North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

To spank or not to spank

 


While I have written about the physical punishment of children in a prior article, with the recent events in the NFL surrounding child abuse and domestic violence, and the press that this has generated, I thought it might be a good time to write about it once again.

There is no question that ‘to spank or not to spank’ is one of the most hotly debated child-rearing topics among parents.

Many of us were spanked as children, as it was one of the most common methods of punishment employed by parents to ‘teach kids a lesson’ in the past. And…punishment is what spanking and other similar methods, is! It is NOT discipline.

Punishment, by its very definition, is designed to shame, blame, humiliate or hurt. Discipline is something very different. The root word of discipline is ‘disciple’ which means ‘to teach’. Teaching our children how to ‘be’ in the world (respectful and responsible, able to problem-solve and make good decisions), can be done without punishment.

The research on physical punishment, dating back many decades, is very clear. There is no question that when we hit children, they will stop what they are doing ….we may get instant compliance, but at what cost?

The studies tell us that punishment results in resentment, rebellion, and aggression. It also tends to drive behavior ‘underground’….children who are physically punished, do not necessarily stop the behavior that resulted in the punishment…they just get smarter about not getting caught.

At the other end of the spectrum, spanking can also result in children fearing adults and thinking they must do whatever an adult tells them…hence becoming easy targets for kidnapping, sexual abuse, etc.

Children are watching what WE do every single minute of the day, making decisions about how to behave in the world based on these observations.

If we hit them, what are they truly learning about the world and how to solve problems? If we want them to be respectful, responsible, have good decision-making skills, etc, we must model these characteristics and skills ourselves.

Our job as parents is to help our children see mistakes as opportunities to learn…we need to encourage decision-making by giving them choices and allowing them to be held accountable for those choices. We need to focus on solutions, and future behavior…teaching them what TO do, rather than what NOT to do.

I recommend the ‘Positive Discipline’ series of books by Jane Nelsen, EdD.

Last note….with regard to the NFL players accused recently of child abuse and domestic violence…another arena where ‘looking for solutions’ (requiring these players to attend parenting classes, participate in anger management, volunteer in a domestic violence shelter, etc.) would be much more successful than suspension from games, expulsion from the league, etc.….which simply perpetuates a ‘punishment’ mentality, and teaches nothing.

Penny G. Davis, M.A

Respectful Relationships Consulting

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Parenting Education/Teacher Training/Consultation

http://www.respectful-relationships.com

 

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