An article published in the July journal Pediatrics has parents all over buzzing about whether or not to spank their kids.
The findings of this major study indicated that physical punishment during childhood is associated with mental health issues such as anxiety,depression, and even substance abuse in adulthood.
No kidding. Being spanked or hit by parents can lead to nothing good except perhaps a temporary feeling of power and control. Yes, I am totally against any form of spanking, hitting, pushing, or shoving your kids, even when they are behaving badly. This viewpoint is not just because physical punishment is associated with a more difficult and painful adulthood.
Let me explain myself a little more with 5 points that will hopefully bring you over to my side of the fence on this issue:
1. Hitting your kids makes a distressing situation even more upsetting. Please tell me when spanking ever made your kids feel anything but fear. Do you really want your kids to be afraid of you? We want our kids to respect us and admire us but do we really need fear in that equation?
2. No child ever starts the day wanting to be "bad." Kids get exhausted, hungry, have meltdowns, and may not listen to their parents. Yep, they may be behaving badly but I can assure you that most of the time this is not their intent. They much rather have your approval than disapproval. Hitting them only makes them feel worse about themselves and we don't want our kids to be thinking of themselves as losers, do we?
3. You are your child's most important role model. So, it should come as no surprise that kids who are hit are more likely to hit their peers. Do we really want our kids to have aggression as a go-to behavior?
4. When you hit your kids they feel a deep sense of shame. Shame is one of the most intolerable emotions. We don't want our kids to have to deal with intolerable emotions now, do we? And when they grow up they will feel this same sense of shame every time they make a mistake. YIKES!
5. As a parent you are supposed to be your kids' cheerleader and a member of their fan club. I am not suggesting that you applaud when they behave badly but you may want to try a hands off approach ,literally, by giving your child a time-out or some cooling down time. This will probably be beneficial for both you and your child.
I believe in 'hands off our kids' unless we want to hug them. There are many alternatives to physical punishment such as rewarding positive behaviors, time-outs, losing a privilege, making sure your kid is getting enough rest, etc.
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Barbara Greenberg and Jennifer Powell-Lunder are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.