So, you came to your wit’s end and spanked your child. Now what? First, the facts – you’re not alone. In fact, around 65% of parents in the US approve of the practice of spanking their child. This figure has been the norm since 1990. But in practice, only 50% of Americans spank their child. So, even if a majority of Americans approve of the practice only half of American parents actually spank their child. Nonetheless, if you have to ask “I spanked my child, now what?” then you can take refuge in the fact you are very normal to feel guilty about it, and very normal to admit that you’ve done it.
I was spanked so many times growing up I stopped counting. I remember the worst spanking came after mom got me a brand new pair of white shoes for a school event. (I’d begged her to give me the new pair after my old ones turned yellow.) After opening the box I decided to wear them inside the house to “break them in”. It started raining, so I did what what any 10-year old would do – I went out to play in the rain with my friends. We played in the street, we played in the mud – hey, don’t judge if you haven’t tried it lately! Needless to say, I got the spanking of my life when I got home because she said I had “ruined her trust and wasted bucks.” Then, my mom made me wear the dirty pair at the school event anyway.
While some parents might disapprove of my mom’s action, I think it wasn’t neglect and it wasn’t bad. But that’s just my opinion.
But still, that’s a lot of red bums and missing flip-flops.
Anti-spanking groups have a point. They’ll make you feel it’s an evil thing to do, that a special place in hell is reserved for those who answer “Yes, I spank my child.” These groups quote the American Psychological Association who say spanking can lead to lasting psychological harm for kids. According to that Association, kids who were spanked growing up have a greater chance of becoming anti-social. Worse, they are more likely to develop aggression and mental health issues.
My mom later told me she’d tried every method of discipline already? What about these parents who feel they “have no other choice”?
The answer is that parents must always be strategic in discipline.
Instead of taking unrealistic approaches to parenting, make sure that positives arise from spanking – and watching television and playing games on iPhones and computers, for that matter. Everything we do with our kids can have dire consequences when a positive, constructive approach is not taken. Neglectful parenting – both active and passive – leads to problems for children.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s all unicorns and rainbows when it comes to spanking. I agree with the APA that it can lead to psychological harm to kids when done badly, but so does every badly implemented discipline strategy. Screwing up your kid takes more than spanking – it takes neglectful parenting.
If fewer and fewer folks are spanking their kids, then why is anti-social behavior, aggression and mental health issues still at an all-time high? Don’t blame spanking.
Television has violence that can lead to your kids developing aggression. Letting your kid play games on an iPhone or computer tablet will lead her or him to be anti-social, for instance.
My mom spanked me to enforce the idea that money doesn’t grow on trees. I have to appreciate and take care of material things because money was used to buy them. Most importantly, someone who loves me very much worked very hard to deal with my neglectful ways. She was keen to demonstrate that neglect is not acceptable, that money doesn’t grow on trees and that I had to be more careful. Harsh, yes. I needed harsh.