Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spare the rod?

Time magazine just released an article on a study showing how spanking leads to more aggression in children.


There are more scientific studies showing a correlation between childhood corporal punishment and violence than I could read (and I am adept at reading journal articles by now). But, what bothers me more about this Time article is the comment section. With people becoming so angry over the idea of NOT hitting a child, is it any wonder that our nation has so much violence?

"Children are the only people in this society anybody is allowed to hit. All the rest of us are legally protected."
**from the article "Physical Punishment in the Home" by Penelope Leach.

If questioned, I could go on and on about why hitting should not be used as a form of discipline for anyone (it doesn't work, it leads to resentment and mistrust of parents, aggression, it's not logical) but I don't want to be questioned. Because all those questions are really asking is "why don't you make the right decision and hit your kid?" Anecdotal evidence stating "I was spanked and I turned out fine" does not convince me that hitting is an effective form of discipline. I could just as easily say "John Smith was spanked and he is a serial killer, or Susie Q wasn't spanked and now she runs a fortune 500 company". Anecdotal evidence is nothing. Not to mention, I like to include in my anecdotal response "I was spanked and turned out amazing despite the hitting. And I still work through it emotionally every day".
Really, what I find interesting is that people assume that spanking is the only discipline. Umm...no. Hitting is easy discipline; discipline for those who did not have time to build skills in conflict resolution, who don't believe children are beings with whom you can be rational or reasonable, or who are exhausted and don't have enough support. Or maybe they feel their religion compels them to spank.***

Well, I am not raising a dog here, I want Aengus to be his own person. I'm just here to help him along the way, not to be Augusto Pinochet. If sometimes he disagrees with me, so what? I disagree with Will sometimes--does that mean I have disrespected him? Not necessarily. It's all about respecting each other. Which led us to: Gentle Discipline.

"Parents who choose "gentle discipline" or "positive discipline", do not spank, but instead will use things like distraction (for toddlers) and natural and logical consequences (for older children). If they do use "time-outs", they tend to use them in a nonpunitive way--a break, away from a situation where the child has lost control of themselves and need to take a couple minutes to get control again. Generally the parent will participate in this "positive time-out" with the child, as opposed to sending them away to "think about what they did" or to punish them."

***By the way, if you are part of a certain mainstream U.S. religion (evangelicals, I'm looking at you) and you feel hitting is wrong, please check out this website for other parents from your religion who will support you in parenting gently. (They can also provide you with resources including verses from the bible and other religious texts to help with explaining to family members, etc).

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