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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spaking or not Spaking American Parents Setting the Example

A colleague mentioned today an article in the Washington Post which spoke to the fact that adults often parent their children they way they were parented. Millennials Like To Spank Their Kids Just As Much As Their Parents Did. Dr. Dorothy  Law Nolte wrote it best in her poem  Children Live What They Learn. Studies have shown over and over it is the consistency of day in day out living which shapes the lives of children. If you would like your children to grow up and not spank then do not spank them. The issue becomes then how do I discipline them?

The answer is you make different choices. So, here is my take. There is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is the use of rules and consequences to teach children to have self-control. Punishment is about paying for wrong doing. The motivation of discipline is teaching. The motivation of punishment is anger and control. This is going to be a point where I differ from most of my colleague; spanking is not the problem. The problem is that spanking is used as punishment and not as discipline.

When I teach this concept in my classes, I say never spank when you are angry. If the child deserves a spanking  when you are angry; they will deserve one when you are calm. The response I most often get? If I did not spank when I am angry I would never spank." My response then? Are you disciplining or are you punishing?

Punishing is not about helping your child learn. This is why so many feel so strongly against spanking. The truth is punishment is not effective because the motive is not about learning it is about making the child feel badly about what they have done. The problem with punishment is there is no choice to do right. Only control and anger of doing something wrong. I ultimately think this is abuse.Please note I did not say spanking is abuse. I said the use of punishment is abusive. If your child does something wrong and in anger you tell them they are not allowed to watch their favorite TV program because you want them to feel bad about what they did; that is also abuse.

Discipline is about knowing the boundaries what it is okay to do and what is not acceptable. It is also knowing that if I chose to do what is not acceptable there will be consequences. This requires lots of discussion, lots off reminders, and lots of support to remind children. Once children know and understand the rules. It is then about helping them to chose to follow them because it is the right thing to do. It is mainly about teaching our children to chose to do right. I encourage parents to sit down as a family and talk about the rules and consequences before using discipline. Give the whole family a chance to have a say in both the rules and the consequences. Then create a family covenant to hang on the wall in both written form for older children and picture form for younger children. Then to review those rules and consequences on a regular basis. (By the way the family covenant is for everyone. If the rule is do not leave your soda can out put it in the recycle bin. Consequence: if you do you take the trash out for a week. If Dad leaves his can out, he takes the trash out for a week).

Now if we are talking about spanking here is where the difference comes in. If the family decided a serious offence requires a spanking then a spanking can be used. As long as the four rules of discipline are followed. The four rules of discipline are.


  1. Sit down together and discuss the broken rule and the consequence.
  2. Discuss the situation and help the child to see how they came to make the wrong decision and what they can do to chose the better choice next time.
  3. Apply the consequence
  4. Renew the relationship
Number four is the most important part of the process of discipline. It is the main factor of the difference between discipline and punishment. The relationship between parent and child is the most important thing. Therefore, if I have to apply the concept of discipline I do not want your to feel badly I want you to learn. Because my goal is to help and love you once the lesson is applied I want you to feel better. So, I will read you a story, go for a walk, play basketball, sit down for a tea party, go for ice cream, or simply cuddle on the couch and watch a movie. I will let you know you are precious and important even when you make a mistake.. 



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