Thursday, April 15, 2010


I am going out on a limb here and bucking all the groups I support and am a part of. I think spanking gets bad press when it is not about spanking, but how and why you spank. An early childhood agency on Facebook posted an article about spanking causing aggression. There was no criteria for different ways people approach spanking, just consideration given to research where a history of abuse and drugs had been present.Here is how I believe spanking should be done:

1. Never spontaneously or in anger!!!!!!!!! The "time out" or "bad chair" as my daughter called it, has a purpose of allowing everyone to cool down and think about the best way to handle an offense. Most mothers would admit that it occasionally is for the child's protection to be removed from the overly frustrated parent at that point in time. "Time out", removal of privileges or favorite toys (know what is valued by your child to be effective), or rewards (individual time with parent is more valuable than "stuff") for behavior being improved, is often enough--which segues to number 2

2. Spanking is a last resort and never a surprise. If the child has repeated the same negative behaviors and other methods are not working--then he is notified ahead of time that the next time will result in a spanking. Say what you mean and mean what you say! Do not threaten spanking unless you are calm when making the decision that it is to that point and you will follow through if it happens again.

3. If spanking is going to be effective--it must cause reasonable discomfort to the child. Some suggest using a paddle or an extension so the child does not associate your hand with this discomfort. I disagree--when done correctly (described next), this is an act of love and you can better control the discomfort being applied when you are feeling it too.

4. Discussion about why, spanking, love and re-explanation of why this had to happen. These steps are important. the child needs to understand that since he was told this would happen, he chose to be spanked. Ask questions appropriate to their understanding to make sure they understand what they are being spanked for. Administer the spanking and then HUG (YES I SAID HUG) and talk again. I added that my job is to help them learn how to act and that God gives me that job. I am responsible to God, and this is hard for me, but I do this because I love them.

5. When done effectively, it is rarely needed because they know you will. A minister once suggested that spanking should not be done before the age of 1 and probably would rarely be necessary when the process was well understood and probably almost never necessary past first grade.

6. Choose your battles. As children get older, you need to constantly re-evaluate changes that need to be made in their rules. Young children gradually get to a point where you do not have to say no about so many things that formerly would have been a danger to them or the objects. (To lessen the constant need for "no", put some things higher or away for a while) As they get older, you need to gradually give them chances to learn from choices and become more responsible. Trial and error and learning from natural consequences can be some of the best teachers. Is fighting constantly over a clean room good for any relatiuonship? Can the door just be closed so your differing standards can not stress your relationship? A clean room is not worth straining a relationship that will later have much more important issues ot deal with. Constant conflict over little unimportant things deafens the child to your concerns about something serious later.

Young children have less ability to reason but need to learn acceptable behavior. Different personalities require different types, level, and amounts of discipline or guidance. Get to know your child's interests and abilities and respect those. Spend time playing with them and showing them you love them. Prepare them for situations by explaining expectations. Be comfortable with decisions you have made about how to guide them, but also be comfortable with times you feel insecure and need to re-evaluate what is appropriate for them now. As they get older, respect their opinions, listen to their side of situations, and make careful decisions that lessen the need for arguments. Once a decision is carefully made, it should not be an arguable point.

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