I must be really into commentary the last few days: today I participated in a survey regarding spanking and whether or not it’s considered abuse.
Funny, last time I checked, only 11% of those responding indicated that spanking was the equivalent of abuse; most referred to it as “hitting”. That means, of course, 89% did NOT believe that spanking was the same as abuse, or even “hitting”.
Now, to me and to, apparently, most of the world, a pop on the behind or a tap on the hand are certainly not hitting. Synonyms for hitting could be “smack”, “slug”, “punch”, and so forth; kicking, too would be abusive but not likely referring to “hitting”. And of course “hitting” is “hitting”.
Those who believe spanking is abusive may have indeed been abused as children; most likely swore they would never “hit” their children. Often, but not always, their children are the worst behaved brats imaginable.
Some of them luck out – my guess is that approximately one quarter of children don’t ever need a spanking. Their parents probably use other methods: talking, lecturing, explaining, time-outs; maybe their kids are just naturally well-behaved. Like I said, maybe a fourth of all kids.
Another quarter, on the other end of the scale, are so hard-headed and ornery that nothing short of a good old-fashioned spanking is going to get their attention. Oh, once in a while you, the parent, might catch a break and the child will appear to listen. Betcha it’s not habit, though. You might even comfort yourself with the fact that your other child or children do behave well, and be able to ignore the one who is acting up. Good for you. The rest of us, however, see that child and cringe.
The other fifty percent of kids fall somewhere in the middle – the bell curve, remember that? “In the middle” means that yes, you might have to tap them on the hand or pop them on the rear to emphasize a point. Anyone who has had a conversation with a 2- or 3-year-old knows that, for example, they don’t comprehend abstract concepts particularly well. Of course, there are many parents who believe that little Susie or Johnny is brilliant beyond comparison and they DO understand. Ha.
That means, too, that if you only have one child, odds are you have no problems. If you have two, good luck! Of course, the more children in your home, the more role models are available, good or bad, so it can exponentially be positive or negative.
Yes, those of us who spank do believe that emphasis is sometimes necessary. Do we spank for every infraction? No. Do we spank as a first resort? No, again. Do we hit or abuse our children? Not at all.
And, by the way, those so-called experts? A lot of them don’t have children, thank goodness. And some have since retracted their supposed expertise and advice. So don’t run off half-cocked, believing everything you’re told or have read; use some common sense. Or, in this day and age, some UNcommon sense.
One last word – spanking does not teach a child to hit others, nor does it incite violence or violent behavior. Spanking CAN be violent – which is abusive, or hitting, or whatever word you wish to use. And spanking CAN be done in anger, which can also be abusive. Of course, as Erma Bombeck once said, and I paraphrase: if I can’t spank my child in anger, when should I spank him? When he comes over to me to give me a hug?
As you can see, the debate is rather ridiculous.
We have five children. Three have never needed a spanking, although may have gotten a pop on the rear once or twice. Two of them did get spanked a few times; one could have undoubtedly benefited from a trip out back to the woodshed. Two have said their father’s lectures were worse than a spanking, and one responds to merely a short reprimand or a cross look.
All kids are different; all respond differently. But stop and take a good look at your child’s behavior and see if, really, your methods are effective. They may be too lax, they may be too harsh. But it’s your decision.
Remember, “discipline” means to teach and train. If your child is consistently misbehaving and obviously not reacting to your attempts to correct him, you may need to make a change.