discipline. You may be surprised at the results.