Google+ Authentic Parenting: There is Always an Alternative to Spanking

Friday, July 13, 2012

There is Always an Alternative to Spanking


Physical punishment does not help raise well behaved children – it hurts AND it puts children at risk for developing mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and more later in life.  

Although most parents will reach a point of exasperation, feel at a loss of what to do, or simply follow what they experienced as a child, it simply is never OK to hit, swat, shove or spank a child.  Does it happen a lot? Yes, it does. Do parents tell themselves it is justified? Sure.  But, really and truly there is always an alternative to spanking.  Even if we cannot see it, in that moment of fury, disappointment or despair, the alternatives are there.


Maybe you believe that you were spanked and therefore it’s perfectly alright to spank your child, after all you turned out just fine.  Children shouldn’t turn out just fine, children shouldn’t be negotiating the tricky  path that it is to grow up with artificially and unnecessarily  created trauma and disappointment. Life offers plenty of obstacles without the added assault.  Children should be guided and supported so they can thrive, not recover and say they survived. 

Maybe when you get really frustrated, you cannot see any possible alternative, and I get that. I’ve been in that red zone of total fear and anger before.  When I get really frustrated, I try to remind myself that this whole parenting stuff is a process, things cannot possibly be solved with one swat or spanking. There simply isn’t a quick fix or a magic solution.

Some may say a child will never learn life’s lessons unless they are spanked. Children are smart and capable, let's give them some credit! Children learn hundreds of things without punishments. 

Babies spend somewhere between 12 and 16 months learning to walk. They find their feet, they learn to roll, they pull up to a standing…it’s a process.  Learning about right from wrong, boundaries, social skills, language…it’s just like that, it’s a process. As parents we can accompany our children, give them guidance and model the way.

It’s not easy. It can’t be easy. Life is far too complex and amazing to be easy. It takes patience, waiting, lots and lots of waiting, more patience and yup you guessed it, more patience. There will be trials, errors, a lot of emotions with bound, rise and fall. There will be disappointment, sadness, happiness, frustration... There does not need to be added pain.  

If you choose to spank your child, you are making a choice. What would happen if the next time ask yourself: Is it work the risk? What is my reason for spanking? Is it to teach a lesson? Can I choose to teach my child in a different way?

If my child is being disrespectful, I can show respect, model what I expect in return. If I keep my hands to myself, count to 100, show other ways to handle my frustrations and speak with empathy and understanding. I can take a break and cool off. I can find someone to help me. I can simply walk away. By doing that, I am showing my child real life skills. Skills that she can take with her for life to use anywhere under any circumstance.

For every choice we make there is always an alternative. So If we must teach a lesson to our children, why not choose to teach a lesson of love, compassion and understanding?
Our children will make mistakes, they may make bad choices. We can make better choices, we can lead the way, we can ask for forgiveness, forgive, look for alternatives, provide solutions and most of all, we can be the safe and trusted placed our children need us to be.

So, no matter what your reason might be for raising your hand, please remember there is ALWAYS an alternative to spanking.

Peace & Be Well, 




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8 comments:

  1. I hear what you say, and I completely agree. In an ideal, carefree world I would never dream of hitting any of my children. However, I freely admit that I have at times 'swatted' them out of absolute exasperation. Whilst I am not a violent person and don't in an any way condone actual abuse of any sort, I don't have a problem with the odd cuff if one of them oversteps a boundary again and again and I do not think it will lead them to substance abuse later in life. There are various degrees of punishment: you can't bracket it all as 'abuse': if a child is continually being hit for minor misdemeanors, then yes, that is a problem and it is definitely abuse.

    Sure, there is always an alternative, but I don't think parents should be made to feel any more guilt for their actions than they often already do: it is up to everyone to decide their own limits. As long as children are loved and know that they are loved, there is no problem in my opinion. Animal mothers will growl and swat their offspring to control their behaviour: I don't see that we are that different! If I ever feel that I should have behaved differently, and could have been kinder, I apologise and explain so - this is far healthier in my view than walking away or pretending that I'm not angry or being frustrated.

    Go on, hate me! I'd rather people talked than felt too squashed by fear to speak.

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  2. Chloe,
    I appreciate your honesty and I can totally understand the feeling of exasperation. While I hear you,years and years worth of research point that it is in fact the swatting and spanking that put children at risk (it's not just the children that are abused but rather the weekly or monthly spankings that many parents think are harmless are in fact not...)of course it's not a guarantee that they will be doomed to drug users, development is complex afterall. While I agree that children should feel loved as you say, on the mama animal thing...the thing is we are more evolved than animal mothers, we have reasoning, research and CAN develop the ability to self regulate. my hope is that the message here is one to give encouragement and support, that there ARE alternatives and that despite how hard it maybe, just maybe those questions will make a parent pause and think...is it worth the risk? Can I think of an alternative in this moment? I'm not professing that this is easy, not at all, I'm just saying effective alternatives really and truly do exist. thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  3. I agree. Even, in my nursery where there are several kids to take care of and each child is different in behavior I do not let my staff to spank them. I believe that a kid should be allowed to be as he or she wants. Besides I think kids may be small but if we reason with them like a grown ups, they do understand what is right and what is wrong.

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  4. Interesting to hear a nursery leader admnitting that spanking could be even an option: not a professional attitude at all!

    I agree that there are alternatives, but I still stand by my comment that I would prefer my children see me being as honest as I can be with them. if I make a mistake, I say so: I don't quietly go off stage and smash plates, parenting is not a performance where extras can appear and take my place if I'm not up to the job.

    Most parents would agree I think that how they bring their children up and how they are told by everyone else to do it can often be very far apart indeed. That constant pressure can in itself lead to poor parenting because people are trying too hard to be something they are not: many people have already spent many years dealing with their own personalities before they even become parents after all,

    I know you're only offering advice and trying to point people in the 'right' direction- I wouldn't read this blog if I thought otherwise, but I do also feel that one of the most important things to teach a child is honesty (authenticity?) - intellectual and emotional - and to be able to admit thar you're not perfect.

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  5. I respect your opinion. Unfortunately it is only an opinion and not backed up by anything other than those who share the same opinion. Please don't make general statements about children becoming drug addicts because of spanking without having proof of it.

    It is scientifically proven that telling a child they are "smart" can be lead to anxiety and poor performance, however no one is pointing fingers at parents that do that.

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    Replies
    1. another piece of research FYI http://phys.org/news173077612.html

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  6. Annonymous, if you take a minute to click on the link that is attached to that claim you will see it is linked to a site from the American academy of pediatrics with a summary of various RESEARCH studies linking spanking to mental illness and substance abuse. Additionally it was not a general claim it was a statement that spanking can put children at RISK, a statement which is supported by the AAP, and various other physicians and parenting educators and the newest research studies.

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