I’m going to start this post by stating that I am NOT a fan of spanking. In fact, I hate spanking. I hated spanking my kids (each of them on two occasions). I don’t believe it is an effective disciplinary tool. It certainly never teaches a child new, better behaviors.
However, I feel compelled to support spanking as a tool because of how maligned it has become and how inaccurately it has recently been portrayed in the media. To read some of the current stories and studies out there, you would think that children who are spanked are at best all going to bully their peers or future spouse and at worst are at high risk for becoming axe murderers.
This is nonsense and I’m not tolerating it.
Spanking a child necessarily involves infliction of a painful stimulus—unless Mom and Dad are too wimpy to do it with sufficient force. Believe me, this is a problem with some parents; it feels somewhat strange to inform a parent that “you’re not spanking him hard enough.” If painful stimulus were enough to traumatize a child, then we have really wimpy, hypersensitive children who need to grow a set. In that case, get your kid away from bicycles, sandboxes, swimming pools, and anything remotely dangerous. Y’know, anything fun…
If the supposed problem with spanking is that the painful stimulus comes from the person who is supposed to help and love the child, then all doctors and nurses who give children a series of shots and other painful procedures should be thrown in jail, or at least reported to the Department of Child and Family Services. Ask any kid if he’d rather have a spanking or a shot; my money is on “Spanking, please!!!”
As I have said a thousand times, a child is not traumatized by the painful stimulus of a few swats on their butt. Kids are far more resilient than that.
What IS traumatizing is the parental rage and out of control behavior that sometimes accompanies spanking. That is what no study has examined and what no study would dare examine. But this is why those studies are worthless at best and harmful at worst, because many parents can use spanking quite effectively as it should be used: not as a primary discipline tool, but as a back-up, as a method to establish other, more effective methods (such as time out).
Let me use a little analogy. If police beat you with their baton or shot you every time you were pulled over for speeding, that would be overkill, right? That’s what spanking is for abusive, out-of-control parents. Those police officers should be stripped of their weapons; those parents should not spank. However, one of the reasons we pull over for a police officer and why most sane people don’t raise a ruckus when pulled over is BECAUSE the officer has a baton and a gun. A healthy level of fear teaches most people not to mess with police officers.
Spanking, used appropriately and sparingly, offers parents the ability to establish the boundaries in the parent-child relationship which allows the parent to use other methods of discipline quite effectively and 99% of the time.
Let’s not decide to eat raw steak just because some crazy chefs tend to burn their steaks. Rather, let’s learn how to cook them properly.
All this hostility…and guess what? I don’t want to spank my kids! Instead, it has me hungry…