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An Argument Against Spanking as a Method of Disciplining Children

Many parents swear by spanking their children, saying it corrects bad behavior and teaches children right and wrong. However, is it really healthy for a parent to spank their child? The Natural Child Project says no.

Punishment interferes with the bond between parent and child, as it is not human nature to feel loving toward someone who hurts us. The true spirit of cooperation which every parent desires can arise only through a strong bond based on mutual feelings of love and respect. Punishment, even when it appears to work, can produce only superficially good behavior based on fear, which can only take place until the child is old enough to resist. In contrast, cooperation based on respect will last permanently, bringing many years of mutual happiness as the child and parent grow older.

It is true that building relationships with people who hurt us is not natural, and when it does happen it is considered unhealthy. So why are we encouraging our children to enter these kinds of relationships? The Natural Child Project also states, “If a child receives little parental attention except when being punished, this will further merge the concepts of pain and pleasure in the child’s mind. A child in this situation will have little self-esteem, believing he deserves nothing better.” This is a very sad situation to put a child in. They have done nothing wrong; they are children and they will act out. It is the parent’s job to guide the child peacefully in a positive direction to build a strong character and healthy view of right and wrong.

Not only can spanking your children lead to twisted views of reality, but it can cause behavioral problems later in life as well. Eric P. Slade assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health states, “Spanking children under the age of 2 puts those children into a higher risk group for behavioral problems later.” This particular study took survey results of 1,966 children nationwide from ethnically diverse households. The mothers were asked about any behavior problems their children were having.

Researchers were surprised to find that of those with behavioral problems, 39 percent of all children younger than 2 had been spanked at least once in the previous week. Many studies have found this connection linking spanking to behavioral problems in children. So if the behavior is what we are trying to fix, why are we spanking these children? There are many alternatives to spanking which have proven to be much more effective. Positive Parenting suggests, “Use Logical Consequences. Consequences that are logically related to the behavior help teach children responsibility.” Positive Parenting gives this example, “a child who breaks a neighbor’s window and his parent says, “I see you’ve broken the window, what will you do to repair it?” using a kind but firm tone of voice. The child decides to mow the neighbor’s lawn and wash his car several times to repay the cost of breaking the window. What does the child learn in this situation? That mistakes are an inevitable part of life and it isn’t so important that he made the mistake but that he takes responsibility to repair the mistake.”

In conclusion, spanking children has been proven to not only hurt the child, but promote bad behavior later on in life when good behavior is much more important. On top of this, the relationship between the child and parent is often damaged and I simply don’t see the point of risking all of this when there are many calmer, more effective alternatives.

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