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Child Discipline – Is it Reasonable to Spank a Kid?

Child Discipline – Should children be disciplined with spanking or is that too old school to be used anymore?

In this post, I’d like to explore the issue of spanking children.

  1. Should children be spanked or physically disciplined in any way?
  2. Are those that spank just incapable of finding another way to discipline their children?
  3. Are there any angles we are missing?

If you don’t have a position on this issue, my hopes are after we are finished you will! I’ve got a few expert opinions we will discuss on both sides of this issue. We will look at those perspectives and see how close or far away we personally are from those ideals. Whenever I do something like this I find that my opinions may change SEVERAL times on an issue that I thought I was totally sold on to begin with.

I want us to have a deeper conviction for what we already think is right, or have totally changed our perspectives in the end. We will also check out some STATS and see what those look like that relate to this child discipline and try and connect some dots in society today.

Possible thoughts coming in:

  1. You might think that spanking emotionally damages children and any physical contact is morally wrong. You could be right.
  2. You may think this is just another stupid blog about spanking, and if we did more of it ALL of society’s problems would go away with a swat to the kids hind-parts! You too might be right.

I respect all opinions…but one opinion might be more REASONABLE than the other, so lets take a look!

Spanking Debate

Some of us know in our hearts that spanking a child or physically touching a child to discipline them is the most horrible thing you can do. Mainstream school of thought believes that children could, no, no, WILL BE emotionally, and mentally damaged and scarred from such abuse. I agree. Abusing a child will leave lasting effects that will linger and harm them throughout their lives.

Some of you might think that children need a good smack on the butt every now and then! What’s the old saying, “spare the rod spoil the child”…I believe that is from the Bible Verse Proverbs 13:24

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

When you read those words you probably salivated a bit. You might think that some of the world’s biggest problems stem from parents neglecting their disciplinary duties when raising their young children.

There are then the rest of you that believe a firm hand won’t hurt them but can’t remember the last time you thought a kid needed that type of reigning in.

I think I’ve covered everyone…which group do you reasonably fall into? No seriously, where do you stand! That’s why you are reading this blog right?

We TREAD lightly. That’s reasonable…..

  • TELL your position. (Here is what I think!)
  • REAFFIRM your position. (I knew I was right! I was just checking!)
  • EXPLORE your position. (Here is what I think. Am I missing anything?)
  • ALTER your position. (Whoa. Never in a million years!)
  • DISCOVER your position. (Oh, that’s what I think! I had no idea!)

My Position…

Lets start with a quick scenario. Actually, this just happened to me last week. I was in the supermarket and this little kid was pitching a fit in the potato chip isle. I was in the process of picking out bluest, most perfect air-chip ratio of my o-so-delicious Cool Ranch Doritos. Admittedly, I lingered considering if I’d give the Spicy Nacho another shot this week…Decisions, Decisions…. anyway. I think this little kid was being a bit unreasonable! You be the judge.

The kid wants to get some sort of cheesy puffs or something like that. Mom must’ve taken the time to consider her 4 year old, and his diet. She apparently said no to the cheese puffs…he didn’t like or expect that response. That’s really an understatement, he was yelling at her, screaming at her. He said things like, he ‘hated her’, he ‘wished she was dead’, he proclaimed his intentions to ‘never talk to her ever ever again’!

I’m thinking this kid means business! I was still in mid-Dorito decision, but was paralyzed at what I was seeing and hearing. Mom launched into some form of sophisticated negotiation tactic, she undoubtedly saw on an episode of Law and Order. She began by asking him, if ‘he would prefer cheese-its or teddy grahams or something like that.’ Personally I’d have taken the sugary teddy Grahams and been pretty happy with it, but that’s just me. Well this little guy, had clearly beaten this technique before, he responded with more pressure towards mom. In fact, he threw a few bags of chips on the floor, yelled some little kid gibberish, and then threw his body on the floor next to the chips he angrily placed there earlier.

What was Mom doing now, you might ask? She kept asking him to stand up, she kept up the pressure, telling him some privilege would be lost if he kept up this “Unacceptable behavior”. This seemed like a scenario that had played itself out at least a few times in the past, because her son clearly had heard this annoying telemarketing pitch before and already had his; “Please remove this number from your list” speech queued up! “No, No, Chips, Shut up Dummy!” he yelled. I was amazed at this interaction. Mom didn’t know what to do, but I guess she was trying everything she could to calm the situation.

