I've been a parent of two sons for nineteen years so allow me to weigh in on this issue. Spanking or any other kind of corporal punishment
is inappropriate for any reason. While physical punishment may halt the behavior at the moment it fails to teach the child what was wrong with their behavior, some children will even view this as attention and deliberately misbehave. This can lead to increasingly frequent and harsher spanking which can exceed the "reasonable force" threshold and become abuse.
According to the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, "85% of all cases of physical abuse result from some form of over-discipline through the use of corporal punishment". Each year about 44 Canadian children are known to have been killed by family members; 35 of them by parents. The figures for the United States are probably about 10 times higher. It may teach a child that might makes right and that it's okay to use force against a weaker person--violence as a way of behaving is a learned response. A study at the University of New Hampshire, released in 1998, found that spanking children slows down their intellectual development. The message to some children is that a parent or other loved and trusted adult is prepared to induce pain and even do physical harm to force unquestioning obedience. Although corporal punishment is still legal there is little remaining support for it among specialists.
It took me a long time to to reach my parenting style and philosophy. My husband spanked, but very rarely and his parenting philosophy is different from mine as I'm sure everyone's is. For personal reasons I was committed to finding a way to discipline my children without using corporal punishment and you may find some of these ideas useful. I read as much as I could about child psychology; Alfred Adler comes to mind. I took eight years of parenting classes at my church (Methodist) from Dr. Sol Grossman who believe it or not is Jewish. Just about anything by Dr. Kevin Leman fits my parenting style perfectly. I like his ideas about logical and natural consequences. Natural consequences are those things that happen as an outcome of an action. For example a child sticks his hand in hot water and gets scalded. James Dobson's Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours and Dr. Benjamin Spock's book Baby and Child Care are useful sources too.
Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Pastor says about the Bible and spanking:
"The much-touted religious argument to support corporal punishment is built upon a few isolated quotes from the Book of Proverbs. Using the same kind of selective reading, one could just as easily cite the Bible as an authority for the practice of slavery, the rigid suppression of women, polygamy, incest and infanticide. It seems to me that the brutal and vindictive practice of corporal punishment cannot be reconciled with the major themes of the New Testament which teach love and forgiveness and a respect for the beauty and dignity of children, and which overwhelmingly reject violence and retribution as a means of solving human conflicts."
Discipline is the most important job a parent can do in their child's life. Children that misbehave are kids who are searching for boundaries. If the boundaries aren't there it can be very frightening as they reach farther and farther for that limit to be set by the parent or adult in charge. If discipline isn't there then that is where society has to step in. By creating a sense of well being and security a parent goes a long way towards raising a child who is self confident and prepared for adult life.
Let's take a look at a typical scenario. I'm in a public place and my child has decided to act up. He is throwing a wall eyed fit because I won't buy him the latest box of Froo Froo cereal with the free toy inside that TV has convinced him he has to have!!! Now the key word here is decided...and that means he has made a choice and what do I do? I explain to him that screaming is an outside noise and if he would like to scream we can go outside until he's done.
Ohhh he's still screaming in the store ....then he's decided he wants to go outside. Next choice he has is whether or not he would like to walk or be carried outside...guess what? he has decided to be carried.
Embarrassing for me to pick up a screaming child tuck him under my arm and carry him out of the store? You bet! But I'm laying a foundation here that will both teach him that life is a series of natural and logical consequences, that here is a boundary and that I respect him and trust him enough to let him make his own choices.
I have put my sons outside for fighting at five in the morning and when the neighbor called I opened the door and handed them the phone. It's for them not me because it's a result of their choices and behavior. And be prepared to do it a few times, because kids will go back and test those boundaries to make sure they're still there. They want that security. Sounds simple? Yes. Time consuming? You bet! Does it take time to plan? Lots of it!
If I found a particular behavior was really getting to me I sat down and thought it through, planned logical consequences to the behavior then discussed it with the child. When it happened again I made sure to follow through on a consistent basis. Time outs are overused, they have a place in discipline, but logical consequences are more effective and can be used to reward as well. Ideas like,
You behaved so well at the store this time and you know what ?? Because you were so patient and helpful I had a terrific time shopping with you, let's go out and celebrate with a Dairy Queen!
This is what parenting is.....it's hard work and the willingness to take the time and spend it with them.
The Case Against Corporal Punishment:
Plain Talk About Spanking: