To spank or not to spank your children?

We live in a society where violence is the norm. You just have to watch the news locally and internationally to see that the consequences of violence usually result in reactions based on fear, resentment and anger. Force has become the order of the day and yet it is rarely a lasting solution, often spiralling out of control. When a parent spanks a child are they standing in their power or giving away their power? What are the effects on a child? Are there other more effective strategies for disciplining children and why should we care? Ultimately, the idea behind parental discipline is to bring up a self-disciplined child who knows the difference between right and wrong and making good and bad choices.
We must empower our children to make the best choices for themselves moving forward and it starts in early childhood with a positive parenting strategy around discipline and boundary setting, rather than a reactive one. Of course there are moments when children can drive you stark raving mad, and because we live in a highly pressurised, time-starved world we, ourselves, are often living on the edge and are close to being at the end of our tether. Kids can sometimes be the final straw in your day but beware – don’t take your frustrations out on your children.
You need to keep perspective if you want to grow a parent-child relationship based on respect and trust and not disrespect and fear. When we spank children we are role modelling that hitting and violence are an effective solution to conflict, boundary setting and behaviour modification. Before going any further, let’s be clear – it’s one thing to give a young child a single firm smack together with a very firm “No!” or “Stop!” when they are in physical danger such as running across a busy road, touching a hot iron, or sticking their finger in an electrical socket, but it’s quite another to give a child a hiding – multiple smacks with the hand or a slipper, or strikes with a belt, baton, wooden spoon or cane.
You might get an immediate result from hitting your child – it’s often the shock value that stops them in their tracks more than the physical act of hitting them, but that’s where it ends. Regular hidings often breed resentment, rebellion, shame and depression, according to the research, say nothing about teaching ineffective life skills and the guilt and remorse that parents often feel afterwards.
This is not to say that children shouldn’t experience consequences for unruly or disobedient behaviour, but there are other tools that can have better long-term results.
Follow through. Children need to experience the consequences of their choices. Don’t lecture, nag or threaten because then children will never know when you are being serious or not. Remember you are their parent and not their friend. It’s okay for them not to like you and to get mad with you from time-to-time. They always come round and get glad again. Stand in your power by empowering them to make effective choices and, remember, they are watching, waiting and learning from your decisions. The Public Eye will be covering articles on parenting by various experts. This week’s column is by renowned parenting expert, Nikki Bush, who is also an inspirational speaker and best-selling author. Every week, we will cover an aspect on parenting.

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