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To Spank Or Not To Spank? Mom Talk

A new study links spanking to mental illness later in life.

Don't underestimate the power of children's desire to please their parents, I read somewhere in a parenting book. For the past two years, that has been my key parenting tool. Now, a study claims to show that spanking children leads to mental illness. That is no surprise to me.

I've never been a big fan of spanking. A friend once casually announced that she takes a switch to her daughters if they don't do well in school. The girls shape up right quick, she said. I got the chills.

I've never been opposed to a good old fashioned swat on the butt from time to time. It just doesn't seem to be very effective. I also tried slapping Liam's hands. That's a waste, too.

Sometimes, I count to three. However, Liam's 2 years old, so he counts right along with me.

My husband and I endeavor to be consistent. When kids are tired, those aren't teaching moments. We don't waste discipline when putting them to bed. We just put them to bed.

Mostly, though, I use my tone of voice, repetition and follow through. A stern voice and The Look work wonders. For example, when I hear him cutting it up when he should be sleeping, I stomp my way upstairs. Then I dramatically push the door open until it slams something. Instead of putting my hands on the boy, I just stare him down. Silently.

Even more frightening to my son than getting yelled at by Mommy is not getting yelled at by Mommy. I stand, scowl and point. He bows his head, turns his eyes up and sheepishly crawls under the blankets.

Another example is when I hear him from the room below, I thump the walls and holler "go to bed, Liam!" He thinks I'm omniscient. It scares him straight.

When he needs a moment to regroup—and there are plenty of those times—I plop him down on his butt for a time out. He may throw a fit, but he doesn't get up until he's done.

Whenever I have tried spanking him, he has kept on doing the undesired action. It's as if he thrives on the negative attention, too. Every once in a while, he gets a swat to refocus his attention. It just doesn't seem to work out for this toddler. The swift sit accomplishes the same goal.

Instead, we tell him all day long what the expectation is. A lot of praise goes a long way. "Good job" is a lot more powerful than a belt. Then when Daddy comes home, we discuss all the good jobs the boy did throughout the day. The discussion layers in more praise. The simple acts of catching him doing good things is the best motivation for good behavior.

I've only had a couple years experience. I realize Liam will change, and my tactics will need to as well. I remember a lengthy public spanking as a 7-year-old. It was humiliating as well as painful. Children grow to hate people who deliver that style of punishment.

So as our children grow up, I will look for manual labor like painting the garage or moving bushes around the yard instead of beatings.

I'm not surprised that spanking is linked to mental illness. But spanking my children? That sounds nuts.

JPauly July 08, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Spanking is much more emotional abuse than physical. A parent who spanks is not in the best of moods and when the child sees this with the pain involved, the emotional fear of will always be there as 'will mommy or daddy' take it to the next level. Also, there goes the message the parent is trying to convey in this process. A parent who has established proper authority will never need to spank the child. Yes, after a hard days work, the restaint with the parent may not be there. This is the hard part about being a parent. My 7 year old daughter looks at a time out as the worse possible thing that could possibly happen to her, including ones that would be short lived. I have established my authority with her, as a parent, and she knows exactly what she could do to lose her liberty. Never have and will never need to spank my children. If this doesn't convince, read the latest studies on the long term harm spanking does to a child. It's time to stop this short term and lazy way of raising a child when there is a need for discipline and start giving some real guidance, where long term benefits for a child are a result.
Verbal Sniper July 08, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Parents nowadays can be charged with battery if they so much as swat their kids.There is always that nosy do gooder who sees a parent disciplining their child and feels it's their duty to notify the police.I'm talking about a light swat not a beating,let's make that clear.I've seen kids with no discipline trample over their parents like a doormat.This is why we have generations of selfish,self- centered,self-serving,entitled brats.
John Roberts July 09, 2012 at 04:54 PM
You don't have to teach your kids violence can happen to you if you get smart,lay on the ground and kick your feet,or fight with your elders...A police officer is always willing to taser,shoot,beat them with a batton,then drag them in front of a man that will lock them in a cage for Years at a time or life...Keep telling your self it's just a phase and not correct your kids behavior...Also never talk about your kid like they are not sitting in the room..Kids have a tendency to play the roll...I don't know why he keeps climbing the counter as you sit in the kitchen talking to your friend while you both watch the kid climb....Parent your children..even if they don't like you in the end....You were never friends or should of never been.
Olddeegee July 09, 2012 at 05:42 PM
So...praise the Lord and beat your kids? You've got a real priorities problem.
Justin Bronzell August 05, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Let me say this: I am 14 years old and have no problem with spanking or hand slapping. I was spanked and had my hands slapped when I was little and it made me realize "Hey, these things I do get me spanked. They're bad. I shouldn't do them." I have no mental illness, and actually no problems of any sort. I don't fear either of my parents. I love them, respect them, and our parent-child relationship couldn't be better. So I am evidence that spanking works and doesn't make your kids hate you. I say go ahead and spank your kids, if you feel that the situation calls for it. If you have found a method that works for you without spanking, then go with that.. If you can amend the situation without spanking, then do that in stead. But spanking is a viable option that works.

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