Is Spanking Okay?...

Meli1234

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Jan 11, 2015
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My close friend is a single mother with kids ages 3 and 5. She works full time as a nurse and has been feeling overwhelmed with work and her kids recently. I offered to come over to give some moral support, knowing that the kids tend to be overly aggressive and I don't have any kids of my own. Anyways, while I was there, the youngest son was continuously hitting his older sister despite my friend telling him to stop. After several warnings, she pulls him into the bathroom. Then I heard a few loud slapping sounds along with the her son wailing. What should I do? Is this okay!?
 

Wickett

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Aug 1, 2014
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I bet he stopped hitting his sister, didn't he?

If she was overly rough, that is not okay, but spanking a child's bottom is not going to leave them forever scarred or even the slightest bit injured. You also need to realize that most of the crying from spanking is not the little physical discomfort, that's very little of it. The kid was mostly crying because he wasn't getting his way. Kids plea to get their way.
 

Anna61

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Oct 19, 2014
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Is spanking OK? To some parents it is but it is not the most effective way to teach a child not to hit his sister. After all, to a young child there is no difference between spanking and hitting. It is more effective for a parent to act like a role model and remove a child or remove a favorite toy when a child acts inappropriately.

Today most dog trainers know not to hit a dog. It is not the most effective way to train a dog. Most teachers can manage a room full of five year old without even raising their voices. Spousal abuse and employee abuse are no longer tolerated. Neither is hitting a younger sibling (it is called sibling abuse or sibling bullying). A parent who feel that the best way to discipline a child is to spank miss out on the opportunity to teach a child self regulatory skills and problem solving skills. He or she also underestimates parental influence and power.

It is time that parents find different ways to teach a child how to behave. There are plenty of sources out there that will show us how. The demands of a parent are different in today's world. As parents we want to teach our kids how to behave but also how to problem solve and how to use critical thinking skills in the best way possible. Teaching our children these skills take a different set of parental tools. Once you find these tools however, you will not go back. Saying you need to spank a child to make him behave is to short change yourself as a parent.

I have cared for children (and raised my own three kids) for more than thirty years and I can usually tell what kind of disciplinary tools are used in a child's home. In my opinion, children who are spanked are not better behaved. Instead they seem to have a difficult time listening. Words are not the highest valued currency in their homes and can therefore be ignored. Once you as a parent make your words the going currency, once you reward positive behaviors and deal with negative behavior appropriately, you will see a change in your child and in your relationship that will benefit both you and your child. It is worth it to both of you not to spank. Once we require a different behavior in ourselves as parents we will get a different behaving child. It is a win-win.
 

MamaLama

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Dec 22, 2014
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Spanking is most definitely not OK, especially in this instance! She's just demonstrating that the biggest, strongest hitter wins. "Might makes right." Maybe you can refer her to my favorite parenting website, TheSandboxKids.com. They recently published a 3-part series on managing and preventing aggression and tantrums in young children. There are some really good tips there. The link to the first part is http://thesandboxkids.com/aggression-and-tantrums-in-young-children-part-i/[/url] You were right to be concerned.
 

akmom

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I think Anna61 said it best. Is it okay to spank? Well yes, it's legal and does seem to work sometimes. But it's definitely not the best choice. It's kind of a lazy way of dealing with things.

It sounds like your friend doesn't have a good parenting system going on, honestly. If the children were getting enough attention and guidance, they wouldn't be hitting each other. (Sibling rivalry is NOT inevitable.) I guess spanking is better than no discipline at all, so if she only has a limited time to attend to discipline, maybe it actually is what she has to do. I don't know. It's hard to offer constructive criticism to a person who is in a pinch in terms of being single and working a demanding job.

My husband believes in spanking as a legitimate tool in the discipline arsenal, and I did too initially, since that's how I was raised. But I quickly became uncomfortable with it, and found that I was only using it when I had dropped the ball myself in terms of keeping a routine and making sure the kids' emotional needs were otherwise met. So I don't use it at all now. I still use timeouts on the youngest, but otherwise all the discipline I've needed was discussion, natural consequences and boundaries.

It's true, you can tell what kind of discipline is used at home. Spanked kids aren't actually better behaved in the classroom, in my opinion, but they do respond to warnings about going to the principal or having their parents called (anything that ultimately results in their parents' involvement). Kids with no discipline are tricky. They don't care about anything! (This is only my experience as a parent and classroom volunteer, not an educator or anyone with training in child development.)
 