Now just to let you know where I stand, I don’t believe spanking is abuse. I think those are 2 distinctly different words, with 2 distinctly different meanings. Sparing the rod may not be best either. I believe that a pat on the rear, a finger wag, a raised voice, are all things that could inspire some immediate and positive change in a child. If you disagree with the behavior greatly, your corrective measures should be more……firm, and deliberate. If you don’t care so much then maybe your corrective measures shouldn’t be as harsh. Sort of like the legal system, speeding 12 miles over the speed limit does not earn you the same punishment as money laundering now does it!

Lets check out what some extremely qualified people have to say about spanking children! Then we will come back to aisle 3 and we can make a decision on our Doritos, and make decisions on where we stand with what should happen with the boy using the floor as his personal tantrum space.

The Argument that Spanking Works

Kitty O’Callan – Contributing Editor at Babytalk Magazine highlights a few interesting facts at http://www.parenting.com.

Kitty says that:

  • 94% of 3 and 4 year-olds have been spanked at least once during the past year, according to one study.
  • 74% of mothers believe spanking is acceptable for kids ages 1 to 3, says another study. 
  • 61% of parents condone spanking as a “regular form of punishment” for young children, according to a different study.

I find these stats interesting. They are all over 50% of the population if correct, yet 50% percent of the population, do not beat their wives, become alcoholics, display uncontrollable amounts of aggression, or whatever else people say kids that get spanked will do. 

Wait, Wait, wait a second. I would go out on a limb and say that there ARE many people in the world that are overly aggressive, angry, and have what I would call, poor social interaction skills. I don’t know what that’s attributed to, but it may or may not be because of being spanked.

The Argument that Spanking Does Not Work

An article by Kim Olver passionately states on http://psychcentral.com that:

  • Spanking demonstrates that older people have a right to hit younger people.
  • Spanking can increase the likelihood of developing mental health symptoms.
  • Spanking reduces the influence you have with your children.
  • Spanking teaches children to lie to avoid detection or to avoid you.

I find these statements interesting as well. They are just that statements, opinions in fact. They are not based on any metrics or numbers. The statements above have the words, demonstrates, can increase, reduces, and teaches…. when you say words like these people might think you are the authority on a subject, without requiring you to come up with any evidence.

These statements may only assert what the writer “believes” will happen. To be fair Kim Olver could be absolutely correct. I just like numbers, stats, heck histories or case studies would do just fine. I think Kim makes good points…. I just can’t be sure.

Physical Punishment of Children: Lessons from 20 years of research.

Dr. Joan Durrant, and Ron Ensom MSW RSW

Canadian Medical Association Journal Document

http://www.nospank.net/durrant&ensom.pdf

Key points

  • Numerous studies have found that physical punishment increases the risk of broad and enduring negative developmental outcomes.
  • No study has found that physical punishment enhances developmental health.
  • Most child physical abuse occurs in the context of punishment.
  • A professional consensus is emerging that parents should be supported in learning nonviolent, effective approaches to discipline.

Physical Punishment in Children Tied to Mental Disorders

Traci Pedersen – Associate News Editor

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D

http://psychcentral.com

Almost 20 percent of those who remembered being physically punished had suffered depression, and 43 percent had abused alcohol at some point in their life. This is compared to 16 percent of people who were not hit or slapped who complained of having suffered depressed and 30 percent who abused alcohol.

Studies Breakdown

So,

  • If 20 percent of those spanked suffered depression does that mean 80% of the spanked did not? Please quantify the statistics.
  • 43% had abused alcohol, does that mean 43% had gotten drunk at some point in their lives…are we able to fairly attribute that to spanking alone? Wouldn’t that mean 57% of the population has remained alcohol free – after being spanked? Those are tough numbers to follow.

These statistics rule out things like low self-esteem, lack of ambition, significant parental pressures, or not enough. Are environmental factors besides physical punishment being weighed or considered here? These are tough stats to follow because we Reasonably know that there are many things that can lead one to suffer depression, abuse drugs, or not be as productive members of society.

Let’s Finish Up

Ok Ok, so now we have the professional prospective. Have you moved from your initial position? Or have you put down permanent roots where you were before, and have a deeper conviction on where you stand…I’m very curious.

I think I’ve stayed the same here. I believe that beating a child with weird or not so weird objects is wrong, bad, detrimental, whatever else you want to say. JUST PLAIN-OL’ WRONG. Yelling at a kid day after day, is not healthy either. I personally feel that a discussion before any type of discipline is critical. Another discussion, after the discipline, is dealt out is probably even more important than the first. The age of the child is an important factor to consider. A 2 year old might not understand a week of lost privileges, while a 13 year old might not learn from sitting on the timeout stair!

