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Spanking A Child: Should You Or Shouldn't You?

Spanking A Child Should You Or Shouldn't You

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Six-year-old Sammy and Ben are playing in the living room. They get into a fight, and Sammy hits his friend for taking his chocolate. Ben starts crying and Sammy’s mother immediately takes him to the next room, bends him over her knee, and spanks him saying, “You do NOT hit people. Do you understand?” There are more tears in the house as Sammy starts crying.

Sammy’s mom was hitting (or spanking) her child and telling him that it was bad. Isn’t it ironic? Spanking is the act of beating on a person’s buttocks with open hand. Some argue that spanking is not hitting as it is a harmless act of discipline while some do not see it that way.

So, should you spank children at all? Here, MomJunction tells you about spanking, the theory behind it, and how it might affect children in the long run.

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Is Spanking An Acceptable Form Of Discipline?

“Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Most parents believed that for a long time until they realized that that may not always be the right thing to do. But is it right to spank the child even if it is once in a while? Or should spanking be out of your parenting books altogether? The debate is ongoing with parents taking stand for and against spanking children as a disciplining technique.

Spanking has been outlawed in over 53 countries around the world and several states of the US. Around 54 countries including India have committed to ban any form of corporal punishment for children in all settings (1).

However, spanking is still a common practice.

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[Read: How To Discipline A Child]

Is Spanking Effective?

Spanking might lead to detrimental outcomes for the child (2). It may not help in changing a child’s aggressive behavior. Also, there are no studies to show that corporal punishments, including spanking, improve a child’s developmental health (3).

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), corporal punishment may remedy the problem immediately, but it does not have a long-term impact on the child’s behavior (4). If you overdo it, the child might assume that physical force, or even violence, is an acceptable method to get things done.

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[Read: Effects Of Verbal Abuse On Children]

Probable Consequences Of Frequent Spanking

Spanking can be a negative experience for a child and can make him or her feel inferior and guilty. Here are some consequences of frequent spanking.

  • Spanking is an example of aggressive behavior and could encourage the child to imitate the parent’s actions later in life. Spanking is linked to increased aggressive behavior in preschool and school-going children (5).
  • Spanking might send a wrong signal. When you spank, you are implying that the parent can beat the child because you are stronger and older than them.
  • Studies have proven that spanking may have negative impact on a child’s cognitive behavior and can also increase the risk of mental health problems in the long run (6).
  • When you spank a child, you are causing them pain and emotional trauma.
  • Considering that spanking is painful and embarrassing, the child would try and evade it. Children are not strong enough to stop the parents from hitting them, but they are smart enough to manipulate. Spanking increases the chances of your child lying to evade the punishment.
  • You may lose your influence on the child if you spank him too much. Kids who get used to getting spanked might learn to tolerate the pain and may not fear the punishment.
  • Spanking may give rise to defiance in the child. Spanking a child too much, knowing that it is embarrassing for them, can make them resent you for it. Over time, they might become rebellious and hate you for it.

What You May Do Instead Of Spanking

When you are angry and frustrated with the child’s behavior, remember that spanking the child will not help in correcting his behavior.

So, the next time you have the urge to spank your child for his unruly behavior, this is what you do.

1. Calm down

The first thing to do is calm yourself. Reacting to a child’s behavior will only make yours worse. So instead, stop yourself and calm down. Go to the other room and take a few deep breaths. Come back to the child and talk to them in a calm voice about what you want them to do.

[Read: Tips To Manage Out Of Control Kids]

2. Have some ‘me’ time

While parenting is a responsibility, you need to have some time off for yourself. It can help you relax and rejuvenate your mind. A relaxed mind is better at coming up with alternatives to spanking the kid for behavioral issues.

3. Be kind but firm

A kind word has more power than a hard beating. No, we are not asking you to go soft on the child when he does something unacceptable. Take a firm stand but explain in kind words that he cannot behave in a way that affects others negatively. When dealing with younger kids, you could use monosyllables like “no” or “bad” to teach them what is good and bad.

4. Give choices

Instead of spanking, give them a punishment that they would not want, such as cutting privileges and grounding them for a few days. Use a firm tone when you speak, so that they know you mean what you say.

5. Timeout

Sometimes, a child’s behavior can push you to the edge, especially when they are disrespectful and defiant. At such a time, give the kid some time out. You could say “I want you to take five minutes to sit quietly and think about what you just said to me. And when I come back, I expect you to treat me with respect.”

6. Logical consequences

Replace spanking with consequences that are relevant to the child’s behavior. This will help them make the connection between the punishment and their behavior. However, this works only with older kids who are able to reason.

Spanking may have been an acceptable form of discipline for ages. But that doesn’t mean we have to continue the practice. You may choose kinder and non-violent parenting techniques that work better in developing an emotionally stable child.

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[Read: Common Child Behavioral Problems]

What’s your opinion about spanking children? Share your views in our comments section.

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