Parents must know that while spanking may work in the very near term to stop a child from misbehaving, it ultimately backfires. For starters, spanking teaches your child that the bigger, stronger person in a disagreement always wins. And that in order to make your point, you must strike another person. The irony is that children are often spanked for hitting or kicking another child.
An article by Lisa Belkin in this morning’s New York Times Magazine Blog, “When Is Spanking Chid Abuse?” shares the findings of Alan E, Kazdin research. Mr. Kazdin is the Director of the Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic at Yale and reports that 63 percent of parents physically discipline their 1-to 2-year-olds. I find this statistic staggering and alarming. In a piece Mr Kazdin wrote for Slate, he says there’s “a strong natural tendency to escalate the frequency and severity of punishment.” Here is the part of what he says that I wish every parent would understand.
“The negative effects on children include increased aggression and noncompliance—the very misbehaviors that most often inspire parents to hit in the first place—as well as poor academic achievement, poor quality of parent-child relationships, and increased risk of a mental-health problem (depression or anxiety, for instance). High levels of corporal punishment are also associated with problems that crop up later in life, including diminished ability to control one’s impulses and poor physical-health outcomes (cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease). Plus, there’s the effect of increasing parents’ aggression, and don’t forget the consistent finding that physical punishment is a weak strategy for permanently changing behavior.”
I have to believe that if parents really knew what was at risk with corporal punishment, they would work harder to seek an effective solution. Stay posted for a seminar on this very topic.