I can’t believe that the majority of parents in the USA still advocate spanking. Why do people think it’s okay to hit a kid but it’s not alright to hit your spouse, unfair boss, irritating neighbor, or even the neighbor’s dog. A recent article in the Washington Post highlighting data about corporal punishment from Childtrends.org got me going.
In 2016, 76% of men and 66% of women agreed that it is sometimes necessary to give a child a “good, hard spanking”, a drop by 20% since 1986 that flattened out since 1991. Men are more likely to spank than women, as well as non-Hispanic black women and men. College-educated women and men were less likely to endorse spanking as a form of discipline. The majority of states prohibit corporal punishment in child care settings, and it is unlawful in public schools in 31 states. Interestingly, spanking is legally prohibited at home and schools in 46 countries.
People still choose to spank their children despite good data that shows it to be associated with 13 harmful outcomes . These include aggression, impaired cognitive ability, lower self-esteem, mental health problems, antisocial behavior, and more negative relationships with parents. Research also shows a direct link between spanking and the chances of that child ending up in abusive relationships, including young adult physical dating violence. Have I convinced you yet to reconsider your use of corporal punishment?
Most parents I have counseled continue to fall back on spanking because they haven’t learned other methods of discipline. Parents today seem to be more tired and stressed than parents in the past, and in the majority of households both parents are working. Plus, they bring their work home with them, causing parents to feel more drained and kids to feel left out due to distracted parents. Parents seem to yoyo between being too indulgent and not following through with agreements and losing their tempers and lashing out in anger, including spanking.
For the new year, I encourage you to take a parenting class, and attend it together if you are married. My wife Anne and I taught a class called Redirecting Children’s Behavior for years; click on that link for class availability in your area. Read parenting books like Food Fights and Bedtime Battles: A Working Parents Guide to Negotiating Daily Power Struggles that I wrote or Love and Logic and take pieces from each one to incorporate into your discipline model. Educate yourself out of the need for corporal punishment.
There is no excuse to hit a child, ever!
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