When it comes to bringing children into this world, there is an abundance of divisive topics- “natural” births vs. medicated/C-section births, breast-feeding vs. formula-feeding, disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers, pacifiers vs. no-pacifiers, and so forth.
So many of these so-called issues are not really worth my time to argue, simply because I don’t see much harm in opting for one method of doing things over another. My motto is always this; as long as no one is emotionally or physically harmed in the process, whatever works best for your family is the ideal method of doing things. I don’t care whether or not you had a home-birth or had to be induced. I don’t care if you breast-fed or bottle-fed or whether your child wears Huggies or has been trained in Elimination Communication since birth. These types of topics do not concern any of us and we should not judge others for doing something that we ourselves do not include in our parenting repertoire.
However, there is one parenting topic that I believe warrants all the disapproval and judgment that it gets: spanking.
It upsets me to know that parents and care-takers continue to use spanking as a means to punish their children. I find it disturbing and wrong. What bothers me most about spanking is that the emotional impact will sustain long after the pain subsides. Study after study has shown long-term negative consequences to spanking, but many parents are still not listening. The problem? Chances are that parents who spank were probably spanked by their own parents.
Rather than eliminate any negative and inappropriate behavior from children, the aggressive action behind spanking actually reinforces and validates the very behavior that the parent hopes to eradicate. Responding to a child with spanking will often lead to more tantrums and frustrated behavior. A child who is spanked will often become more aggressive over time. In the subconscious mind of a child who is spanked, they have two choices; remain the victim or become the aggressor. Not surprisingly, many children who are spanked become bullies. Some change, but many do not. Spanked children will often become parents who spank their own children. Thus, the vicious cycle continues. When will it end?
Spanking doesn’t work in the long-run. However, there are many non-aggressive behavioral training tools out there that can effectively change behavior for good. I have written on how to eliminate negative behaviors and encourage good behavior. My methodology is simple and straight-forward: consistency, clarity, and positive reinforcement. In my blog post, Raising Likable Kids, I explain tips on reinforcing positive and negative behaviors in children. These are the things that work and should be included in your discipline style. Eliminating inappropriate, aggressive, or negative behavior in children takes work and patience. If you think you can change your children with a spank, you’re absolutely right. But you’re changing them for the worse.
What say you? Please share any comments or questions.