Dear Mr. Dad: I know that spanking is politically incorrect these days, but I don't want kids who are out of control. Is an occasional whack all that bad? If so, what are the alternatives?
A: At one time or another, every parent has been in a situation where the temptation to spank was strong. But the jury is in --- and yes, it's all bad. Spanking, also known as corporal punishment, is worth avoiding for two reasons. First, it doesn't work beyond the short-term, and second, it creates a lot of new problems in the long-term.
Researchers at Columbia University looked at 88 corporal punishment studies and found a definite connection between spanking and 10 negative outcomes, including damaged parent-child relationships, increased potential for aggression, lying, cheating, bullying and depression, as well as a greater chance that the spanked child will physically abuse his or her own children.
Spanking did, however, achieve one thing: immediate compliance. In other words, the child will do what you want in that moment. But what about all the moments to come? That's where the trouble begins. There's also the danger of teaching kids that violence is an acceptable way of dealing with problems and disagreements.
If your ultimate goal is to create autonomous adults --- and if that isn't the goal, what is? --- we should raise children who are not merely disciplined but self-disciplined. Spanking doesn't do the job. Here are some tried and true discipline methods that work better than spanking, and without the nasty side effects. Consider these:
If you're interested in some other spanking-free discipline alternatives, check out any of the "Positive Discipline" books by Jane Nelson, and visit www.nospank.net.
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