Monday, August 1, 2011

If You Hate Spanking Your Kids, Then Stop


A couple of months ago, I made a flowchart illustrating society's rules of hitting. It shows how ridiculous it is that children are not protected from being hit (spanked) by their parents, and in some states, their teachers. Recently, I got a comment on that post that really struck me. I would like to address it here. The comment is reproduced here in full, broken up with my responses to the different parts:
My parents really didn't use other methods of discipline other than spanking(that worked). I've also had the wooden spoon. I got "grounded" but that never really worked. None of my parents' punishments ever really worked (i.e. removal of privileges, removal of precious things, stern talking tos, bribes, rewards(not really a punishment, but a tool nonetheless.)) Spanking...I definitely feared that and it was definite motivation to do whatever it was I was or wasn't doing that needed correcting. And I wasn't exactly a 'willful' child that needed constant spanking or anything like that. I just got bad grades, never did my homework, and the normal childhood/teenage rebellion, etc.
This might be the most difficult hurdle to jump over when trying to think clearly about spanking: You did not deserve to be spanked as a child. Even if you got bad grades, did not do your homework, or did not do exactly as you were told, you did not deserve to be spanked. It can be hard to reconcile this idea with the fact that you like your parents (if you do), and you appreciate all of the great things they did for you. You don't want to be ungrateful. You don't want to think that they made a mistake.
But they are only human too. They made a mistake. They should not have hit you. This does not mean they are terrible parents. It just means they must not have known any better. They can be forgiven.
I do understand where you're coming from with the whole "you shouldn't hit another person, especially your child."
You can say you understand this concept, but if you think your parents were right to spank you, or you are spanking your child, then you clearly don't understand. You just shouldn't hit another person. Not your partner, not your friend, not a stranger who makes you angry, and NOT your child.
But children DO turn out all right with spankings and not just because of their parents "other" disciplinary measures. I'm not saying I encourage spanking, but I will admit that I spank my children as a form of punishment. We don't believe in time-out.
That children "turn out all right" even though they are spanked, is not a good argument for continuing to spank. Children turn out all right in spite of lots of terrible things they suffer. But that doesn't mean other children should be made to suffer the same things. And there are many kids who are spanked and suffer permanent damage because of it (in other words, they do not turn out all right). On the flip side, lots of children also "turn out all right" without ever having been spanked. If the argument works in one direction, it also works in the other.
We do talk to our children and explain what is they're doing wrong and spanking is a last resort. I hate spanking my children, but it is what I think works when I feel I have run out of all other options.
The idea of spanking as a last resort is intriguing to me. If spanking works so well, why not do it first? It would take care of the problem immediately, right? Maybe it's your last resort because it feels wrong. You admit you hate doing it. It feels wrong because it is wrong. It's wrong to hit your child. Just like it's wrong to hit anyone else.
I have also seen a child who's parents use "everything" but spanking and their child is willful, disobedient and malicious and is just a downright terror. This little kid bit my two kids, unprovoked, a total of 15 times. Obviously..."everything" isn't working. Personally, I am of the opinion that the kid needs a good swat on the behind to know that what she did was NOT okay. (And I'm not implying either that the kid needed a spanking after the first bite or even the third, but FIFTEEN is a little excessive.) 
Why are your children in a position to get bitten by the same child fifteen times? If you know the other child has a tendency to bite, then why is he alone with your children long enough to bite them over and over again? Should someone spank you for letting this happen? I don't think so. Try sending the message that the biting "was NOT okay" by having an adult present to intervene when the situation comes up again.

If you are spanking your children and you are perfectly happy with how it feels and the results you are getting, then I am not going to change your mind. But if you HATE spanking your kids, as this commenter does, please rest assured that you do NOT have to do it anymore.

There are alternatives to punitive discipline. You don't have to make your child fear you. You can choose love.


For more of my thoughts about discipline, punishment, and alternatives, check out some of my other posts:

Three Bad Reasons To Hit Children
Why I Don't Discipline My Kids
Help! Am I Raising "Selfish Sociopaths" Who Will Someday Hate Me?
Parenting Without Punishment: Taking Responsibility
Your Baby Can Walk!
What I DO Instead of Punishing My Children

For more reading about spanking, take a look at this comprehensive site: Project NoSpank.