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Is Spanking Ever OK? What's Your Vote?

“Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child.”

Can you believe that this used to be a popular saying about parenting? It seems shocking, doesn’t it!? I suppose there may even be a few people who still believe it… but I’m definitely not one of them!

Of course, I’m not in favor of spoiling our kids, either,  which happens all the time. Usually, it looks like giving children too much “stuff” — and not enough of our actual time and attention.

Or sometimes, spoiling means “wishy-washy” parenting. “You’d better clean up your room… or else!” (With absolutely no consequences ever actually handed out.

Or sometimes, it’s just a lack of boundaries, which gives a child do whatever she pleases, whenever she pleases.

But using spanking as a form of discipline is a bad idea. And here are my top 5 reasons why:

  1. First of all,if we use spanking to discipline our kids, we’ve “opened the door” on physical discipline. And that means that the consequences of losing our temper are suddenly pretty serious. (If you’re REALLY mad, are you sure you’ll know where the line between a “spanking” and a “beating” is?)
  2. Children tend to see things in black and white. So when you spank or hit them, the message they get is that “it’s ok to hit someone to solve a problem.”
  3. It’s confusing for your child. Ever seen a parent tell their child “Don’t hit” — as they give him a swat for hitting someone on the playground. What? That just makes zero sense.
  4. It can leave one parent as the bad cop and one as the good cop. Especially if you use the phrase, “Wait till your father gets home.”
  5. Fear is never a good or long-term way to get children to listen, respond, and do what is asked of them. Respect should be the goal, not fear.

So how do children learn to respect their parents.. without fearing them?

  • First, get really clear with your expectations. What is it exactly that you want your child to do? It could be really confusing if you tell a child who’s acting up in a restaurant to behave herself. What exactly does “behave yourself” mean? Be clear. “I want you to sit down in your chair,” or “I want you to say please and thank you when the waiter comes to the table.”
  • There still needs to be a consequence! You aren’t going to give a spanking for biting others, but you still need to do something that sets a clear consequence. Doing nothing is not an option.
  • Some suggestions for alternative, effective consequences could be leaving the playground after one warning, giving an age-appropriate time-out, or removing the child from the environment.

My best advice for parents who are struggling with their children’s behavior is to actually sit down and write out a list of unwanted behaviors AND the consequences. Us the “if-then” formula.

For example, you might write:

IF Ethan yells at the supper table THEN he will get a warning.

If Ethan yells a second time at the table THEN he will be sent for a 5 minute time-out.

IF Ethan yells a third time at the table THEN he will not get watch TV for 3 days.

… and so on.

Once you’ve got your list written out, sit down with your child and go over the list. That way, you’ll BOTH be clear on what is expected of you.

But remember — if you’ve told your child the consequences, you MUST follow through! (If Ethan yells at the table, you’d better dole out the consequences you warned him about!)

That’s it for today, but if you’re looking for more ways to deal with problem behaviors (like fighting with siblings, not listening, defiance, rudeness, etc.) make sure to check out Kids: The Manual.

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Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
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My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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