• Dr. Luisa Bryce

Part 2: Three Reasons to Stop Spanking Kids


1. NO SPANKING DOES NOT EQUAL NO DISCIPLINE.

When I suggested not spanking your children, I did not mean to imply you should simply let them run amuck and turn into “spoiled brats.” Children most certainly thrive in structured environments where there are clear expectations, rules, and consequences. Spanking is a form of punishment, and there are many alternatives to spanking which serve the same purpose, disciplining the child.

2. SPANKING IS DIFFERENT THAN CHILD ABUSE

As previously stated, spanking and other forms of physical punishment are perfectly legal means of discipline in many states, as long as parents do not leave injuries on their children. So no, spanking is not child abuse. The issue with spanking is that it’s an emotional response. Usually when we get physical, we’re emotional. Imagine being perfectly calm, collected, and non-emotional and spanking your child… or getting into a physical fight with another adult while non-emotional. Nine times out of ten, it just doesn’t happen. When we’re emotionally, we tend to make decisions based on feelings rather than logic, and we’re much more likely to get out of control and do or say something we’ll regret.

The other problem with spanking is that it doesn’t teach or model positive, alternative behavior. I was spanked occasionally as a child. One time it was because I bit a little boy I was playing with who wouldn’t share his crayons. Did I know after that not to bite other kids? Yes, because I was afraid of being spanked again. However, did I know what to do instead of biting when someone wouldn’t share? Nope. I was three years old and had absolutely no social reasoning skills. Skillful behavior is modeled and is learned over time. It takes patience and practice. If you want a quick result, spank your child, but don’t expect him or her not to hit others as a means of solving problems.

3. TIME-OUTS DO NOT WORK FOR ALL CHILDREN

Indeed! Some children truly enjoy time-outs. One of the key components in determining effective consequences for your child is learning what is aversive to him or her, as in not positively reinforcing. For some children, sitting alone in a quiet corner is quite enjoyable. Others avoid it at all costs. The trick is to find something your child cannot stand so he or she will be less likely to repeat the negative behavior due to the aversive consequence that awaits. Here are a few of my favorite parenting resources, which give in-depth examples of alternative consequences for both spanking and time-out:

The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child, by Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D.

Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition) by Foster Cline & Jim Fay 

4. YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD BEST

No one knows your child better than you do. And anyone who pretends to is probably using smoke and mirrors. As a child psychologist, I possess clinical expertise and knowledge. I know the research and I can give you the facts. I can also tell you what’s worked for other families and what’s been a total flop. I can assist you in learning skillful behaviors when you’re feeling lost, and I can help you become a more confident, effective parent. I will never pretend to know your child better than you. Bottom line, parenting is difficult and every kid is different.

Thank you for your comments and continued interest in Harmony At Home. If you’re looking for help or have a specific question regarding your child, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Luisa.

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