Many parents still believe in “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” despite warnings from experts that spanking causes more harm than good.
The American Journal of Family Psychology published a study that based on research that had been carried out for over 50 years on over 160,000 kids. It revealed that spanking is not suitable for our children.
Researchers from the Universities of Michigan, Austin, and Texas found out that spanked kids were more likely to display defiance towards their parents as they continued to grow, and that it could lead to issues such as aggression, anti-social behavior, cognitive difficulties, and mental health problems.
Data from the study revealed that spanking is the least effective method of getting through to kids, even in the short term. In fact, spanking worsened the child’s behavior in most cases.
Elizabeth Gersoff, one of the researchers, insisted that using this kind of disciplining technique is quite detrimental to children. And to leave no room for doubt, the research also studied adults who were punished in this manner as kids, and the results were disturbing.
According to the research, many adults that were spanked as kids tended to display antisocial behavior or some mental health disorder. They were also more susceptible to depression and anxiety. The takeaway here is that physically disciplining your child has the same effects as subjecting them to physical abuse.
I know you’ve heard people say, or might have even said yourself, “I was spanked and turned out okay.” Researchers insist that these people turned out alright in spite of it and not because of it.
What can you do instead of spanking?
1. Try and Maintain Your Composure
Often, when parents spank their children, it is because they are feeling overwhelmed. This explains why you are less likely to spank if you’re in a calm mood. Whenever you are feeling upset with your child, first take a few deep breaths to detach your emotions from the situation. This way, you will analyze the situation more objectively and handle it competently.
2. Teach the Child
Make the situation a learning moment. If you’re able to keep your cool and explain to them the gravity of their actions they may learn something from the incident.
3. Be Specific
Don’t beat around the bush, be straightforward and communicate to your child exactly what you want from them. Thus, instead of yelling at them about what they shouldn’t be doing, be direct and tell them what they should be doing. They respond best to direct instructions.
4. Take Away Their Things
If they insist on repeating the same mistake, take away the source of the problem. For instance, if they keep throwing their toys, confiscate those toys. This should let them know that there are consequences of not listening to you.
5. Be a Role Model
Be the kind of person that you want them to be. It is not about what you say, but about what you do. If you insist that they wear their seatbelt, make sure you’re buckled up. If you want them to keep their room clean, make sure your room is also in order. Children notice a lot more than you think.
6. Remove them from the situation
If a situation or activity has overwhelmed your child and they are exhibiting unacceptable behavior, remove them from the activity immediately. Give them a timeout to regain their composure.
7. Say No
Refuse to indulge them in their favorite things after they have been up to some mischief. It can be a tall order to say no to your child, but you have to do it, so they know that only good behavior is rewarded.
8. Be Consistent
You should not punish for bad behavior one time, then overlook it the next. Children need consistency in their lives. You as the adult has to give it to them. A child who knows that if they do something wrong, they’ll be punished 100 percent of the time, will not take the chance of you letting them slide.
9. Remove Yourself from the Situation
Some children are stubborn and will test you regularly. This is what often leads to spanking. To avoid this, remove yourself from the situation to regain your calm, then address the problem.
10. Seek professional help
If your child display any of these signs you might be in over your head and need professional help:
- When your child puts him/herself and others in danger.
- When you child’s siblings are frightened of them.
- When your child hurts animals “for fun.”
- When your child’s explosions of anger are frequent.
- When your child breaks and damages things.
- When your child’s behavior consistently gets worse despite your consistent attempts to control their behavior.
- When you’re at the end of your rope and feel more anxious and depressed.
The most important thing to remember is that children make mistakes. That’s the nature of being a child, and that’s where you come in with a level head and not with corporal punishment in mind.