I have to again immediately point out that I recognize I am of the small majority of American parents who does not spank my child; nor have I ever.
This is something I’ve addressed before in both I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With, as well as, Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?
Whether or not other parents spank their children is none of my interest, but I do believe it’s important to help explain some of my reasoning; if nothing else, for those who are curious.
Typically, pro-spanking parents are quick to say, “Well, I was spanked as a child and I turned out just fine!”
The term “just fine” is difficult to qualify, but typically the person will follow up by saying they’ve never been to prison or killed anyone.
Following this logic, that means most prisoners, former prisoners, and ex-cons were not spanked as children. Conversely, that also implies that most children who are spanked stay out of prison.
Ultimately, since most, 80%, of American children are spanked, that means in theory that at least 80% of current prisoners and ex-cons were spanked.
In other words, I’m having difficulty seeing the validity in that spanking children keeps them from growing up to be adults who end up in prison.
During the 3 year span I was the official daddy blogger of Parents.com, I learned a lot from Richard Rende, PhD, who is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School. He had this to say in his article, Spanking Doesn’t Work:
”Let’s keep in mind here the argument for spanking – it’s purported to improve children’s behavior. Studies continue to demonstrate that it does not do this, and in fact often predicts worse behavior. So despite the personal stories and folklore about how a good spanking can change a kid, each empirical study that comes out suggests that it changes a kid for the worse, not better.
If these stories ring true, why don’t we see huge positive effects of spanking when we study kids over time?”
I think it’s easy for non-spanking parents to assume that children who are not spanked (like mine) are brats; especially if they are an only child… again, like mine.
Of course, if you personally knew my son, you would know he’s never been in any trouble at school. Actually, in public, he’s a fairly reserved little boy. So is my son just the exception?
Or would have spanking my son this whole time made him a better behaved child? I wonder what that would look like?
So instead of spanking him, I follow these simple guidelines:
1. Ignore attention-seeking behavior.
2. Pay attention to good behavior.
3. Redirect your child.
4. Teach consequences that make sense.
5. Use time-outs for serious offenses.
The one of these I find most effective is to redirect his attention. And I’ve learned not to punish him for being tired or hungry, because I have more control over his food and sleep than he does. He’s not himself when he’s tired or hungry.
I still can’t get over how Louis CK put it in his special, Hilarious:
“And stop hitting me, you’re huge. How could you hit me?! That’s crazy. You’re a giant, and I can’t defend myself.”I really think it’s crazy that we hit our kids. It really is–here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit. But it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones! If you hit a dog they… will put you in jail for that… You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f(orget) ‘em. Who (cares)? Just… hit–let’s all hit them! People want you to hit your kid. If your kid’s making noise in public, “Hit him, hit him! Hit him! Grrr, hit him!” We’re proud of it! “I hit my kids. You’re… right I hit my kids.” Why did you hit them? “‘Cause they were doing a thing I didn’t like at the moment. And so I hit them, and guess what? They didn’t do it after that.” Well, that wouldn’t be taking the… easy way out, would it?”
Ultimately, actual research has shown that spanking has been shown to not only be less effective, but also more detrimental to the child, as seen in the infographic below.
So while I don’t at all look down on parents who spank their children, because let’s be honest, that would mean I look down on most parents if I did, with me being the minority…
I instead can be confident in knowing the reasoning behind why I am so strange to believe that for my child, spanking is not an option.