Spanking Your Kid, Is It Okay?

Creating boundaries is an essential part of raising kids and instills a fundamental understanding of right and wrong. Sometimes when kids have brought you to your wit’s ends, spanking feels like the only way to get them to knock off their naughty behavior. We understand the urge, but there are other, less harmful ways to get children to listen. One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is figuring out how to effectively teach a child that something she’s done is not gonna fly.

For parents with strong-willed children, staying at home can feel like a power struggle. Spanking becomes a tool to rapidly enforce rules and good behavior.

Frequent spanking raises the risk of abusing one’s own children or spouse as an adult. When a frequently-spanked youngster is at danger of emotional difficulties, parents must consider if “It worked for me!” is a good reason to use this method now.

So, is it okay to spank a misbehaving child, every once in a while?

Spanking does not result in a more obedient child

There’s one positive outcome of spank and that’s that the child immediately complies with what you’re asking because she’s afraid. Yes, after a good spanking your child will probably shut her mouth and do everything you instruct her to do in that moment and maybe even weeks after you physically disciplined her. Obedience erodes over time and is not at all effective as a long-term form of discipline.

Children who are hit, are more likely to hit others

No question about it – children who are hit are more likely to hit other children, more likely to hit their parents, their siblings. And when they grow up, they’re more likely to hit their partners.

Spanking doesn’t teach kids self-control

It only teaches them that a certain behavior will result in violence. When a child they love and respect hits them, it can be confusing and terrifying. Spank is an emotional event, and a child’s “fear and anguish” might obscure any message you’re attempting to impart. So what to do instead… Punishment is an effective way to correct bad behavior. Instead, parents should set non-negotiable boundaries for their children through ‘Empathic Restrictions’.

A approach that teaches youngsters to cooperate and gives them a positive relationship with their parents has been around for a while. We’ve utilized one of Dr. Markham’s examples to show how to establish Empathic Limits.

When trying to get a strong-willed child off the swing because it’s time to go home and eat dinner, she may fight and scream and make it incredibly difficult for you to get her out of the playground. In this instance, you as a parent, might match your child’s misbehavior with yelling or even spanking for not listening. Dr. Markham asks parents to “STOP, DROP, AND BREATHE,” i.e. calm down, take a few breaths, and then state their non-negotiable limit again.

Why parents spank children

University of Toledo Psychiatry Professor Michelle Knox noticed an irony in American attitudes regarding corporal punishment “In the US, hitting inmates, criminals, or adults is illegal. Only children, the most vulnerable people of our society, can still be smacked legally.”

Experts noting that “…spanking is often the first step in the cycle of child abuse.” What begins as a parent’s desire to discipline a child often ends in rage and intensifying blows. It isn’t that the parent is “evil” by nature or is a “child abuser.” Often, the parent is pushed to breaking point and unaware of alternative techniques of discipline, such as “time-outs,” privilege elimination, and positive reinforcement of the child’s proper behavior.

Parents vs. Researchers

But wait: aren’t there exceptions to these general findings? Aren’t their times when a light rap on the backside can do a misbehaving child some good – or at least, not cause any significant harm?

The effects of spanking may depend on the “meaning” children ascribe to it. Spanking viewed by the child as parental aggressiveness (as opposed to nonaggressive limit setting) may be linked to eventual aggressive behavior. Some parents argue that misbehaving leads to spanking, not the opposite.

Nevertheless, there is a strong consensus in the mental health community that any form of corporal punishment can cause harm. Experts in 2020 review that: “Even minor forms of corporal punishment, such as spanking, increase the risk for increased child aggressive behavior.”

Furthermore, clinical studies have shown that reducing parents’ use of corporal punishment can reduce children’s subsequent aggression. Parents who believe they have no alternative except to spank their misbehaving children do not need finger-wagging lectures from clinicians. They require expert support and education to reduce stress and increase alternative punishments.

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