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I Don't Understand GD...

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
I am not a mother yet, but am planning to be after I get married next summer. My fiance and I have discussed many aspects of child-rearing/parenting, one of them being discipline. I think that one should not beat their children, or always resort to threatening/actually spanking a kid. But I see times where a child needs to lovingly be set straight. I was spanked occasionally as a child and I don't believe it hurt me physically or emotionally. What is wrong with an occasional spanking?
post #2 of 38
I'm not a GD expert...heck I hardly ever post over here but I'll describe it how my DH does. Spanking involves ADULT anger. Children don't understand the depth of that. All they see is you're mad and hitting/nurting them. They don't see the "steps" you went through in your head to get to that point. Plus it's humiliating, IMO.
post #3 of 38
I'm going to assume that you are posting because you are genuinely interested in the answer to "What is wrong with an occasional spanking?"

What is wrong, is that
1. it doesn't teach what you want to teach.
2. It totally doesn't consider the reasons for a child's actions. It assumes the worst of intentions.
3. it doesn't create a "working with" attitude. It creates a "parent vs. child" attitude.
4. for one to spank, they have to believe on some level, that kids will choose to misbehave if they are not forced to behave. Iow, kids want to be bad, unless someone makes them be good. That's not the way kids work.
5. it is behaviorism. Behaviorism works on pigeons. It's not the way people work. It completely undermines the innate sociality of people, and the desire of children to behave in a socially acceptable way (they just need some gentle guidance sometimes).
6. It's relied on as a "quick fix". I'd imagine if you are spanking to stop a certain behavior, you are not working on the important aspects of it- the WHY, and "what to do instead"
7. Oh, and it's hitting a child. It's not cool (legal/ok/acceptable) to hit an adult, its even less cool to hit a child.

Some thoughts off the top of my head.
I hope that I am right in assuming that you really are interested, and not just looking to promote the idea that spanking is ok. That's not ok here.
post #4 of 38
First, welcome to MDC and the Gentle Discipline forum, I hope you can take the time to read, as there is a wealth of information on these pages

I would like to also point you in the directions of our forum guidelines, particularly this:
Please appreciate that this forum is not a place to uphold or advocate physical punishment of children. Personal preferences for and encouragement of use of physical punishment are inappropriately posted here. Posts of that nature will be edited by the member upon request or will be removed.

Please feel free to discuss your problems and needs with the intent to learn more about Gentle Discipline.

Now to answer your question "What is wrong with an occasional spanking?"

For me it's rather simple. Spanking is hitting. I would never hit an adult to 'teach' them. I certainly wouldn't hit a child. There are so many ways to teach and guide our children that do not include the fear, pain, and shame that hitting inflicts.
post #5 of 38
Originally Posted by asoulunbound
But I see times where a child needs to lovingly be set straight.
Lovingly set straight involves helping a child to do the right thing. Taking away temptation, giving information, finding a mutually agreeable solution, finding an acceptable alternative to whatever negative behavior you are dealing with, knowing that kids impulses are legitimate- and they just need to learn the socially acceptable ways to express those impulses.
I've yet to deal with a situation where ds didn't respond well to my guidance to help him to do the socially acceptable thing. He's almost 2. We don't use any type of punishment. The only times he hasn't responded well, was when I dealt with a situation harshly. But it doesn't take much for me to fix that either.
post #6 of 38
I don't mean for this to sound flippant, but if your husband or say, an elderly family member needed to be "lovingly set straight," would you think to accomplish this by striking them?

Sometimes it takes a little bit of a mental shift to recognize that what is commonly called spanking, is really hitting. No one deserves to be hit, even if they're young or small.

Another thing to ponder is, what exactly will a child learn if they are disciplined with spanking? To fear being hit? To do what mom/dad says or else?
post #7 of 38
There is a lot wrong with occasionally hitting another person.

Numerous studies, tons of research, and -- in my opinion, common sense -- show that the harm of hitting kids far outweighs any "benefits." The only "benefit" I see is that the parent vents her/his anger and the child may instantly and temporarily comply (out of fear). But the longterm damage of the hitting is permanent.

Much research shows that hitting kids raises the risk that the kids will become more aggressive, less social and chronically defiant.

Hitting is also associated with increased delinquency, lower self-esteem and more difficulty in learning right from wrong (after all, hitting teaches nothing other than that it hurts to be hit and that someone bigger than you can hurt you). Hitting, in my opinion, also leads to an increased risk of child abuse. This might not apply to YOU personally but I see spankings turning into serious abuse all the time in my job (I am a prosecutor)

Also, hitting condones violence. That is a message I would never want to send in my home. I want my children to learn peaceful methods of conflict resolution. So we are violence-free. It IS possible to raise happy, healthy, law-abiding children without hitting. So why would one hit if there are so many risks of harm and no benefits?
post #8 of 38
Originally Posted by Deva33mommy
6. It's relied on as a "quick fix". I'd imagine if you are spanking to stop a certain behavior, you are not working on the important aspects of it- the WHY, and "what to do instead"
: exactly! I often see it used that way, as a quick fix. The problem is, it doesn't really fix anything.
post #9 of 38
Another reminder that advocating or defending physical punishment is NOT allowed here.
Please appreciate that this forum is not a place to uphold or advocate physical punishment of children. Personal preferences for and encouragement of use of physical punishment are inappropriately posted here. Posts of that nature will be edited by the member upon request or will be removed.
post #10 of 38
I'm cutting and pasting what I have posted before in this forum. Hope that is okay:


