How parents can wean themselves
from spanking their children
Many conservative para-church organizations strongly advocate spanking
children -- sometimes as early as 18 months of age. Some imply that the
alternative to spanking is no discipline at all. In fact, anti-spanking
advocates suggest that there are many methods of discipline of which some are
more effective than corporal punishment without the adverse effects of spanking.
Pediatrician Shari Barkin says: "Discipline means to teach, not to punish."
Some child psychologists and pediatricians who oppose corporal punishment
Don't discipline in anger. Try to take time to cool down.
Set limits on the child's behavior. Communicate them to the child
effectively. Stick to them continuously.
Explain to the child what the consequences will be if they exceed a
Match the removal of privileges directly with the bad behavior. If a
child draws on the wall with her/his crayons, remove the crayons rather than
his/her television privileges.
Above all, be consistent so that the child
knows precisely what the limits are and that the limits are constant.
Use many more positive reinforcements when the child is behaving well,
than discipline when the child is misbehaving. Praise the child when he/she
is being good.
Discipline children by removing some of their privileges or by using
timeouts. Spanking often produces faster results. However, corporal
punishment generally causes the child to repeat the unacceptable behavior
more quickly, when compared to using timeouts and removal of privileges.
Always explain clearly to children why they are being punished.
Restrict timeouts to children who are three years old or older. Younger
children find them confusing and frustrating; distracting them may work
better. Limit timeouts to three minutes or less. Put him in a "naughty
chair" instead of sending them to their room. Otherwise they will associate
their room with punishment.
When communicating your displeasure with a child's actions, kneel down
to their level, talk to them directly, maintain eye contact, and talk in a
normal voice. 1 and other sources
The following are some random recommendations from parents that we have
collected from a variety of forums:
Never make a threat that you are unwilling to
follow through on.
Spanking an 18 month old is child abuse, even
if James Dobson of Focus on the Family recommends that corporal punishment
at this age is OK.
Accept a level of performance that is not
perfect. A 5 year-old-child's idea of a tidy room may not be the same as
Speed is of the essence. Try to discipline a
child within a few minutes of the misbehavior, or the child may not connect
the action with the punishment.
The most effective training tool has been
found to be unpredictable positive reinforcement, rather than predictable
Two helpful resources:
Watching two TV programs can be very helpful:
Nanny 911 on the Fox channel features a group of specialist
"Armed with the dos and don'ts of child-rearing and possibility an
umbrella or two, the English über-nannies
aren't afraid to crack the whip on everything from appalling table
manners to raging temper tantrums. The nannies will help exhausted
parents tackle the chaos in their home and work their incredible 'Marry
Poppins' - like magic to transform the terrible tots." 2
Supernanny on ABC features Jo Frost:
"Her simple methods stress consistency, communication and reasonable
consequences for poor behavior, all delivered with loving firmness. She
emphasizes the importance of spelling out the new rules of the household
to children in advance, as well as explaining the consequences for
infractions. She also candidly points out to parents where they need to
be more decisive, more flexible or even how they may need to adjust
their expectations of a child's readiness for certain behaviors. For
example, graduating a child to a seat at the dinner table instead of a
high chair may be long overdue and provide an easy fix to mealtime
misbehavior. When parents witness Jo's results and -- even better --
achieve them on their own, they are truly believers in the Supernanny
way. Best of all, children and adults alike can enjoy the lasting
benefits of a more harmonious family life." 3
A recommended list of books for violence-free discipline:
K. Smith, the wife of a pediatrician, gave a negative review on the
Amazon.com web site of psychologist
James Dobson's book "The New Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence."
She referred to it with the comment "This is child abuse." She wrote:
"Discipline is loving guidance, not corporal punishment, where the child
in a demeaning and destructive way wrongly learns that violence is a form of
acceptable communication and guidance, by parents. There are no benefits to
hit a child - It is destructive for a child's self worth, self esteem, and
demeaning and disrespectful. Children have feelings and emotions as adults.
It is extremely unfair and disgraceful of parents to misuse their power on
weaker people - our children - who are defenseless and who don't have their
own voice. Your child will be confused and think "Why is my mother and
father whom I love and trust inflicting pain on me?" Hitting a child, will
separate the bond between parents and a child, and will only make the child
fearful of their parents. In addition, hitting a child won't teach and guide
a child towards better behavior in a constructive and communicative way. By
slapping someone, what do you learn? Nothing - only that it is okay to be
antisocial and misbehave and to be violent."
She recommends the following books on child discipline: