Last night I was tickling my baby boy. He was in his pajamas, freshly bathed and ready for bed. We were starting to read his bedtime books when he leaned over the rocking chair and started giggling as I tickled him and kissed his back and just relished in his yumminess all two years of it. It was at that moment that I thought about National Spank Out Day.
As I sat there kissing my innocent two year old a being whose world centers on his own family I tried to imagine other kids his age being spanked; fearing that their own parents who would physically hurt them and punish them with pain.
As parents, it is our job to teach and lead the way. Why then, would violence be part of that leadership? The statistics are startling. Even though it is proven to be damaging, spanking is still the leading form of discipline in America. How can this be?
Most parents repeat history. They were spanked so they spank their own children. So how do we break the cycle? By educating the spankers about the impact of their discipline technique and getting the non-spankers to speak up.
If the thought of a child’s precious body alone doesn’t stop you, take a look at the facts; study after study shows that spanking leads to increased aggression in children (the people they respect most are inflicting physical aggression upon them) and anti-social behavior (trust is being destroyed).
There are absolutely no positive effects of spanking.
What can you do?
1. If you have ever spanked your child, commit to not doing it again. Get your spouse and family on the same page. To arm yourself with the reasons not to spank your child, read Dr. Michele Borba’s comprehensive list. Shift to positive reinforcement methods to replace fear based ones.
2. When you are around people that casually mention that a kid acting out “needs a good spanking,” challenge them. Tell them what you know about the dangers of spanking.
3. If you see a parent being physically rough with a child, speak out; the child is helpless and you are not.
To prevent a “parental meltdown” that leads to spanking, social psychologist Susan Newman recommends taking these steps:
1. Take a few deep breaths, step back, and count to 10. Use the time to consider if it’s actually the child you are angry with and not someone else, perhaps even yourself.
2. Take short breaks from care giving responsibilities whenever possible. Grab some downtime of your own during children’s naps or independent play. If you can safely do so, step away from the children to chill out. Brief respites act as safety valves and restore energy so you are less likely to lash out physically if things go wrong.
3. Set up “on-call” support for times you’re reaching your breaking point. When you feel your blood pressure rising there’s still time to avert a crisis. Talking to a friend or family member who understands your children lets off steam and gives you a different perspective and the chance to gather your wits. This can be especially important if your child is particularly difficult.
4. Call up your sense of humor. Think ahead a number of years when you might recall and talk about what your child just did…from it distance it may seem quite amusing.
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