Even though parents know spanking is not good for their kids, and they themselves don’t want to spank, parents still do it. Usually parents spank on the spur of the moment: they lose their temper and need to do something. They’re too mad to talk, so they end up spanking. Most of the time spanking has nothing to do with what kids do; it’s their parents’ state of mind that triggers it. For instance, mom might have had a bad day, and Henry only has to step over the line once before she spanks him; whereas on a good day he can get away with all kinds of misbehaviours before she finally spanks him. Other reasons parents spank:? their parents spanked them, they don’t know what else to do, or they genuinely think spanking will help their children. Typically these parents say they don’t want to spank their children, but they do it because they love their children.
In most cases spanking works. It rids parents of their pent-up anger, and stops children from doing whatever it was that was making their parents mad. However in the long run, spanking and other forms of discipline cause problems:
o Children learn that when their parents are mad, they hit, rather than try to work things out.
o Spanking becomes an easy way out for some kids. Because their parents spanked them, they no longer have to feel bad, because they’ve paid for their misdeeds. Children need to feel some guilt about their wrongdoings, otherwise they don’t develop a conscience and there’s nothing stopping them from doing it again.
o If parents rely on punishment too much, they eventually run out of controls. Punishments get bigger, and parents’ power gets smaller. You can’t ground your daughter for a year, but some parents do, because they don’t know what else to do. When you’re consequencing young children, ask yourself this question, “Will this work five or ten years from now?”
o Children resent parents and teachers for punishing them, and want to fight back, while others become frustrated, or anxious and afraid.
o Punishment doesn’t change the way children think over the long run; it only forces them to change their behavior temporarily. The first chance they get children go back to their old ways.
If you spank your children, and want to stop, there’s a way to do it:
o Look at yourself and your life and try to change what you don’t like. Often parents hit their children because they’re dissatisfied, frustrated, and unhappy with their own lives.
o Read books or take a course on child-rearing (title). You’ll be happy and relieved to know about the many alternatives to punishment, as well as meeting parents in the same boat as you.
o Be aware of your own feelings. If you know you’re on the ragged edge and about to explode, it’s not the right time to take your kids shopping. Do something relaxing, and get your children involved in a quiet-time activity.
o If your children misbehave, don’t react. Simply tell them you’re disappointed in them, and you have to think about what you’re going to do next. This buys you some time to calm down and think about your next move.