The temperament, receptiveness, and personality of the child are more things to consider.

The parent should probably do what they are comfortable with, based on their perspective, and what’s most healthy for the child.

I think the child can be spanked if the parent can refrain from spanking in anger or out of frustration. I think the child can get yelled at and not come out emotionally broken on the other end of that. I also think that the child can get punished, or grounded appropriately, regardless of what method is used.

What is appropriate, and who makes that decision? What’s Reasonable?

Every topic we discuss here will not have right and wrong answers. Even if you feel that there are right and wrong answers. There may only be more reasonable or less reasonable answers. We together will always seek what’s most reasonable.

I also think that physical punishments should and should not be a last resort. Let me explain:

Whatever punishment you employ, should have been weighed and considered against all factors that you could factor in at the time. If a pat on the butt can get your kids attention, and keep them safe, or out of the street preventing them from being hit by a car, maybe that punishment should be swift exact, and quickly explained. If your best, darkest, scowl can suffice, I’d say employ that. Only you know the children you are responsible for, and what they will best respond to.

Back to the store and my Doritos!

Ok I don’t think there was anything this mom could do besides corral her son as best she could, and usher him out of the store into the car. Reaching that point in a supermarket just showed that there wasn’t much in the way of reasonable discipline leveraged against the boy on any regular basis. That’s ok…it’s not the end of the world. Maybe starting at home is a good idea. That way the supermarket won’t need a chip cleanup on aisle 3, and some guy won’t be visually paralyzed while making a difficult Doritos selection!

Most importantly do whatever you feel is best. If you are uncomfortable don’t do it. If you spank your kid too much, maybe a more reasonable look at how you handle discipline is in order. We all want respectful, socially responsible, human beings living amongst us as adults. Maybe disciplining children when they are young, will make for a more reasonable society that understands there are consequences for their actions.

Let me know where you stand, if you changed let me know in the comments below. I’d love to chat with you guys about this. Don’t forget to be Reasonable in your comments!

It’s Action Time!

Ok this is the section where I give you 3 ways to experiment with how you might try to become more reasonable. This can be through passive action, assertive action, or aggressive action.

Passive Action – Could be where you take a small step that won’t usually affect anyone else. This step could be something no one ever knows you take, but taking this action could lead you to taking more assertive action.

Assertive Action – Can be an action where people may find out what you’ve done to become more reasonable or maybe it’s a change of habit or mindset change. Could be temporary or more permanent.

Aggressive Action – This is an action that unmistakably identifies the reasonable action you’ve taken to change your habits or direction to become directly more reasonable to yourself, or directly impact the lives of your friends, families, co-workers, or anyone for that matter.

Passive Action

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Assertive Action

Take a look around you; try to take note of when you are around a child and their authority figure. Or the next time you are watching a TV show where there are kids and a parent/guardian dynamic, take a look at what you might think is reasonable. THEN here is the Action part. Talk about things with someone you know and can respect and talk to. The caveat here is not to be gossipy about it…that would be unreasonable. Just discuss what you are watching. If you have children but have been struggling, ask your children if they think they get disciplined enough. If you discipline your kids in anyway at all, ASK them if they think their punishments are adequate. Tell them before you ask, ‘you will not get upset or punish them at all’. You are interested in their opinions, and would like to know what they think. Tell them that you will take everything under advisement, and think of it for a bit and talk to them later. You cannot have this become a discussion or debate. Thank them, WALK AWAY and THINK about things from their perspective. The idea here is to either reinforce what you currently do, change it all or just make reasonable adjustments moving forward.

Aggressive Action

If you have children and you have a tough time with getting them to, understand what you’d like from them, try something. Try going into your child’s room and removing their television or removing the phone service maybe even the phone itself. I’m not a fan of the timeout chair or corner I think the kids might not like the corner but they might resent you for that. If your children want some new shoes, ask them to clean the bathrooms. This could inspire a spirit of helping, or giving and receiving. If you are afraid of the cleaning fumes and your fragile child breaking from 20 minutes of fume inhalation grab a mask and gloves from the hardware store, and make them do it anyway. Discuss the expectations with them that they now have to meet, discuss with them the consequences of not meeting those expectations. If the expectations are not being met, increase the consequences. There is something that every child likes doing, remove the item. Then try giving them the strategies to getting back what was taken away. Try to stay calm, try to stay strong. This may be new to you, and that’s ok! Don’t bite off more than you can chew, after all, you are taking action. That’s pretty Reasonable I’d say! Who could argue with that!

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