Orlando Marquez

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Jul 5, 2014
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Spanking is ok, within limits. Leaving bruises or broken skin is definately not. Not all children will respond to a spoken language, nor a certain tone of voice so the alternative to getting them to understand they must follow rules or a parents instruction is a spanking. There is always a language a child will understand.

 

akmom

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May 22, 2012
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Pain is a language most people understand. We learn a lot from pain, such as wearing shoes when we walk on gravel, keeping our fingers out of the way when we chop vegetables, and using hot pads to retrieve food from the oven. I'm not saying pain doesn't have its purpose. It motivates us to avoid a lot of injuries, and probably improves our health and life spans. But I think when we use pain to teach everything - even lessons that are not intrinsically painful - then we undermine the message.

There has to be some reasons besides pain that we behave certain ways. If you're using pain as the motivation, then you aren't using the real reason. I would argue that if a child is not responding to spoken language, then you need to adjust the message to something that they will understand and appreciate. Unless you are suggesting that the child is totally incapable of understanding his actions on any level. In that case, I would argue that redirection is best. Have him avoid that situation until he is old enough to understand how to behave.

Avoiding pain is a dumb reason to give a child for acting a certain way. Eventually you won't be able to administer pain, and then what? Either he doesn't care to behave any more, or he's ready to consider why it's important (in which case, what was the point in teaching the false consequence of pain in the first place?). You also run the risk of teaching them that violence is how you control other people's behavior. It may not seem like much, but the truth is, they learn how to relate to others by emulating the adults in their life, and if you gyp them out of examples by conducting all your negotiations via spanking, you're not leaving them with a whole lot of strategies to emulate. Perhaps they'll resort to violence, or perhaps they just won't be very effective communicators/negotiators at all. By taking the time to figure out how to teach them a lesson respectfully, you teach them to give others the same courtesy.

While I agree that spanking is much better than beating, I disagree that it's different punishment altogether. Either way, you're using pain to teach. You're skipping dialogue and thought. Perhaps that's okay when you're trying to teach a lesson about pain and don't want to inflict the real thing (such as getting hit by a car when darting out into traffic). But spanking as a disciplinary measure for behavior is, I think, a poor choice. It teaches nothing about why. And personally I think that teaches them not to get caught more than anything.
 
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cybele

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akmom said:
While I agree that spanking is much better than beating, I disagree that it's different punishment altogether. Either way, you're using pain to teach. You're skipping dialogue and thought.
Not to mention, and it's my little pet peeve about the spanking discussion, the difference between a spank/smack (sorry, we use the word smack here, so it's weird for me to type spank) and a beating depends on individual perception.

When I was in school we were taught by Nuns who used to hit us with the first object that they could grab when we misbehaved, very normal for Catholic schools in the 70's, but none the less, something that would not be tolerated today.

Personally, I never considered being hit on the back of the legs with metre ruler, or being hit on the head with a bible, or being hit over the knuckles with a regular sized ruler, or having an orange thrown at me a smack, to me that's more along the beating line. However, I doubt any of those Nuns thought it was a beating, to them it was a smack, just a smack with an object.

(I would like it on the record that I didn't do anything in the orange situation, the Nun in question was aiming at my friend who sat behind me, it just hit me instead, no I did not get an apology and in a true 70's parenting move, my mother's reaction was "You probably were going to do something anyway".)
 

mom2many

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I see nothing wrong with occasional swat to the behind, not a beating or whoppin', just a clear swat to the covered bum.

Cybele I was paddles a few times in school. I laugh now cause they were for pretty stupid reasons, but it's not something I would want a school doing to my children.
 

akmom

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May 22, 2012
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in a true 70's parenting move, my mother's reaction was "You probably were going to do something anyway".)
That must be a 70s thing, because my parents talked about the same logic being applied to them. So what if a kid did or would do wrong? An accidental punishment does nothing to teach consequences. Perhaps they tried to use the concept of karma to achieve this??

Sounds more like a cold war between parents and children!
 

akmom

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You know, Cybele, I think that might be relevant. If parents really did believe in a karma-like concept - which is not outrageous, based on the simplistic observation that good people do tend to thrive, while shady people don't get far - then they may very well have believed that these things would work themselves out in the end.

Of course, I think if you looked at individual situations more closely, the vague concept of karma could be better explained by logical social dynamics. Well-intentioned people build bridges and reputations and long-term successes that quick schemes (however well-planned) cannot match. There's just more to it than karma. So I think the next generation challenged that assumption and developed different parenting philosophies, where punishing children for possible or likely future transgressions was considered ludicrous.

