People seem to have a very faulty understanding of spanking, I’m beginning to notice. I thought perhaps shedding some light on proper spanking would be helpful.
So let’s go in the same format as the Bible Myth Debunking. Here are some common wrong headed ideas I see about spanking.
“Hitting a kid that’s already crying only makes things worse.”
To successfully argue with someone, you must have a layer of mutual respect. You can shout at each other sure. To suggest that an upright adult doesn’t know spanking a crying child to get them to stop crying is counter intuitive is frankly, insulting.
Here is why, and this is the central tenet of spanking properly, so I am going to embolden it.
You spank a child only because they disobeyed you.
If you’re doing it for another reason, take note, you’re doing it wrong. Think about it. Children don’t know a single thing. They don’t know it’s not cool to stick fingers in light sockets or run out into traffic, or to put the cat in the microwave.
But what they can learn, and surprisingly quickly, is to obey their parents.
And that is the keystone to parenting. Having your children obey you. Once that’s down, you can teach them anything.
So yeah, we know spanking a crying kid makes it worse. Only a moron would spank their kid expecting it to magically cease crying in the child.
You spank them if they’re throwing a tantrum. Meaning they are displaying their emotions in an unacceptable disruptive way. Even then, you only do so after you have told them to stop throwing a tantrum. And if they cry more as the result of the spanking, that’s OK. Those tears will dry, and they will have learned that disobeying their parent comes with a negative result. It should also be discussed with the child, no matter how young. You should always explain why a spanking has taken place, and the explanation should always contain some variation of “because you disobeyed me.” It’s a simple lesson to learn, and that’s why it is used on children. Which brings us to our next myth.
“ So if I don’t like what YOU’RE doing, I can hit you?” AKA: You’re teaching your child violence by being violent.
No. Actually, the opposite is true. I’ll get to that in the next paragraph. Adults have advanced reasoning capabilities. We don’t have to have our discussions boiled down to “negative effect, positive effect.” We can explain to each other in great detail any situation.
Children learn these cognitive skills eventually but in the mean time they must obey their parents. It is the foundation of all parenting and if it is not practiced and practiced consistently, that will create problems that will indeed haunt the child for life, and in the meantime they tend to throw tantrums, be disruptive to those around their parents, and yes, a lack of discipline leads to…wait for it…violence. I have seen I don’t know how many undisciplined children hit my daughter as their parents rolled their eyes and silently judged me for spanking my kid in front of them when she disobeyed.
“Just because you’re frustrated doesn’t mean you should hit your child, that is lazy parenting.”
Actually, shocker, I agree. You should never hit your child because you are frustrated. That is an awful thing to do. That, THAT is no better than socking your coworker because he got the last Splenda. That’s childish, and frankly, if you do it, you should be ashamed and I pity your child. You let a child push you over a very solid established edge of appropriate adult behavior and you will likely damage your child in this way, mentally or physically if you continue.
A spanking should be controlled, methodical, consistent, and with reason. Again that reason should be “you disobeyed me.” I will say that over and over again because it’s the only reason to spank a child.
The reason should be discussed, and it should be made clear that you do this only because you dearly love your child.
When you hit your child from frustration, it produces another problem besides all the ones above. It’s inconsistent. If you just let your child get you to the boiling point then explode, they know they have all of that time before you explode that they can poke the bear. And they like to see if that line moves. They like to test limits. It’s how human beings learn. So your child’s behavior will just get worse and worse and worse.
And honestly, it makes me sad to see an undisciplined child. Their parents are often exhausted, and as a result a malaise sets in. That’s not a childhood. A parent in constant fear of having to put up with a child is a nightmare for all involved. If you can’t get your child to obey basic commands, you’re going to have huge problems. How do you get them to potty train? How do you get them to eat healthy foods? How do you even get them to go to bed? It robs a child of a stable life. That’s YOUR job to provide. Stability. Be the parent. Do not allow your child to develop poorly.
“You can teach that lesson without spanking.”
I will allow for the possibility because frankly I have seen some good kids who are not spanked. I will also say, if you’re a Christian, the Lord your God has told you that spanking is the best method of rearing a child. So while other methods may suffice, spanking is consistently the best, and not only because of that. I never advocate blind Bible verse following. Zeal without knowledge is warned against in the Bible. So here is the real world reason spanking works.
It can be done every single time your child disobeys you. That’s all. It’s just one thing that can be done in a highly consistent fashion, and it cannot be misinterpreted by the child. It’s just so simple, that it works in every single scenario for which discipline is needed.
Time out? I personally loved going to a parent’s house who put their kids in time out. I knew I could get away with the blackest of sins and only be relegated to a corner as my punishment. I would sit in the corner and scheme about what I would do next in this house of USELESS PUNISHMENTS because it was not for me a negative reinforcement. I would daydream, oh I had a vivid imagination. Draw on the wall with my finger, whatever. I could wait with the best of them. What a truly and fundamentally weak wristed punishment.
Maybe taking a toy? Is it their prized toy? Is it always there? If I take a toy from my child she can play with 400 others. If I take them all away, well that’s essentially a time out, and we know how I feel about those. This method cannot be replicated in say a store where the child may be toyless in the first place. What do you take then? A shoe? That seems silly and cruel.
Reasoning? Impossible. The child is undeveloped. Maybe you can try to advance your child sufficiently so they understand reason but I have never seen a consistent result with this. It isn’t punishment at all. It’s treating your child like an adult. I have seen it work, but not always and with immense strain. And children should be free to be children, unburdened by ideas of the whys and hows of right and wrong. When they are old enough to understand the greatest commandments of Christ, they will know right and wrong. Just let them be kids. A spanking is one two three pats and you’re done. I hated when my parent switched to grounding and honestly yearned for spankings. So simple! But alas I had grown to reason and they were of no further use to me. The groundings though…those hurt. It was not until my adult years that I finished all the missed episodes of Ally McBeal that grounding had taken from me. I missed most of the Robert Downey Jr. run. It was truly a shame.
“You’re just parenting by fear.”
I could say something snotty to this like “at least I’m parenting.” It really does feel warm and cozy on my tongue and I’d love to leave it at that.
Kids don’t fear parents for spanking them. They may fear them for abusing them, but we aren’t talking about abuse. We’re talking about spanking. They fear the spanking. And you know what? I’m fine with that. It keeps them alive. People are always amazed by how well my child behaves. I tell her to stop, and she will freeze immediately. That keeps her from things like walking into ant hills, tripping her pregnant mother, playing with the light socket (I’m not making that up as an example, children LOVE attempting suicide, it’s literally their favorite thing to do.)
When they get older and learn reasoning, I would love to explain to them why the right thing is the right thing and how complicated that all gets. But when my daughter still says “H I K K EMEMEMEMO P” while singing her ABCs, I’m fine with her learning to do what’s right by being afraid of the repercussions.
The alternative is what, teach a child empathy? How many of your actions on a given day are the result of empathy? Really. Sit down and be honest with yourself and think about it. Did you open the door for the lady because you wanted her life to be easier, or because you were taught that men who let doors slam in women’s faces are not good men? Do you bring food to Church because you wanted all those people to enjoy your casserole, or because the other hens at church will cackle about you if you show up empty handed? Because here’s the thing, you’re not a good person.
No one is. We are all mired and shackled in sin. Selfishness is our most core instinct. The few times in my life I have done things out of empathy, out of a sincere wish that the other party is happy, I can only give credit to God’s grace. Without that it’s just all dark matter under the skin. I think if you’re honest with yourself, and you really boil your motivations down, you’ll find the same is true. And I think you’ll find you’re not teaching your kids empathy, you’re teaching your kid to avoid 3 hour speeches from their parent.
I also want to help folks understand the difference in the results of a study and fact.
Studies are disproven all the time especially with Psychology. They call psychology a “soft science” for a reason. There isn’t a whole lot that is concrete in it, because there are far too many variables in the human mind to account for every single individual. As a result, facts are hard to come by in the psychological community. We can say “this group demonstrated these traits after this stimuli” but the next group could be different. And a group in 10 years could be different.
The results of studies and research are often proven wrong, and rarely become what we know as “incontrovertible fact.” So just because you have some information on some studies, that doesn’t mean that information is relevant to me or my child, and that’s true for every parent.
This is why spanking is perfectly legal (to varying degrees depending on your state) in all 50 states.
Because if it were definitively proven that spanking were harmful, it would certainly be banned.
Spanking isn’t fun for children or parents, or it shouldn’t be. I never wanted to spank my daughter, but it didn’t take much steeling myself before I could. Because I knew that by doing this I would be protecting her from a life of victimhood, lack of self control, and childishness. It is not a point of pride to me that I spank my child, it’s simply…what should be. She is a wonderful girl and I love her so much. I love her so much that I do the uncomfortable thing, the difficult thing, and I spank her when she disobeys me, and every single time she disobeys me. That’s really the hardest part. Sometimes you want to just let it go, let’s not ruin the time we’re having by having to listen to her cry, and it will CERTAINLY ruin her time…but I do it. And we get over it, and it’s not that much of a distraction from our day.
So carry on with your snide remarks, your smug superiority because you “read a study,” or because you think you have one over on us traditional parents. I guess time will tell who ultimately got it right.
Stay humble folks.