At some point since the “terrible twos” when your child has talked back or disobeyed rules, the thought of giving a spanking has probably crossed your mind. Maybe you were spanked as a child and feel it was an effective form of discipline, or you’ve tried everything from reasoning, to punishments, to time-outs and nothing has worked. You know that there is a great deal of controversy about the matter, but you start to wonder if it really is that bad? The simple answer is yes.
Spanking is a form of corporal punishment that is the act of striking a child on the behind with an open hand. It can also include hitting with a paddle, wooden spoon or belt. It is a form of discipline that has been used for centuries to tame disobedient children. However, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Dr. Spock published his groundbreaking book, which told parents not to focus on strict discipline, but to treat children as individuals. The sea change in attitude brought about legislation that has outlawed domestic corporal punishment of children in 30 different countries.
Further research over the past few decades has continued to support this theory. A 2010 study showed that 3 year olds who were spanked more than 2 times per month had 50% higher chances to have hostile tendencies by 5 years old. Furthermore, this past July, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study that found that physical punishment like spanking and slapping, was linked to mood, anxiety and personality disorders, as well as substance abuse. The bottom line is that while physical discipline may give the parent a feeling of immediate satisfaction, in the long run it causes emotional issues for the child on the receiving end.
In the news last week is the story of a high school student in Texas who was paddled by a male Vice Principal. Apparently, she let another student copy her work and was caught, although she says she was unaware that the situation was occurring. She was given 2 days of in-school suspension for cheating, but after one day she decided she didn’t want to miss anymore classroom instruction and opted for a paddling. Needless to say, she was left bruised and humiliated.
Texas is one of 19 states that still allow corporal punishment. Efforts to have it banned failed last year, but parents can opt to have their children be exempted from this type of punishment. In this situation, the girl’s mother had approved of the paddling so that her top student could get back to class. The problem arose when a male Vice Principal was the one who did the swatting. School policy specifies that males swat males, and females swat females. His size and strength resulted in more serious injuries to the student.
To overcome the feelings of wanting to hit or spank your child when they act up, caregivers can take anger management courses specifically designed for parents. High quality and convenient classes are available online. Take them to learn skills to better manage and control stress, so that your angry feelings don’t turn into corporal punishment. Classes can be taken from any Internet based computer, in the privacy of your own home, and at any time that is convenient for you. It is in the best interest of your family to approach punishment in a less severe, more emotionally successful manner.