We all want our kids to be respectful, upstanding citizens. But is spanking really the best way to do that?
While kids may listen to an order after being spanked, that doesn't mean this is the best method of discipline. Short-term effectiveness means nothing, as far as long-term lessons and damage. There are several reasons I've come to the same conclusions time and again. In fact, in all of my years of being around children, in every single case where spanking is used as a form of discipline, every one of the following reasons I won't spank comes into play.
Spanking can cause a dangerous fear.
In my observance of those who have been spanked, they listen only because they are afraid -- and only when they know someone is around that will deliver that form of punishment. The behavior is often repeated when the child no longer has a fear of receiving that punishment. This can cause the child to misbehave for others.
These children often fear not only the punishment, but the deliverer of said punishment. In many of these instances, if a child needs to confide in someone (even about dangerous issues like bullying), they often will not do so out of fear. This is very dangerous territory for a parent. A child cannot fear the person they should be able to come to for help and advice.
Spanking can cause misconceptions regarding hitting.
Another issue that is very common among spanked children is the resolution of problems through violence. Time and time again, I see children who are spanked hitting friends, siblings, and sometimes authority figures when things don't go the way they'd like.
By hitting a child as a means of solving a problem, you are teaching that child to hit other people if they don't do what they want them to. That is not the way to lead a productive citizenship among society. Imagine if your boss at work slapped you every time he/she wasn't happy with the way you handled something. Spanking your child is exactly the same thing.
Spanking can lead to bullying.
An extensive study found that kids who were spanked were twice as likely to participate in aggressive behaviors, such as bullying, fighting, and otherwise being mean to other kids. Children who were spanked by the age of three were highly likely to bully by the age of five.
This goes back to the previous point that when you teach a child they will be hit when they don't do what they are told, they learn that this is the way to treat others as well. You can't go around hitting everyone that doesn't do what you tell them.
Children are not robots.
Why do some parents feel that children are supposed to do each and every thing we order them to do? Some things make sense, especially when you are teaching safety and responsibility. However, as parents, we should be raising our children to think for themselves so that they know how when they go out on their own in the world.
They can't go out into the streets and just say yes to everything other people tell them. Also, everything will not be handled by others. They need to know how to do things for themselves and figure out how to make it.
Zero Spanking Does Not Mean Zero Discipline.
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone made statements implying that just because I don't spank my children, they wouldn't learn a lesson or be well-behaved. Many of these same people are dealing with kids who have been in trouble for fighting, bearing weapons, and other violent or destructive behavior.
Positive Parenting Does Not Mean Zero Discipline. Discipline should not be done to prove a point or come out of frustration. Appropriate disciplinary techniques should be unique to the specific situation and produce a positive and productive result.
Just because someone does not spank does not mean their children don't have consequences. In fact, children who aren't spanked but are given alternative consequences have always learned the lesson faster, in my experience. This is because when you give a child a consequence that is related to the situation, it causes them to actually think of the situation itself, rather than the punishment.
The above said, I am a firm believer that there is more than one way to parent a child and I don't look down on those who choose to use methods other than those I use with my own children.