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To Spank or Not to Spank?
By Elizabeth Pantley,
Author of Kid Cooperation, Perfect Parenting, Hidden Messages, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution
In my house, my father had a belt hanging on a hook in the kitchen. It was a visible reminder to be good or to be put over his knee. We were all afraid of that belt. One day, my father couldn’t find it. Eventually it was found-in the trashcan-my little sister, then age six, had decided the garbage would be a better place for it! She was due for a spanking and was trying to avoid it. Once discovered, she knew her spanking would be worse than ever. When my father put her over his knee he noticed that her little rear end had been replaced by a large lumpy surface-wadded up towels in her underpants! Boy did he get angry! He pulled out the towels, pulled down her pants, and proceeded to hit her. I can still remember the welts on her bottom after her bare skin was hit with that belt. I remember thinking, “Yuk!” As a mother with four children of my own, the memory brings tears to my eyes. The odd thing about this story is that both my sister and I remember the spanking; but neither of us can recall what the behavior was that caused it. We know that our father must have been trying to teach a lesson. The lesson, however, has been lost. The memory of the spanking is all that remains.
Our parents punished us the same way in which they were punished. And their parents punished them the same way in which our grandparents were punished as children. After all, we learn what we live. We tend to parent the way we were parented. Somewhere along the line parents need to stop the pattern. They need to evaluate their child-rearing methods, especially checking for those destructive practices that they may be following simply out of habit. Parents need to research the current data, analyze their current parenting results and continually look for better answers.
I have four children. They are respectful, responsible, well-behaved and just plain great kids. I don’t believe in spanking, and have used only positive, loving discipline with them. Parents often ask me whether they should spank their children or not. When looking at the issue of spanking, I urge them to consider the following:
Even with these points in mind I’ve read several articles that address the issue of spanking where the writer says it’s okay to spank if the child is in danger - for instance, if a toddler is running into the street, or reaching out to touch a hot burner on the stove. They suggest that at these times a few pops on the rear end are okay. I must admit this naïve mindset baffles me. Why in the world would we want to teach our children about safety by hurting them? Does you ski instructor jab you with his ski pole to teach you not to jump off the chairlift?
A parent who believes that spanking is the only effective way to teach a young child about safety issues is not giving the child enough credit. Children - even little ones - can indeed learn about safety through our teaching them. As a matter of fact, through teaching they will learn much more, as they can absorb the reason for the rule, and over time, can learn to make good decisions on their own. I watched two friends one summer teach their toddlers not to run in the street Mom A give her toddler a swat on the rear every time he went in to the street. Mom B picked up her toddler, looked him in the eye, and said, “NO street! Dangerous. Stay by Mommy.” By the end of the summer, both children learned to stay out of the street. Which child understood why? And which child has better communication with his mother?
Positive, respectful, consistent discipline is the real key to raising well-behaved children.
Excerpted with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. (http://www.newharbinger.com/) from Kid Cooperation, How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate by Elizabeth Pantley (http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth, copyright 1996)
Copyright 1997-2015 by Gentle Christian Mothers™
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.