Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spanking - Corporal Punishment: Are there alternatives?

You have probably heard the old expression; "Spare the Rod Spoil the Child".  It's from the Old Testament. 
About 15 years ago I was attending a seminar by a Jewish physician and expert on child abuse.  He brought up the old expression and presented a twist.  The "Rod" spoken of in the passages of scripture in the Old Testament refers to "the word of God." 
Though I must admit, I have spanked my children, I am not found of spanking.  My oldest, I spanked about 10 times and the number of times decreased for each of my younger children.  I don't remember ever spanking my youngest son; but he claims I did it once.  I believe that as I became a better parent, I spanked less.  Much less.  Even when I did spank any of my children, it was limited to one swat with my open hand on the buttocks.
I have also slapped a hand a few times and have thumped with my finger; but good consistent parenting really does eliminate the need for corporal punishment and in the long run, the benefit to spanking is negligible if there is any benefit at all.
Often spanking does not provide the desired results; except for temporary personal stress release, which is a terrible and selfish reason to spank.
I love an old and true story of a young boy who was in church listening to a particularly long and dry sermon.  After some time he turned to his father and pleaded, "please take me outside and spank me!"
Personally I don't like yelling either, and believe that sometimes yelling is even worse than spanking, at least as I described what I have done in the past.  As a child protection supervisor, I saw horrific results of physical abuse; but I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about one swat on the buttocks with an open hand.  I have heard parents yell and make derogatory remarks to their children which were so bad I personally would have preferred they had given the child one good swat with an open hand on the buttocks and left it at that.   Neither are good positive ways to teach children and I wish I had been a better parent and spanked my two oldest children much less or not at all. 
This doesn't mean I'm against punishment.  Punishment has it's place when needed and appropriate; however, rewarding and praising children for doing what you want them to do, and what they should be doing is always the better way.  We'll talk about this more elsewhere; but reward doesn't have to be money or something purchased.  It can be things like: Thank you, Good Job, and I'm proud of the way you did....
In most states and countries spanking isn't against the law; but it is against the law to cause a bruise, break skin, cause a laceration, or break a bone in most countries and should be in all.  In-spite of this, good consistent parents just really don't need to spank.  There are better ways.  There are lots of things you can do (many of which will be discussed elsewhere on this website) which are more productive than spanking.

Supplemental Material:
Spanking Moms Spur Aggression in Kids
Spanking in the home and children's subsequent aggression toward kindergarten peers
Spanking in Early Childhood and Later Behavior Problems: A Prospective Study of Infants and Young Toddlers
This meta-analysis investigates differences between the effect sizes of physical punishment and alternative disciplinary tactics for child outcomes in 26 qualifying studies
Six good alternatives to spanking
Ten Alternatives to Spanking   

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