In an ideal world, spanking would never be necessary. However, on rare occasions it may be necessary to smack your child’s bottom. I do not intend to either promote or discourage spanking, but rather to give parents correct instruction on using non-abusive spanking in discipline. Spanking is a much-debated topic. Most child psychologists do not recommend spanking as a discipline method for children. However, other psychologists and many parents will tell you that a spanking given with fairness, love and care is an effective discipline technique. A child’s parent’s best make the decision as to the usefulness of spanking. It is gravely unfortunate that, there are many children who are abused under the guise of spanking, and this essay is an attempt to inform parents in a way that would prevent abuse.
Never spank any place other than the child’s clothed bottom and only with your open hand. Spanking should generally be carried out in private. The aim of the punishment is to teach the child that they have done wrong, not to humiliate him/her. Many people believe that while privacy is important, if in a public place, you should not hesitate to take your child to an area where diners or shoppers will not be bothered and carry out the promised discipline. Privacy is secondary to setting clear rules and your child’s understanding that discipline will be sure (and swift). Further, if you are disciplining in loving and fair manner, you should not be concerned about onlookers and what they might think. This is your child, your responsibility and a swat on the bottom, not a public debate. Give your children clear boundaries. Knowing exactly what they can and cannot do is the foundation of happy and successful children that are honest and respectful of their parents, other adults and themselves. Learn which behaviors deserve a spanking. This really can be boiled down to one thing, open disobedience. You must be fair with children. Spilling things, toddler tantrums, nose-picking, bed-wetting, arguing, even lying and stealing are normal childhood behaviors that, while they may require action on the part of the parent to help a child mature, they are not spanking offenses.
You must let toddlers, children, teens and young adults make mistakes and have normal childhood behavior that is age appropriate without making them miserable about it. Any spanking should be meant to get their attention and establish your authority. Never spank them hard enough that they are going to feel it later. Always spank the child only on the child’s clothed bottom and only with your open hand. Cool off first. If you are angry, do not attempt to give your child a spanking. Tell them you need to think about this for a while and let yourself cool off and then re-evaluate the situation. Do not hit your child with implements or objects. Using belts, switches, spoons, paddles or worse on your child will never build the kind of respect and love that a properly administered spanking will. Only use your open hand on the child’s clothed bottom. Know when to enforce discipline with spanking. Once children are old enough to understand “no,” they are old enough for a spanking. This could occur as early as approximately 18 months, but varies by child. Be mindful that the force and amount of spanks should be reduced (i.e. a quick pat on the bottom) for very small children but the framework should be similar. If properly used, once a child has reached the age of 6 or 7, spanking will hopefully never be necessary again. On the other hand, if you have never spanked and a child is already 9 or 10, it is probably too late to begin once the patterns of parenting have been so firmly established.
Do not spank too frequently. Again, spanking should be reserved only due to open disobedience, and not used whenever one feels annoyed. If you do it all the time, it will lose any effectiveness that it might have and is just plain mean. Give them one warning. If you think that you were not clear the first time, you might have to clarify, but do not give warning after warning and expect any child to be compliant. They will always know that they can push and push and have their way once you give up. The child must clearly understand that there will be one warning and that’s it. If you do this, they will obey after one warning, if you give them ten warnings, they will probably never take you seriously. But please, you must take great care when disciplining your child, be fair, be clear and make sure that you understand what is going on; you should not turn back once you have declared “you’ve just earned yourself a spanking”.
Earn the respect of your child by being fair; you must also convince your children that if they are openly disobedient, the discipline will be quick and certain. In this way, they will learn the clear boundaries and seek to not overstep them to earn your trust. Do the following once you have decided that you must spank your child. Tell them that they are going to be spanked. Take them to a neutral area. If in the home, it should be out of sight of the other children. If at a restaurant or store, please wait until you get home. Never spank in a public place. You never want to embarrass a child in front of siblings or other people any more than necessary for the moment. Once in the proper location, carefully explain why they are getting a spanking and precisely the behavior that got them in this inevitable situation. Once the decision is made, do not consider turning back unless you become genuinely convinced that you have misjudged the situation. Explain what is going to happen: [i.e. at age 3] “You are going to get four swats, and then we are going to talk about it for a minute, then it will be over.” If possible have the child lay across your lap with their bottom up. Deliver each swat with an open hand only on their clothed bottom and only hard enough that they feel mild discomfort. Sit them up at eye level, repeat the explanation, and have them agree that they will not repeat the behavior again. Ask them to apologize. Assure them that this is the end of the punishment (however, certain offenses or lack of remorse may require a time of quiet thought) and that you are not going to be angry with them about it. Tell them that you love them.
