By Dori Hackleman
Yes, I am a millennial and I don’t spank my child.
I know that for some of the older generations, this is really hard to hear and you immediately think that my child is a little tiny terror, but I can assure you that she is more emotionally stable than most adults. I cannot stand reading comments online from people saying things like, “Well, just beat their ass and that’ll teach ’em!” Or, “Yeah, that kid probably acted that way because he didn’t get enough of an ass beating as a child.” Or my personal favorite: “You know what will solve that problem? Beat her ass! She’ll straighten right up!”
Do those sentences not disturb anyone else? The outright condonation of hitting a CHILD who weighs 20-60 pounds? What would that teach my daughter? That I cannot handle my emotional state well enough to reason with her tantrum or lack of listening? Sure, she has the usual four-year-old shit that she does, but overall she is a good kid. You know why? We don’t spank her. We REASON with her and talk her through all of her emotions. If she is acting up and doesn’t listen then she gets a time out or gets surfboarded out of a store. If that doesn’t work, then she gets to have quiet time in her room until she calms down enough for us to have a conversation with her. We explain to her why she got in trouble and why she doesn’t need to act a certain way. If you want personal bias, she is one of the most well behaved four-year-olds I know, and I get compliments about her all the time. Yes, I’ll admit talking and reasoning with a four-year -old, and really any child, can be exhausting and takes a lot of work, but it pays off to raise a well-rounded adult who doesn’t have to lean on someone for their emotional wellbeing, or who doesn’t have to bully anyone to prove a point with violence. Violence is not that answer and you can justify spanking as much as you want, but it is the easy way to deal with things. And at the end of the day, it’s beating your child. Would you slap your child across the face every time he/she acted up? No, that is disgusting and wrong. But hitting them with an open hand or an object is totally okay when it’s discipline, right? Not so much, and there has been research since the 1960s to prove it.
In 2012, there was a new study and research that confirmed that spanking does more harm than good. Research has shown that any physical punishment, including spanking, has led to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, and physical injury. It also has very negative effects on children because you’re not teaching them anything.
“Physical punishment doesn’t work to get kids to comply, so parents think they have to keep escalating it,” said Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D., and a leading researcher on physical punishment at the University of Texas at Austin. “That is why it is so dangerous.”
I have personally witnessed this with parents in public who are just delivering one spanking after another after another, and you can see the anger in their eyes. Sure, I get angry when my child is behaving in a way that I do not see fit in public, but hitting her is not going to solve it.
“A study published last year in Child Abuse and Neglect revealed an intergenerational cycle of violence in homes where physical punishment was used,” Gershoff said. “Researchers interviewed parents and children age three to seven from more than 100 families. Children who were physically punished were more likely to endorse hitting as a means of resolving their conflicts with peers and siblings. Parents who had experienced frequent physical punishment during their childhood were more likely to believe it was acceptable, and they frequently spanked their children. Their children, in turn, often believed spanking was an appropriate disciplinary method.”
Gershoff goes on to say that the negative effects of physical punishment may not become apparent right away, but problems will start to arise as the child gets older. By spanking out of anger, you are teaching a child that when they get angry they also need to act in anger instead of dealing with their emotions and why they are feeling what they are feeling.
Now, there was a professor, Robert Larzelere, Ph.D., at Oklahoma State University who issued his own report on “conditional spanking” that worked to help with behavioral issues rather using just alternative techniques such as reasoning, removal of privileges and time outs. It is two open-handed swats on the butt ONLY after the other techniques did not work.
There are so many helpful and informative articles out there to support that spanking is not the answer to a well-rounded child/individual. I was spanked as a child myself, and I am not a better person because of it. It did nothing for me other than make me a very timid and quiet child who later turned into a timid, quiet, and socially awkward person who has a range of emotional issues and problems that I am still working through. I will be damned if this is the same fate for my daughter. Break the cycle and be smarter and better for your child. They are our future, and they should be able to handle the simplest of emotions in a healthy way, not lash out on others or themselves. If you want further reading and research, here are some articles you can check out.