Spare the Child, Ditch the Rod

Spare the rod, spoil the child!

This philosophy's been around a long time.

In fact, a study done by Zero to Three, a nonprofit child-development group, found that 61 percent of the adults who responded, condone spanking as a regular form of punishment. The percentage of parents who actually use spanking is believed to be much higher.

And when my five year old son's behavior went beyond annoying a few days ago, I felt inclined to join the majority, and swat him to "teach him a lesson."

Most parents reach this point with their kids. You feel as though you can't take any more of what your kids are dishing out. It usually happens when you're tired, stressed, and overdone.

So what are your choices when you reach this point?

Spanking certainly can take care of things quickly, and can temporarily change your kids behavior. But there are many reasons to question the practice of spanking your kids. Here are five of them:

1. Do you really want your kids to be afraid of you?

Kids will sometimes obey more readily when they're afraid of you. Is this what you really want? What happens when they're six feet two and two hundred pounds? Effective parenting is based on love and respect, not fear.

2. Spanking shows your kids that you lack self-control

The huge majority of spanking incidents come when a parent is angry. What is quite clear to your child is this: when my Dad or Mom gets angry, they hit me. And when the same child hits his sister when he gets angry, do you demand that he shows better self-control?

Something's wrong with this picture. You teach your kids best through your own actions.

3. You may breed resentment and anger in your kids

Kids who are spanked usually don't learn a great deal about "correcting" their misbehavior. They don't usually sit in their rooms and say, "Gosh, I can really see after getting spanked that I was wrong. I'll do better now." They do think about how angry their Dad or Mom is, and they can develop a good deal of resentment for their parents.

4. Spanking shows your kids that "might makes right"

Adults make mistakes in their lives too, right? Can we use our imaginations, and visualize what it would be like for someone four times our size to pick us up, and swat us on the butt? What would we learn from that? Would we feel any injustice? You can bet your kids are feeling some.

5. Spanking isn't effective in the long run

Parents who are asked why they spank will report that they use it to "teach their kids a lesson," or so they won't misbehave again. Many kids who are spanked will go underground with their misbehavior, and become more cunning to avoid being caught. (Wouldn't you?) If you're spanking your kids fairly often, doesn't this show that it's not working very well?

Kids who are spanked occasionally aren't ruined for life. But spanking isn't necessary to discipline a child. There are countless examples of disciplined and responsible young people who were never spanked by their parents.

Parents who don't spank their kids use time outs, re-directing, or distracting with their kids. They can pick their kids up and let them cool down, or simply leave the area themselves, so they don't do something they'd regret later.

While these methods aren't always perfect, they help to form the foundation of a certain kind of household: One in which violence is not "taught" as a means to better behavior.

After all, we live in a world that's filled with violence.

Can't we provide a place for our kids where there isn't any?

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches men to be better fathers and husbands. He is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers" http://www.markbrandenburg.com/father.htm For more great tips and action steps for fathers, sign up for his FREE bi-weekly newsletter, "Dads, Don't Fix Your Kids," at http://www.markbrandenburg.com

In The News:

Parenting Kids in the Age of Screens, Social Media and Digital Devices  Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project
The Real Work of Parenting a Rare Girl  The Wall Street Journal
The Case Against Tickling  The New York Times
‘They Go to Mommy First’  The New York Times
What Are Pandemic School Pods?  The New York Times

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