So…I don’t think we should hit our kids.

I could probably just leave it at that, but I feel a statement as obvious as that probably deserves a bit more explanation.

Buckle up.

When I say, “I don’t think we should hit our kids,” I mean ANY kind of hitting. Including spanking.

We shouldn’t spank our kids.

Take a minute. It’s ok. You good? Cool.

So, the typical response to this epiphany is:

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“WelL mY paReNts SPanKeD Me aND i tuRnEd OUt FiNe.”

Yeah, I know. We all did, right? We all turned out fine. IN SPITE OF our parents spanking us. I don’t think any of us look back fondly on our memories of being spanked. We turned out fine, though.

But did we really?

I ask this because when someone makes that statement, when they say, “My parents spanked me and I turned out fine,” they’re almost always using the statement to defend their own behavior. Their own actions. Their own decision to spank their kids.

I know. I’ve used it the same way. I was spanked and I turned out fine. I mean, unless you consider the fact that I’m a mess. Maybe it’s completely unrelated, or maybe our experiences play a huge part in how we are shaped as human beings. I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

I do know that I was spanked and then I spanked my own kids.

In fact, I gave my 10 year old a pretty good swat on the butt a couple weeks ago because he was going ON AND ON AND ON about something he was determined to argue about that I’d told him to drop and he was getting increasingly rude about it and I didn’t know how else to get through to him.

It was the first time I’d spanked him in probably three years, and it didn’t solve the problem, but it did hurt my relationship with my son. Maybe not permanently. Maybe.

The truth of the matter is, if your parents spanked you and you chose to spank your own kids, there’s a good chance you didn’t turn out fine.

If you’re a spanker, think back to the times you’ve spanked your kids and ask yourself what it solved. Anything? Sure, they probably stopped whatever behavior you were trying to keep them from doing, but did they do it because they understood it was inappropriate for reasons X, Y, and Z, or did they stop because they were hurt and upset?

I’ll betchya a dollar it was the latter.

The only thing I can say that spanking accomplished with my children is that it made them afraid of me. It didn’t result in permanent positive behavioral changes. It just made them scared. Temporarily.

Now, this is all anecdotal so far, and I’m already anticipating loads of responses about how this kind of namby-pamby thinking is creating a hoard of precious snowflakes with no discipline who shoot up schools because they need Jesus or some such bullshit. Go on, get it out of your system. I’ll wait.

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You done?

Sweet.

Ok, so here’s the deal, I’m not a doctor or a scientist. I haven’t done any actual double-blind, peer-reviewed studies on this. But I don’t have to because actual doctors and scientists have and I can use my handy reading skills to learn from them. I’ve linked them for you.

Children who are spanked regularly have cognitive delays, lowered IQ, increased risk of mental health issues, suicide, and substance abuse, and less grey matter in their brains. Oh, and they’re more like to be disobedient and aggressive.

It’s not a joke. Physical punishment has absolutely no benefit and tons of detrimental side effects.

Oh and it’s been banned in 51 countries. That alone should be a pretty good indicator that it’s not a great solution.

Despite the wide array of research showing the negative effects spanking has on kids, roughly 75% of parents still believe spanking is ok. We want to do what’s best for our kids but we believe in something that’s been shown, consistently, to be bad for them. That’s a HUGE level of cognitive dissonance.

It baffles me is that so many people who believe themselves to be smart, who trust science and doctors and research about literally any other topic will swear up and down that spanking isn’t abuse and that there’s nothing wrong with it.

I mean, it’s 2018. Humans have been on the planet for roughly eleventy billion 20 million years and we’re still disciplining our kids like we’re freaking cave dwellers. “You did bad! Me hit! You no do bad!”

EDIT: My very smart friend informed me that humans have actually only been around for 2 million years and that I misread the article I linked. Thank you, Laci!

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Ahh, early 2000’s. We miss you.

EDIT: 2 million years is still plenty long enough to come up with a better way.

Surely we’re more creative than that. We’ve been to the Moon.

There is no logic you can apply that justifies it.

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I mean, it really is that simple.

Now, let me be clear, I’m not telling you that if you spanked your kids you’re a bad parent. Spanking actually isn’t a good indicator of parenting quality one way or the other. And sure, maybe you actually did turn out fine. Maybe your kids will.

But science says your kids will be better off if you stop. Isn’t our job as parents to take all the information available to us and make decisions that we believe are in our children’s best interests?

It’s never too late to change how you parent. My eldest is ten, and the last swat he will ever get was two weeks ago. You can change now.

You can effectively discipline your kids without spanking them. But I’m not going to tell you how, because I’m not a parenting expert. You have the Internet, get to Googling.

I will say that consistency and follow-through are, by far, the most common indicators of successful disciplinary techniques, no matter which methodology you decide to go with.

I’m not here to start a pointless Mommy War. I’m not perfect. No one is. But I think we owe it to our kids to do what’s actually best for them, and spanking isn’t it.

If you have any strategies you’ve used for your kids, please share them in the comments. No judgmental comments please.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution
http://untribune.com/the-51-countries-that-have-banned-corporal-punishment/
https://mic.com/articles/141851/here-s-what-getting-spanked-as-a-kid-did-to-your-personality-according-to-science#.1ChU6NIIg
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2896871/
https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/C75FFD7F4F2FA0A0F00DC295C526BA273F97B523E3C684BEED4C86F4F605625E99EC51CF3D732927F1ADB8B86B6BAAB8
https://www.cnn.com/2014/07/23/health/effects-spanking-brain/index.html
https://www.brookings.edu/research/hitting-kids-american-parenting-and-physical-punishment/


2 thoughts on “So…I don’t think we should hit our kids.

  1. What a great post! I don’t necessarily agree with the lowered IQ, substance abuse, disobedience, and aggressiveness as a result of spanking. I do agree with the mental health issues. My parents spanked my siblings and me, and I personally have found that I can trace back a huge issue with trust to the times that I was spanked. I think that spanking and any form of hitting your child are abusive and there are definitely so many other ways to discipline your child. I am not a parent myself, but I take a lot of experiences from my sister and how she raises her children (which is amazing! My nieces are awesome!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s difficult to narrow down how spanking affects cognitive development, separate from other forms of abuse, because incidents are largely self-reported in these studies. However, I think there’s enough evidence to show other detrimental effects that our disciplinary focus needs to shift.

      Thank you for reading!

      Like

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