5 Reasons I Will Not Spank My Child
A 2017 US poll showed that nearly 67% of parents approve of the use of spanking. The highest were shown here in the dirty south with an approval rate of 73%! Coming from a household that did not use spanking as a form of behavior management, this is saddening and shocking.
I will never spank my child.
In parenting, I try to to never say never. I have learned already that perspectives change, things seems less or more important as time goes on, and things pop up that prevent you from parenting how you imagined—essentially, life happens, but I will never spank Atlas.
Here are my reasons:
I would not condone hitting an adult to correct their behavior. If I see an adult in public having a meltdown, would I take it into my own hands to smack them out of it? No (even if I do sometimes think about it :P ). If I am unwilling to strike an adult out of an attempt to correct or to punish, then why would it make sense to strike a child? Sure, you may say “well it’s different because your child is yours, of course you wouldn’t hit a random adult,” so, alright, it only makes sense if the individual is specifically my little person—the one that looks up to me to show him how to handle himself, how to treat others, and how to treat those smaller and dependent on him? Hm, ok.
Which brings me to the question: what does spanking teach our children? It teaches them that hitting others is ok and that responding emotionally through physical violence is ok. Time Magazine posted an article on a multi-year study which revealed that spanking leads to more aggressive adults. It states: “Of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5.” Monkey see, monkey do! It also discusses a survey of mothers from 20 cities on spanking, which revealed “As 5-year-olds, the children who had been spanked were more likely than the nonspanked to be defiant, demand immediate satisfaction of their wants and needs, become frustrated easily, have temper tantrums and lash out physically against other people or animals.”
It harms their brain. Using corporal punishment has been shown in several studies to have a negative effect on the grey matter of the brain. For those that don’t know, the grey matter is involved in sensory processing, speech, emotions, memory, and muscular control. In meta-analyses published in 2016—involving more than 160,000 children— spanking was shown to result in poorer mental health in childhood as well as adulthood and higher levels of antisocial behavior.
It damages the trust between child and parent. When you lash out on your child, physically or verbally, it tells them that you cannot control yourself enough to handle them calmly. Children need boundaries. They need to know what are safe parameters for them to live and grow, but resorting to corporal punishment shows children that you are unable to show them their boundaries in a respectful and non-harming way. How can we expect this to lead to the healthy relationships we all desire to have with our children?
Spanking is banned in nearly 60 countries. That’s right, 60 other countries are ahead of the US in terms of advocating healthy parenting habits. Countries such as Brazil and Sweden have already passed legislation banning the use of spanking in the home (Sweden since 1979!), and other countries in the UK are in the process of creating such legislation.
What is the alternative? Well, first off, I can’t recommend the book No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury enough. Instead of looking for the alternatives for physical punishment, we must examine how and why we “punish” as a whole. Parents need to be empowered with the tools to address behavioral concerns in a calm, respectful way. Children need to feel safe and understood by their parents more than any other people. As their caregivers, we are setting the stage for the quality of relationships that our children will find acceptable for the rest of their lives. We must do better. Think about the large scale effects that implementing this style of parenting could have on the whole world. People could become less violent, more respectful of others, and more loving to themselves. What would bringing more of that into the world do for the quality of life for everyone?