1) How far should parents be willing to go in order to ensure good behavior? If spanking is not adequate, most people agree that it is not okay to take more severe physical measures crossing over into brutality. Why is okay to cross from verbal techniques into seemingly mild violence like slapping or spanking? How does a parent decide how much or how little violence is worth the goal of good behavior? When spanking is not enough, what does a spanking parent try next? Why not start with that?

2) When parents choose to spank, they often cut themselves off from the opportunity to develop more creative and deeper reaching discipline methods. But by choosing not to spank, we are forced to do some serious reading, thinking and searching. We must find new ways of relating not just to our children, but also to everyone. If your upbringing was not gentle, then the opportunity to take this journey can be difficult. Difficult -- but potentially very rewarding. By not spanking, you are opening yourself up to a new sort of growth.

3) Spanking a child teaches them to behave out of fear, and puts distance between parent and child. They are afraid to earn a spanking. Therefore, most children will try to hide their mistakes and poor behavior. A child who is not afraid of of punishment is more likely to tell his parents when he finds himself in trouble, and ask for help.

4) A child who is spanked learns to believe that hitting is sometimes an acceptable way to solve a problem. His parents have modeled that belief, and no matter what they *tell* the kid about hitting, they have *shown* him that its okay and that it works.

5) A child who is spanked learns to be controlled by external forces. How will he learn to control himself? How will he learn to care about being good for the sake of goodness, and not to avoid punishment?

6) Spanking hurts and degrades a child. Not matter how it is framed, this is always the child's immediate experience. In order to accept spanking, a parent must believe on some level that a child somehow needs or benefits from occasional pain and degradation.
post #11 of 38
I was a very verbal child from an early age, and as a result of that (I believe), I have clearer memories from my early years than most people do. That means that I remember a number of occasions when I was spanked at age 2 or 3. In every case, I didn't believe that I was in the wrong, and I still don't. In one case, I was playing with a plastic bag, and my dad spanked me to instill a lesson of "safety." Problem is, they'd already explained to me about not putting bags over my head, and I understood that, and I WASN'T putting it over my head - so all the spanking accomplished was to make me resent them for not trusting me. On another occasion, my brother and I were stuck in an inner tube together and I panicked and bit him. They spanked me and sent me to my room, with no sympathy for the fact that I really hadn't meant to hurt my brother, I just freaked out. Again, it accomplished nothing except to make me resent them.

Some people here say that spanking is inherently abusive. I'm not sure I agree with that, but the key thing to me is that it doesn't *have* to be abusive to be a bad idea. I don't think that it accomplishes what it's meant to accomplish. All it does is encourage an adversarial relationship between parent and child, and teach the child that the parent doesn't trust or respect him.
post #12 of 38
If I were you, I would do some research. Honestly, I felt the same way before ds was born. After doing lots of reading, I am very against hitting children.

I was also spanked as a child. I don't feel I was damaged by it, but it certainly didn't teach me anything. I remember being spanked, but I don't remember why. However, I remember, in detail, having things explained to me. It worked much better. Spanking, as well as the other types of discipline that were used in my childhood, definitely hurt my relationship with my mother. I was very rebellious.

"Natural Family Living" by Peggy O'mara has some stuff about discipline. There is also "The Discipline Book" by Dr. Sears, which I don't completely agree with although it has info about why not to spank. My favorite is "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn. I thought it sounded too permissive before I read it, but it's very eye opening. I also checked one out at the library called "The Case Against Spanking." I can't remember the author, but it has lots of info which was backed up with research.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend spanking.

It's great that you're looking into this.
post #13 of 38
I was spanked exactly three times as a child. ONCE I deserved it. (I ditched school and caused a huge search for me)

Twice I did not, and I remember each spanking I ever got. One for being brought home by the police. I WAS TWO YEARS OLD. Now, eactly who's fault is it that I was lost????? I still owe my MOm a spanking for that one. Once I fell asleep in a tent, and didn't go home. A simple "Don't do that again" would have worked fine. SO, do you want your child to remember a spanking from 40 years ago?

The spankings didn't bother me so much. But, looking back, it was the screaming lectures and the threats that I hated. The did nothing but make me realize how unfair my parents were. I did not learn a thing other than how not to get caught by my psychotic Mother.

So, in essence, I am saying that the screaming, the threats and the spankings did not teach me a thing. The only reinforced my attitude.

When my daughter was born, people told me to
"Let her cry"
"Leave her with a babysitter at least once a week"
"Slap her hand"
"Smack her mouth"<--This I actually did several times.
"Don't hold her too much"
The advice went on and on....

