Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Discipline Dilemma: To Spank or Not to Spank

Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images
  as seen in 
"The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behaviour, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan." https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425143106.htm
This blog post is perhaps the most meaningful and personal that I've written. I first decided that this would be a topic I would write about because of the number of student's I've had come into my office and discuss the manner in which they have been disciplined at home. One of the difficult jobs I've faced as a counsellor is listening to stories of parents use of corporal punishment and, as best I can, trying to frame my response to this in a non-judgemental, "I don't want to tell you that what you've experienced is WRONG," kind of way.

But it is wrong. 

Growing up in the 80's & 90's, spanking in households was pretty much the norm in the US. With that being said, I would never categorise my experiences with corporal punishment as abuse, and spankings were few and far between. In short, they never left any lasting physical and emotional scars. However, I consider myself fortunate: fortunate that my parents were almost always willing to talk through problems and disagreements with me, provided me with unconditional love and nurturing, and that physical discipline only occurred when one parent had (truly) reached their breaking point.

But not all kids are that lucky.

We teach our kids in school not to hit or put their hands on anyone in an aggressive, unkind way. We make sure to educate our young girls about personal boundaries and the importance of respect...both for our bodies and for others. Day after day, teachers work tirelessly to teach children to use positive, non-violent coping strategies when faced with conflict or when someone has made us angry.

Corporal punishment goes against all of this. And the message that is sent to kids is confusing. 

If you hit someone in the workplace who has made you angry, the consequences can range from being fired, suspended or perhaps even brought up on assault charges. In most cultures, striking a spouse is illegal. Yet, when we respond to children in this manner, adults get a free pass. Why is this so?

Here is a quote from one of my favourite websites:

"The only positive outcome that's ever been shown from spanking is immediate compliance. That sounds like a good outcome, right? The problem is that corporal punishment is also associated with less long-term compliance. Corporal punishment has repeatedly been linked with nine other negative outcomes, including increase rates of aggression, delinquency, mental health problems and problems in relationship with their parents."

Isn't this enough of a reason to consider using other methods when disciplining children? 
More on this topic next time. 

Full article with the quote above can be found at http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/should-I-spank-my-child.

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