When Does Discipline become Abuse? Vs. Discipline by Spanking does not constitute abuse? Discipline is one of the defining elements of parenting; whether used sparingly or liberally, it’s fundamental to the parent-child dynamic. Most Americans agreed with the necessity of sometimes spanking children, but proportions disagreeing increased 15 percentage point (94% overall) between 1986 (16%) and 2010 (31%). Growing proportions disagreed with spanking in each consecutive decade for all significant generational cohorts, with the greatest increase against spanking for Silent Generation (Menard 18).Through discipline, children are taught to become responsible, honest, kind, sharing people. By following their parents’ guidance, teachings and rules, they ideally grow up to be well-behaved and respectful individuals. If you, however, punish your child instead of disciplining them, the end result will not be the same. Punishment is an act of anger and impulse. It happens when a parent takes things personally; the punishment is, in fact, retaliation for the child’s poor choice.
In contrast, discipline is centered on helping the child, with the goal of correcting their choices and actions. A parent who disciplines is trying to teach their child right from wrong, helping them learn life skills. Ultimately, punishment hurts a child whereas discipline helps a child. The urge to punish comes from within when you feel hurt by a child’s behavior — you’re looking to strike back and inflict this same pain, often overreacting to the situation. For example, in the heat of the moment, Mom or Dad might lash out — even raising a hand to a child instead of taking a deep breath and assessing the situation objectively. The challenge parent’s face is to detach themselves from the situation and control their anger and impulses before responding or reacting to the child. By controlling this anger and emotion, a parent can stop themselves from making the situation worse. And this is important, as punishment — which can lead to abuse — is usually both unreasonable and much more physical than discipline. Here’s why it’s so important to resist the urge to react in anger.
Most abusive parents never plan on hurting their children, but they impulsively react and strike out of anger, punishing them with physical revenge instead of teaching them right from wrong. Once trapped in this mindset of punishment, it is difficult for parents to think rationally or even compassionately about their child’s actions. And in an instant, on impulse, lives can change dramatically. A loving parent can be convicted of child abuse and land themselves in prison simply because they impulsively did something violent to their child. If you choose to listen to your impulses, you lose your self-control and ability to think clearly. For example, a parent grabs their child by the hand. The parent is upset and twists the tiny arm. Being a “good parent” they take their child to the hospital to have it looked at. They find a greenstick fracture. The x-ray clearly shows how the arm bone was twisted. This is a red flag for hospital employees who know this is a symptom of child abuse. In a whirlwind, Child Protective Services is called in, the children may be removed from the home, the guilty parent can be arrested and even go to jail. One of the biggest problems with an adult punishing a child is that the two are not equals.
When calm and rational, no one would argue that children are the same as adults. They are not the same size, nor strength; they have less knowledge and fewer life experiences. Furthermore, when parents punish their child out of anger, they teach kids that it’s okay to treat those who are weaker, smaller, and younger with less respect. The parent is modeling a bullying type of behavior which is obviously not a positive way to interact with others. My father was verbally and physically abusive so I understand on a personal level the negative impact impulsive, erratic behavior can have on a child. To justify their actions parents may say, “This is what happened to me when I was growing up.” While that might explain why you’re more likely to parent this way, it doesn’t excuse the behavior. So, instead of coming home and taking out your frustrations on your children, resist the urge to overreact and lash out at them.
Replacing punishment with discipline, In order to function in our society, adults must have a certain amount of self-control, impulse-control and anger management. I’m suggesting these skills be developed in our homes. Again, it’s a matter of respecting our kids as people. Consider the dozens of interactions you have with others on a daily basis. Surely at one point or another someone has said something that you disagreed with or they’ve done something that annoyed you. Did you react by lashing out or hitting the other person? Is there another situation where we, as adults, would act so recklessly even if we were upset? In place of punishment, let’s look at some effective discipline techniques. When establishing discipline in your household, communicating your expectations and guidelines with your children is the first step. Initially, help your kids understand why these rules and expectations are important to you. Then, explain to them what will happen if these expectations are not met — what the consequence will be. By explaining to your kids the reasoning behind the consequences, you’ll be helping them learn from their poor choices. It’s important that a child understands their parents and believes there is logic to their actions. Otherwise, not only is it impossible for the child to meet these goals, but if they break the rules, they have no way of predicting what the reaction will be. However, if everyone is upfront about what will happen, then your child will be more accepting of the consequences and parents are less likely to overreact.
Brodie, Kay L., and Barbara Hoffert. “The Case Against Spanking: How To Discipline Your Child Without Hitting/Lots Of Love And A Spanking!: A Common Sense Discipline Plan For Children From Birth To Age Twelve–That Works.” Library Journal 122.9 (1997): 95. Literary Reference Center. Web. 26 Sept. 2014.
Menard, Lauren A. “Should Discipline Hurt? Shifting American Spanking Beliefs And Implications For School Corporal Punishment Policies.” Online Submission (2012): ERIC. Web. 26 Sept. 2014.
Ramsburg, Dawn, and Urbana, IL. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. The Debate Over Spanking. ERIC Digest. n.p.: 1997. ERIC. Web. 26 Sept.2014.