Disciplining your child is a very difficult task, one that is full of dilemmas, the biggest of which is the question of whether to spank or not.
If you were to look back into your childhood, I am sure that like me, you too would remember having experienced spanking at the hands of your parents. No one considered it wrong back then; in fact, it was highlighted as the best form of discipline.
Most Asian countries have for years practiced spanking as the best method of instilling discipline and it is still practiced regularly in some places. However, today with the changing times, spanking is being viewed by many as the wrong way to instill discipline in a child. Of course, there are still some who call it the best mode of disciplining but one cannot ignore the change in attitude. The reasons that have caused this attitude change are remarkable and what is more interesting is the actual view expressed by many people on this matter.
The first question parents should ask themselves while spanking a child is: what is the lesson that the child needs to learn? This is very important as in most cases, parents have realized that children often do not associate a spanking with their bad conduct. In fact, in most cases, spanking has brought in a feeling of being wronged by the parent and not being understood. How many times have you heard the words, “She does not understand me” from your child? Or better still, how many times have you said it to your parents after receiving a spanking from them? Almost always, children tend to remember the spanking and not the deed that provoked it. That’s why experts feel that this is not the best way to discipline a child.
Proponents of the spanking theory feel that when it comes to disciplining a toddler, spanking is the most effective tool, largely because toddlers cannot understand reasoning and the only way to stop them from any dangerous activity is to spank them and pull them away. While this may be true and effective in some cases, it is important to understand that it is not really effective in the long run.
I am a mother of a toddler who insists on touching things that are hot and who does not understand the repercussions of doing so. If I were to follow the advice of the proponents of the spanking theory and spank her, I am not sure whether she would associate it with the action. In fact, toddlers are at an age when they love to repeat things to get attention and spanking will only make them feel that they are getting their way.
Secondly, spanking is viewed by children as a punishment for their act and hence does not really discipline the child. Most experts claim that bad behavior evokes a feeling of guilt in the child, which is diminished in importance by spanking as children feel that they have paid the price for their behavior and can now start afresh.
Thirdly, experts feel that spanking is a way by which parents get rid of their anger and frustration. When angry, the need to hit out at the other person is primal and hence, we tend to spank our children for bad behavior, without realizing that this could actually harm the parent-child relationship and also affect the overall development of the child. Moreover, according to various experts, children love to emulate their parents and often end up spanking others who are younger than them. Sounds familiar? How many times have we witnessed siblings fighting amongst themselves and the older one spanking the younger, only because he or she is older and is always right? Sounds alarming, right? Well, it is and this is what most parents do not realize.
In addition, spanking as a form of childhood discipline is also linked to depression, alcohol abuse, anger control issues, and domestic violence later in adulthood, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It is important to understand that children understand the words of love more than spanking. While you might feel better after spanking a child for bad behavior, discipline can be more easily and effectively instilled with warm and loving words.