As a young adult, I assumed spanking was a normal form of discipline for children. When I had a child of my own, I found it impossible to spank. What then, is a parent to do? Was I going to be a failure? Was my child going to grow up wild and undisciplined?
According to current research, following what was in my heart was the right thing to do for the well-being of my child. Evidence shows that physical forms of discipline like spanking have serious, long-term effects on children. These forms of punishment make it highly likely that a child will develop aggressive tendencies, antisocial characteristics, and mental health disorders. Despite this news, almost sixty percent of American parents still spank their children. Spanking children doesn’t get the results parents are hoping for. It introduces another unacceptable behavior, the use of force to get one’s way.
Parents who spank should consider that the world views such actions as violating the basic human rights of a child. In 2006 a UN Committee published a declaration that physical forms of punishment on children were violence that was legalized and should cease. Only two nations did not ratify the treaty on the rights of children, the United States and Somalia. Somalia and the United States really should catch up to the thirty other countries who have outlawed corporal punishment of children.
Take a tantrum for example. A tantrum is an expression of a child’s frustration. Rather than the parent have their own tantrum and spank the child, the parent should teach an appropriate way to express those negative feelings. For example, my granddaughter would scream and hit whenever she saw a dog. Rather than fuss at her, we told her it was okay to feel upset but it was not okay to upset others. We taught her to make a fist and stick her knuckle between her teeth and blow. We called it her stress whistle. And, it worked!
Other forms of discipline I have used that are advised by child psychologists are time outs and deprivation of privileges. I focus on teaching the value of the right choice and the consequences of a bad choice. I don’t just focus on immediate consequences. I remind children that they will grow up. An unpleasant consequence as a child could result in a much worse consequence as a adult. Conversations like this help to develop a strong bond of trust and honesty in relationships. I never teach my kids that it is wrong to feel a certain way, but that they must learn how to cope with negative feelings in a healthy way. I feel that is the key, seeing the future in our children and realize we are not training them for the here and now to make our lives easier as parents. We are training them to become adults who will need the proper emotional skills to live independently practicing self-control and capable of finding value in what is good and right.