In working to support both parents and teachers in using sound principles of child development in the home and classroom, I hear a lot of concerns.
If I’m hearing about the concern from one person, I can safely assume that there are likely hundreds of others with that same challenge. And if I’m hearing the same concern from several people, that number grows exponentially.
One common struggle I hear about from parents who are working to implement a sound, positive guidance approach in their homes is that they have pushback — either internally or externally — because they’ve chosen to reject spanking in favor of the tools of positive guidance. Tools that are backed by research and data and what we know about how children really learn and grow. When we know better, we do better, right?
But cultural perspectives, habits, and tradition are strong. Strong enough even to give considerable resistance against best practices.
Change is always hard, but it’s particularly hard when you feel like you have that added resistance. It’s like taking on a challenging uphill bicycle climb, only to have someone throw a trailer full of baggage to the back.
Not infrequently, I’ll hear from parents who have turned away from parenting techniques that use spanking and harsh punishments, but struggle in that transformation process, because they’ve been taught that a parent who doesn’t spank, is a parent who doesn’t care. Or they continue to get questions and pressure from other people in their circle who are convinced that if they don’t spank their children, they’re destined to be ruined.
In order to help anyone in that position to have talking points for these difficult conversations, or simply to feel more confident in their own decision, I’m sharing some of my most popular posts on spanking, as well as a few helpful posts for those who are looking to change.
Click on the pink title to read the full post.
Spare the Rod: What Spanking Teaches Children – These are the real lessons kids learn from spanking. Regardless of what we *think* we’re teaching when we spank, these messages come through loud and clear.
Spanking: The Post I Finally Had to Write – I did not want to write this post. It’s a hot-button post for sure.
I serve a variety of people from wide and diverse backgrounds, and as such, my professional work – while it is in sync with my personal beliefs and also reflects the importance of spirituality as it pertains to healthy development — is primarily secular. Additionally, I hesitate to challenge another person’s religious beliefs.
But I often hear from people who have been taught that spanking is a biblical practice. They believe that if they don’t spank, they are disobeying God. This creates a great deal of turmoil for them when they learn that spanking is not supported by research and data on parenting and child development. I’m not claiming to be a spiritual leader or a professional Biblical scholar. But this viewpoint is so prevalent, and so many parents I was trying to help were struggling with this same perspective, that I finally wrote this personal post to explain why I don’t believe the Bible requires us to spank our children.
Now that We’re Talking About “Spanking” – Now and then, high profile cases of child abuse stir the pot of public conversation, bringing up the spanking debate once again. But the fact that we conflate spanking and child abuse in these discussions is a perfect example of why this practice is so dangerous.
“That’s How I Was Raised”… And Other Reasons We Spank Our Kids – This post challenges three common excuses for spanking and explains why this type of reasoning isn’t good enough for our kids.
If I were to add a fourth excuse to this post, it would be, “It works”.
Problem 1: That depends on how you define “working”. If you simply mean that it gets compliance, it may do that. But spanking is associated with many negative outcomes for children as this research review notes. If a parenting tool simply has to get compliance in order to be effective, there is a wide swath of questionable tactics — abuse included — that will get children to be very compliant. We must have a higher standard.
Problem 2: Studies actually show spanking to have diminishing returns. That means that while it may “work” now, it will have to increase in intensity to continue “working” at the same level. Increasing that intensity begins a very dangerous walk on a very fine and precipitous line between punishment and abuse.
Hot Topic: Spanking and the Human Capacity for Change – While I oppose spanking, I also push back on the notion that those who have spanked their children have done irreparable harm. There is always room for change and growth.
The Myth of Perfect Parenting: It’s Never Too Late – On the same note as the above article, this post outlines why it’s never too late for us or for our kids.
What is Positive Guidance, Exactly? – For those looking for a different set of tools, this post explains what positive guidance is and how it can change your family.
How Positive Parenting Shapes the Brain – Trading spanking for a more positive approach? Here’s how that change impacts a child’s brain.
What challenges have you faced as you’ve implemented positive guidance in your parenting? What questions do you have about spanking? I’d love to help!
**I encourage your conversation and realize this is a hot-button issue. Please keep comments respectful. You may disagree without being disagreeable.**