To spank or not to spank? This has been a point of contention for long. In fact, the age old question “to spank or not” sparks a strong debate among both parents and psychologists.
Studies show that almost all parents in the world have spanked their children sometime or the other. Spanking is an act of slapping, especially on the bottom of a child with an open hand, as a punishment for bad behaviour.
However, what parents need to understand is that there is a huge difference between punishing children and disciplining them. Punishment (such as spanking) concentrates on letting a child suffer for their wrong doings whereas discipline focuses on teaching children to make better choices.
People tend to have conflicts when dealing with spanking children. Some parents believe that spanking is a form of torture, while other parents opine that spanking helps disciplining their children. The pro spanking group offer enough evidence to justify their reason for spanking and vice versa and both groups believe very strongly about the same.
So let’s understand why parents spank their children.
Reasons why parents spank their children
- To discipline their children: In general people think that spanking will discipline their children and stop them from doing something wrong.
- Because their parents did so: A few parents think that they are being a good parent in following the tradition of spanking their children. They fail to perceive that traditions are so different from morality and they set up different standards. People, who are spanked when young, turn out to be spanking parents. It usually starts as a light form of discipline and turns into much more over time.
- Because of frustration: Sometimes children can get on their parents nerves and frustrate them to the core. During such times, it’s not uncommon for a parent to spank their kids out of sheer frustration.
Impact of spanking
It is very common to notice how people talk about their parents spanked them when they were young and somehow believed it turned out better for them. Simultaneously numerous others accounted as to how they were damaged physically and emotionally due to spanking.
Studies on spanking show that parents who are in the habit of spanking for a longer time end up becoming severe as years pass by.
There is enough body of research that reveals that the spanking can lead to issues such as poor health, social and mental health problems. Sometimes, in extreme cases children may attempt to commit suicide because of excessive spanking.
However, there has been no research so far to prove that spanking is beneficial. Some parents who believe that spanking is acceptable if carried out in a certain way seem to be just expressing their own opinions that are not scientifically accepted or proved.
Problems caused by spanking
Spanking children can cause more problems than offer cure for it. Given below are a few reasons to not to spank children:
- Spanking does not help children behave correctly: while spanking may stop the problem in short term, it may not be that effective in long term. For example a child who is spanked for quarrelling with his or her sibling, may probably not quarrel with his or her sibling immediately, but will never ever learn how to get along with his sibling in future.
- Spanking provokes aggression and antisocial behaviour: Many research findings indicate that spanking leads to aggression and antisocial behaviour in kids. The more they are spanked, the more stubborn and aggressive they get.
- Repeated spanking will make children feel ashamed: Spanking can cause a child to suffer from low self-esteem. These experiences will demotivate children when it comes to improving their behaviour.
- Children tend to focus on their parents behaviour as a result of spanking. Repeated spanking will force children to get angry with their parents rather than work out on methods to please their parents. This will push them to decisions based on their feelings and not how to correct themselves.
- Spanking becomes ineffective as time passes by: Children get used to spanking and this method of discipline will lose its effect on children as time passes.
- Spanking is not an option for growing children. If parents use spanking as a disciplinary measure starting from young age what would they opt for when their children enter their teens! So this measure is not considered a good option.
So what can a parent do instead of spanking?
There are better strategies that parents can follow rather than spanking. Explain what acceptable behaviour is and what is not. Also explain that there will be consequences for bad behaviour and follow up with action when they do something unacceptable.
You can cut short their privileges for behaviour that is unacceptable. For example, take away electronic gadgets for a day or use the appropriate disciplinary measures to correct your child.
The main goal of every parent should be to make sure your child grows up with the required skills to be a responsible child. So think carefully as to which strategy will help your child improve or discipline and use those accordingly. The important thing is for your child to gain through your intervention or help.
Research data has shown time and again that spanking is not the best of effective method of disciplining a child. Consider alternative methods of discipline your child that have less emotional impact on your child. Focus on discipline rather than punishment. Good luck and happy parenting!