Parental Dilemma: To Spank or Not to Spank

To spank or not to spank has been a question of debate for decades, with no real side coming out as the definite winner. Many people only see black and white with this issue in that they either believe that any and all spanking is bad or that spanking is the only real way to teach your children. As different as these two viewpoints are on how to raise your children, both sides of the issue are good and loving parents who want only the best for their children.

Most people feel very strongly about this subject and they consider it not to be an area up for discussion. They believe, and rightfully so, that as the parent they are able to choose the appropriate means of punishment for their children. There are some parents who have not quite made the decision about the best means of punishment and are dealing with the parental dilemma: to spank or not to spank.

The Pros of Spanking

Those who believe that spanking is an appropriate and effective way to punish their children, generally think that children need to understand that it is important not to do bad things. They feel that a spanking will send their children a loud and clear message that what they did was wrong. Most people, who believe in spanking as a means of punishment, grew up in a home where spanking took place. They feel that the spankings they received as a child taught them a lesson and they want to teach that same lesson to their children.

Proponents of spanking do have some studies that show that spanking can be effective at least on a short-term basis. Studies have shown that this type of punishment really only works for those children who are between two and six years old and works best when performed with other punishment forms, like time-outs.

The Cons of Spanking

Proponents of non-spanking forms of punishment often believe that spanking will harm a child both physically and emotionally. They believe that there is never a reason when physical force is useful or necessary. Many of them feel that spanking is cruel and claim that they would never do such a thing to their child. They believe that other forms of punishment like reasoning, positive reinforcement and time-outs are much more useful and effective.

Proponents turn to many studies performed to support their opinion. Most studies done show that children who are spanked as children are more likely to have aggressive, anti-social behavior when they get older. Studies predict that adults who were spanked as a child are more likely to handle stressful tension with aggression than those children who were not spanked growing up.

A Personal Choice

Whether you agree or disagree with spanking as a form of punishment, our society has considered it the right of the parent to choose for themselves the form of punishment to use for their children. So if you are deciding which way to go, becoming informed of all of your options for punishment should be your first step. Review techniques and suggestions for both spanking and non-spanking form of punishment and see how successful each type seems to be in helping children change their negative behavior. Educating yourself, will help you go a long way in making the right decision for your family.

Setting Realistic Expectations

No matter what form a punishment you choose to use for your child, you must first understand what the realistic expectations are for a child your child’s age. Is it reasonable for a two year old child to sit still for an hour, absolutely not but sometimes we find ourselves expecting just that thing. Have you ever sat in the doctor’s office, scolding your two year old for not sitting still in the waiting room? It is not reasonable to believe that a two year old can sit still that long, so punishing them would really have no impact.

The internet is a great source of information that will allow you to find out what the age appropriate expectations are for your child. Educate yourself so you know what to expect and more importantly what not to expect from your child. Make sure your expectations and punishment fit their age.

Keeping Your Anger Under Control

The most common problem that occurs when you choose to spank your child is the likelihood of punishing them out of anger rather than love. If you regularly spank your child, it is very easy to become frustrated with them and lash out at them with anger. This is a very dangerous path to go down and it can quickly lead to abuse if you are not careful. No matter what form of punishment you use, you should never punish your child out of anger.

Punishment should be strictly used to help your child change their negative behavior into a positive appropriate behavior. If you start only punishing your child out of anger, there is never a lesson to learn. You will only be confusing your child and he will begin to associate a spanking with your anger and this can lead to low self-esteem and aggression problems with your child.

If you are finding yourself losing control of your anger and have started spanking your child because of your anger – you should stop spanking altogether. This is not the appropriate way of punishment and you will want to stop it before it leads to a more serious problem like abuse. Find a parenting counselor, who can work with you to teach you other appropriate tools for punishing your child.

Only as a Last Resort

If you do choose to use spanking as a form of punishment, only do so as a last resort. Many studies show that spankings are most effective when performed in conjunction with other types of punishment. You should first try time-outs or reasoning before ever considering spanking, you child should not be receiving spankings every day.

One of the most important factors in punishment, no matter what form you use, is to be consistent and follow through. If you set a certain punishment as a consequence of a negative action, it is very important that you follow through with the punishment you set forth. For example, if you tell your child if he throws his toys one more time, he is going to sit in timeout, you must sit him in timeout if he does it again. Do not change your mind and do not bargain with your children. Set the limits and consequences and stick with them.

Above All, Love

Most importantly remember that you love your children and punishment is a form of that love. You want them to grow up to be healthy, happy and good adults, so you must teach them when they are young that they have responsibilities and that there are consequences for their actions. By punishing with love, your children will grow up to be happy and well-behaved.



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