Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spanking is not a laughing matter

Spanking is defined as the striking of the buttocks, thigh or hand of a child to cause temporary pain as punishment for unacceptable behavior. Spanking is a hot topic among parents. Some parents believe that spanking is the only way to get their children to behave. I, however, do not believe that spanking or corporal punishment works in the long run. Spanking is for the here and now and does not deter future misbehavior. The most disturbing aspect of spanking is that some parents still use corporal punishment when their children are well into their teenage years. There is a point when spanking stops being effective. I have also heard many people make jokes about the corporal punishment they received as kids especially the objects they were hit with. This is not a laughing matter. As someone who sees the effects of such punishment every day, it is not a topic you can joke about.

Studies have shown that corporal punishment has long term psychological effects on a child and on his or her brain. A recent study out of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario has shown that corporal punishment can effect a child’s cognitive development and may reduce the grey matter of the brain. Other studies have shown a link between the use of corporal punishment and aggression in children. Long term corporal punishment has been shown to cause lasting emotional damage as well as inhibiting the learning process. It can undermine the trust between parent and child and can breed hostility toward authority figures. Despite what the picture below states, spanking doesn't teach respect for others. You can teach respect by showing respect. 

I believe that a quick smack on the thigh or hand to warn the child of danger such as getting too close to the stove or to get their attention for a bad behavior is OK. However, a parents needs to talk to their child to explain why he or she is being punished and why the behavior is unacceptable. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “Parents should explain calmly why they did it, the specific behavior that provoked it, and how angry they felt.” For my husband and I, we feel spanking is the last resort when punishing our two year old daughter. For instance, she has a toy broom that she likes to play with as we sweep the floor. But lately, she has been swinging it around like a sword and in danger of hitting someone or breaking something. We first take the toy away for a period of time while we let her know why the toy has been taken away. After maybe a day, we’ll get it back to her. She has continued to swing the broom that we have taken the toy away permanently. Has she learned her lesson? Maybe not but she can have the toy back when she understands that she cannot swing toys around and hit someone or something. And when she’s older, she’ll lose privileges for misbehavior.

I have spanked my daughter when I was angry and I immediately regret doing so. I hate that I may be teaching her to hit when she’s angry instead of talking it out. If I do spanking her, I immediately kneel down so we see eye to eye and I calmly talk to her about why I hit her and what she did was wrong. I also apologize for hitting her that I don’t like doing it.

Parenting is not an easy job. You have to make decision that you may not know the lasting effects. I know that parents are doing the best job they can. Some parents will quote Proverbs 13:24 (NIV) "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." However, this is verse is talking about careful discipline and does not give parents license to beat their child. The point is to discipline your child in a way that they learn correct behavior. I believe that spanking as the only form of punishment sends the wrong message and confuses children that they never learn what is correct behavior. People will also try and say that the Bible says, "spare the rod and spoil the child" which is not true. This phrase never appears in the Bible. It is actually from a poem by Samuel Butler called Hudibras published in 1664. 

My point is if a parent is going to use spanking or corporal punishment, please do so with careful consideration and understand what your limits and boundaries are. The last thing you want to do is go to far. Our children are the best legacy we can leave to the world.