In a world where spanking your kids is no longer the acceptable form of punishment for many families, it makes me wonder why spanking kids doesn’t work?
I mean, many of us grew up being spanked and we turned out just fine, right? Well, sure some of us may have turned out fine after being raised in a home where spanking was the normal disciplinary tactic, but it didn’t leave us with any long-term learning benefits.
And here’s why.
Why Spanking Kids Doesn’t Work
When you spank a child, there’s so much more going on than just “behavior correction”. There’s actual damage to the brain that occurs that shapes more than only outward choices, just like children who experience child abuse.
I’m not saying that the large percent of parents who spank their children are child abusers. But, as with the changes to a child’s mental health and mental state following abuse, children who have been spanked show similar effects.
This damage is long lasting and puts a child in a fight-or-flight state rather than a “thinking” state. But, there’s more to it than that even.
Spanking Doesn’t Teach Anything Productive
Spanking kids doesn’t teach kids the necessary components to put two and two together — spanking is not a natural consequence to their actions, so it’s an unrelated action following something completely different.
When you opt for corporal punishment for your child as a disciplinary tactic, chances are that it only teaches them more aggressive habits in the future. They are immediately frightened or hurt enough to stop the behavior immediately, sure, but it doesn’t help them comprehend why they were disciplined in the first place. Children can’t learn how to make better choices if they do not understand their own behavior.
The alternative to spanking that does work to teach something productive is natural consequences. Specifically related, non-punitive consequences that are directly, tangibly connected make more sense to the human brain. So, if junior takes a crayon to the wall, instead of spanking and yelling, the alternative would be the natural consequence of having to help clean the crayon off the wall.
Spanking Enforces Fear not Respect
Often times a kid who grows up in a home where physical punishment is the main form of discipline, the child grows up to be more fearful of their parents. Parents are supposed to teach respect as a means to become well-rounded individuals preparing them for when the kids venture offer into adulthood. When you hit children, even on their bottoms, it enforces fear and intimidation tactics versus how to respect someone and communicate properly.
It may appear that spanking the child is fostering good behaviors, but the reason they are doing them is for the wrong reasons, even if there are no apparent behavior problems.
That means that their internal motivation inside is not positive, but rather coming from fear. This can cause older children and adults to be riddled with anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.
Alternatively, when parents and children speak to one another in a positive discipline situation, the child can hear and be heard, allowing their parent to express WHY the behavior was not acceptable and discuss making different choices. This will allow your child to be acting from respect in the future because they were shown respect. It is a cycle.
Spanking Doesn’t Teach Conflict Resolution Skills
Kids need to learn conflict resolutions skills as a means to properly cope with conflict in general society and at school. With spanking as the main form of discipline in the home, kids are unable to learn healthy conflict resolution skills.
Many studies have been completed that show kids who were spanked as a disciplinary tactic were often left being aggressive when trying to resolve conflict with peers.
Which makes sense — if hitting worked to get them to act differently, surely it will work on someone else.
But that’s not how our society expects people to interact. It is beyond inexcusable for a boss to hit an employee or a teacher to hit a student. So, the rules should extend to children, too.
As an alternative to spanking, parents can help children to understand how to resolve conflict in a positive manner by modeling it — and walking a child through it when conflict occurs. So, for example, if your two kids are fighting over a toy, rather than spanking them, you could walk them through resolving the conflict with a compromise of taking turns.
All of this is good practice for children in a safe environment. It teaches them how to advocate for themselves in a respectful way and raise concerns with those in charge which will serve them well in school and work environments. Children can also learn how to hold a boundary respectfully and kindly with someone they love which is an important skill as they grow and develop their own relationships.
Violence Isn’t the Answer
In a world where we’re trying to teach adults to be kinder to each other, spanking doesn’t help. Spanking a kid teaches kids that violence is the answer to enforce their opinions and beliefs. It also perpetuates the divisive idea that people who have different opinions or ideas are a threat.
If a kid who makes a bad decision associates that bad behavior with a violent act, such as spanking, they’re more apt to be violent in the future when someone doesn’t agree with them or do as they feel they should.
When you opt to discipline a child for something they’ve done incorrectly or wrong, you are trying to teach them a lesson so they don’t make this bad decision again. Most parents hope that when it comes to setting forth a punishment of some sort, their child will learn a lesson. That lesson is usually to not make the same bad decision again. This is teaching reactive decision making and not proactive decision making.
Spanking has been proven to get immediate results but often leaves the child curious about what exactly they should adjust next time if a similar situation arrives where they have to choose a different decision or response.
So, rather than spanking, which just leaves them with a sore bottom, brain damage, fear and questions, why not leave them with answers?! As the alternative, if a child has a behavior problem, take that opportunity to make it a lesson on how to make different choices. Walk the child through the options they had and let them process it without fear.