Similarly, I think there were generations that saw the short-term effects of spanking and concluded that it was some magical tool for discipline. Because in a lot of ways, it appears to work. But if you look at how it actually plays out - and many, many sociologists have - then you see a dynamic that is not quite what you were going for.

I have to say this carefully, because there are exceptions (especially in older generations, where corporal punishment was the conventional wisdom), but it appears to me that the people who still use spanking are lesser educated and have less genuine kids. They are still adamant about how important and effective it is, but I think it comes from a preconception about how to raise kids than a thoughtful, open-minded consideration of the evidence. Their examples and logic are often simplistic. And of course, you can't delve that deeply into discussions, because ultimately people revert back to examples of themselves and their kids. And of course you can't analyze personal anecdotes without actually personally criticizing people or their children!
 

akmom

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I am reminded of the first time I read about a teaching philosophy where praise was avoided. It discussed "praise junkies" versus intrinsic motivation, and had a lot of evidence behind it. I hated it initially. I was so annoyed and offended by it, having thrived off praise as a kid, and having parents and teachers who relied heavily on praise as a motivator. And considering myself academically successful, based on popular measures like grades, honors, and scholarships, I thought of myself as the evidence that praise is a fine component of education.

But that article ate at me for a long time, as I thought about it and noticed many aspects of my personality and goals did seem to align with how "praise junkies" were described as functioning. I mean, it is by no means "dysfunctional." But I definitely started to see how praise might inhibit full potential. I actually called up a friend of mine in education, who was familiar with the article, and she said, "Yeah, it really makes you rethink how you were motivated, doesn't it?"

I think maybe it's hard to rethink spanking for the same reasons. It's hard to face that what "worked" for you might actually not have produced the best "you" that there could have been.
 

Anna61

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Great point akmom!!!! When praise becomes the only fuel that drives us we begin to view ourselves successful only if others deem us successful. We stop developing our own inner scale of right and wrong. In my 40s I woke up and realized that I was still seeking approval from others while I was quick at judging myself and putting myself down. I have worked very hard at teaching my kids to seek approval from within. So, instead of constantly telling them that they are doing a good job, I ask them to self evaluate. Instead of telling them that each thing they produce is fantastic, I ask them to tell me what they like about their drawings for instance. I save the I love yous and the I am proud of yous for moments when they might not expect it or for moments when they had a rough day and feel like they messed up. That way they do not have to feel like they have to produce something to be worthy. And they leave home believing in themselves and knowing their strengths and weaknesses. They also know that love does not have to be earned. They are loved because of who they are, not for what they produce.
 

mom2many

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Jul 3, 2008
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Less genuine kids? What do you mean by that?

It's never been a secret on this site or the 1,000 plus debates that I have used spanking on occasion. I am far from uneducated, and probably have some of the most genuine and honest kids around.

When it comes to this topic people seem to think that if one spanks, they are a monster, and when one uses another method they have raised spoiled and entitled brats, and let's face it the kids of today are not helping with that picture.

As a mom of 8 kids, each with very different personalities, I can tell you that punishments and consequences were often different because no two children (well maybe two) can be parented the same. Just because one household was able to find a way that didn't involve any form of spanking, doesn't mean that it is the right course of action for another.

Anyone remember that one guy...parent something, he had a degree and was working towards his PhD? Anyhoo, he was very much against spanking, but did admit that the research showed that spanking when done in moderation (can't remember what the number was exactly since it's been a while) had no harmful effect that could be remotely related to their occasional spanking. I wished I still had my old computer it had all of the info on it.

Look, I am not saying parents who spank on a daily bases are right in their approach. I do believe that other methods should be done first, and any object used takes it from spanking to abuse, but the whole "spankers are uneducated", get's old. Lot's of very educated people still spank, and lots of uneducated people have never spanked.
 

cybele

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I always wondered about parentastic, before he disappeared he mentioned something about becoming a stepfather soon, and I know one of the major criticisms of some of his advice on here was that it really wasn't applicable to day to day life, the time he argued that you shouldn't make a child pick up their toys and that they should do it in their own time or something like that one comes to mind.
I always wondered if he changed his tune on some things having actually lived it.
 

mom2many

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Jul 3, 2008
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That's his name!

Yeah, he had some out there views, but all supported by 'science' and I used quotations cause as parents we know that it's not that simple and have a more hands on approach.

He'd messaged me a while, long enough for me to forget his name, back and was getting ready for his.....paper or whatever for his degree and was super busy with all of that, and then he was gone.