But, while I thought I would be one of those hard A$$ parents, I found that when she was born, I wasn't. I could not spank her. I could not let her cry. I carried her all the time.

And I have an excellent child (lazy, but otherwise a great kid)

I feel like spanking is just wrong. I can't say exactly why, it just feels SO wrong to me. I also don't scream. Because I learned from my Mom that it just breeds resentment.

I don't agree with everything involved with gentle discipline. But, If this board had been available to me 13 years ago, I might have been even more gentle. I just parented her the way I felt right.
post #14 of 38
An occasional spanking is typically only delivered when a behavior is so frustrating to an adult that they feel they have to do something and the only thing they know to do is hit the child. Hitting is not discipline. Discipline teaches a child. If you believe that it is discipline you should be able to list some very concrete reasons why it is that do not include the child stopping the behavior so you won't hurt them. That does teach, but I don't think teaching the child that if they annoy you you will hurt their body should really be considered teaching. Spanking may make a child stop doing the behavior while they are around you, though I remember it just made me hurt and I lashed out more in anger. If the child gets used to it they won't care anymore if they do get hit and that leaves you in a very hard position.

Also, most people don't have the heart to hit small children as a consistent form of discipline and consistency in discipline is very important for small children. Many daycares manage very large classes of children without even using time-out (this is true for the one I work at), and I feel that parents should strive to be better than their child care worker when it comes to knowing and teaching their child not worse, as is the case of many of the kids who play out spanking games when they are at daycare and school.
post #15 of 38
Originally Posted by nextcommercial
I was spanked exactly three times as a child. ONCE I deserved it. (I ditched school and caused a huge search for me)
Your parents were not acting out of self defense. No way you deserved to be hit, mama.
post #16 of 38
Originally Posted by secretresistance
Your parents were not acting out of self defense. No way you deserved to be hit, mama.
Yes, but, apparently the entire town of Arlington heights wanted to spank me. It was probably the lesser of all the evils.
post #17 of 38
Originally Posted by nextcommercial
Yes, but, apparently the entire town of Arlington heights wanted to spank me. It was probably the lesser of all the evils.
Ok, I'm completely anti-spanking, but that made me chuckle a little bit
post #18 of 38
undesirable behavior = the expression of an unmet need .

Knowing that, why on earth would you hit a person for needing something?
post #19 of 38
Spanking gives the parent the satisfaction of knowing they did something about the inappropriate behavior. It doesn't help the child behave appropriately. People are so used to thinking that spanking is a way to correct behavior, that they can't see that the behavior hasn't been corrected.

When I was a kid, I got spanked for being "mouthy." But I'm still mouthy, so being spanked didn't stop me. When my son is mouthy, my parents ask me why I let him get away with it, but explaining to him that I don't like his tone and helping him use a nicer tone isn't "letting him get away with it." It still works to correct the problem.

My point is that spanking doesn't work. I see my nieces and nephews get spanked all of the time, and then repeat the behavior they got spanked for. It just doesn't work.

And hitting anyone, especially a child, is wrong.
post #20 of 38
Why would you want to inflict pain on someone you love? Dont we want to keep them free of physical (and emotional) pain? Dont we hold them when they get a boo-boo? So why cause pain?

This really hits home with me. I was spanked. The swats on the butts didn't hurt that much physically, but it left emotional scars. I learned to behave out of fear. "Do this, OR ELSE"

It was the getting hit with a belt by my dad on my bare but while being told to bend over at 2 years old that did the worst damage. Yes, it left welts. I wasn't even guilty of the supposive crime (playing with mothers make up in the middle of the night). (my brother was the guilty one, but we both got it since I happened to wake up and be walking to the bathroom at the time.) My brother was 4 at the time) We were then sent to our rooms for several hours ALONE to cry out in pain. What hurts the most, is that I was told that he never wanted me to forget it. Well... I never did forget it. It is now 25 years later. I can still not forgive him. I never felt the same way about him since.

After hitting us with the belts, any time we misbehaved or refused to do homework or whatever he threatened us with the same punishment for many years after. He hit my brother with the belt again when he was in 4th grade (same manner, bending over on his bare butt) b/c he was crying and very frustrated b/c he was having difficulty with his math homework.

Well... Now my brother is 30 years old and an alcoholic. He has trouble keeping relationships. He still lives at home and is overly dependent. (unable to wake himself for work, pack his own lunch, do his laundry, clean his glasses himself, etc. He depends on mother for EVERYTHING) He was made to feel so useless and that he couldn't do anything right. Well... Now he CANT do anything. Dad really taught us how to do things, now didn't he?

What did it teach me? It tought me to be secretive. To never go to my parents when I was in trouble. To fix problems myself, even if I had to risk more trouble to fix the problem. (Doctoring up reportcards to make my grades better. Did I really need to be ashamed that I got a C in math? A little help would have made me better in math, but I feared getting the belt, so better to doctor up my report card. Yes, it worked btw)

I sorry this is so lengthy, but it really "hits" home for me. So hitting your kids can cause a lot of damage. They do remember. Everything you do at 2 years old continues to effect them for many years down the road.

Please think before you hit!!
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