Let’s cut straight to the chase. Please, don’t do it! Period. That could be the end of this newsletter, but let’s go on.
Spanking is probably one of the most hotly debated topics of parenting and one where we might just have to agree to disagree. I can’t argue with parents when they sit in my office and tell me “well it worked on me.” I agree with them, because it probably did work — for the moment anyway. Children usually straighten up after a spanking because they are fearful of us and they are in physical pain. Emotionally, they are sad, embarrassed and angry. But, this kind of change in their behavior is not for the long term. Most importantly though, because of the hitting, there is a disconnect in the parent-child relationship. When that connection is gone, we’ve got problems.
Parents also say to me “my parents spanked me and I turned out just fine.” I agree with that too, because they probably are ok. Then, I ask them
if they hadn’t been spanked, do they think they would be less likely to spank their kids? Did they feel close to their parents after they were spanked? Did they trust their parents and feel safe enough to go to them with important matters. And then, I want to know how they remember feeling after they got a spanking. I also want to know if it made them feel like cooperating or rebelling.
With a steady diet of this negative way of parenting, children can become:
One mother was in disbelief when her child told her that he liked to make her mad. He was paying her back. For what? He was so angry with her because of the way she punished him. By the way, yelling, threatening and spanking were her preferred ways to try and manage him.
Spanking relieves parents of their stress since they usually wait to spank until they’re at the end of their rope. That is unfair to take their frustration out on their kids in this way. Before most parents spank, they usually feel out of control. Nothing they are doing is working and they are furious. Spanking allows them to exert power over their kids and feel more in control.
A child’s self-worth is usually negatively affected when they are hit. Who could feel good about themselves after a spanking? If you were paddled as a child, stop for a minute and try to remember how you felt about yourself after the fact.
Aggression begets aggression. Expect that if we hit our kids, they are likely to hit when they feel angry too. Is this the lesson we want to teach them?
The parent-child relationship is hurt when we hit our kids. This is the most detrimental repercussion from spanking. Keep in mind that this is the most important relationship in their life and how conflictual it is for them to feel close and loving to someone that is hurting them. Hitting devalues this precious relationship. When kids experience a disconnect from their parents, they are resentful, fearful and distrustful and much less likely to be cooperative and do the right thing.
When we spank, we miss an opportunity to teach our kids how we expect them to behave. They’re in trouble for something, we smack them, yell at them and send them to their room and it’s over. The next time, instead of deciding to spank when they are misbehaving, stop yourself and ask how you can use the misbehavior as a teaching opportunity.
Warning. This does require more patience on your part.
Spanking does not work and the research is clear. Some of the long-term effects of regular spanking can lead to depression and anxiety. If you’re interested in the research, Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D. at UT, and Catherine Taylor, Ph.D. at Tulane, cite some of the latest findings in their research.
Honestly, there are two things all spankers say to me.
- They don’t want to do it and never thought they would
- They don’t feel good about themselves after they do it
No matter how you might try to justify it, spanking is not the answer. The opposite of that is loving guidance reinforced by a strong parent-child relationship. Carefully reconsider if you are a spanker.
There’s Always Hope,
Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more!