Photo by Joanna Goddard
An outrage and a great debate have once again resurfaced regarding disciplining one’s child following the Adrian Peterson case. In case you haven’t heard of the story yet, the Minnesota Vikings star allegedly hit his 4-year old son with a switch. The act (which Peterson refers to as ‘whooping’) caused appalling injuries to the little boy’s body. He was indicted on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. This case, and others like it, have sparked the questions in the minds of many parents: is it ok to spank your child?
Obviously, Peterson’s was not a case of spanking. Spanking is defined as striking a child across the buttocks with an open hand. That was beyond the border of spanking. I just incited the story so that a difference can be concretely set.
In line with the Peterson case, Phil Grant (Montgomery County first assistant district attorney) stated that “parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable.”
Does spanking belong to what the community deems reasonable? Not necessarily. But is it okay, and is it necessary? That depends.
This is a difficult subject to tackle because the answer cannot simply be a definite yes or a solid no. In parenting, everything is a maybe; it’s all theory, guidelines, and a whole lot of assertions.
If there is a form of discipline that would work perfectly, it wouldn’t just simply be a postulate; it would be the supreme law. But nothing is, and this is what makes our jobs harder. When it comes to discipline, we are ruled by our conscience, beliefs, and tons of emotion.
But here’s the thing, you cannot spank your child due to the following reasons alone:
- Because you’re mad at someone else. You can’t confront that person, so you’ll take your anger out on your child instead. In psychology, this is a defense mechanism known as ‘displacement’.
- You don’t have the patience to explain.
- You are depressed. For the love of all things holy, if a person’s clinically depressed (you need to seek professional assessment to know; self diagnosis or internet diagnosis does not count), help is very much needed. It is not an excuse. Help is available. Choose it.
- You were spanked as a child. Things have changed since you were a child, but also, every child is different. If it worked for you, it may not work for your little one.
- It worked for your neighbor, your friend, your sister, or someone you met at the grocery. Again, what works for one child doesn’t work for them all.
- You’re embarrassed by the fact that your child isn’t as perfect as others you see.
- You feel like a failure. When your child cannot solve a simple mathematical problem, do you get mad because he’s seven years old, and can’t do it, or because you feel that his inadequacy is a reflection of you?
There are a thousand more reasons not to. However, I cannot dismiss the fact that spanking is necessary sometimes. If the child is on her way to ‘brattydom’ or if she’s being a threat to herself and others, the child needs to be disciplined with a quick tap on the bum.
I’m sure you’re somewhat aware of this, but just to reiterate: the first spank is the hardest, but once you get past that, the rest would become too easy, and that is what’s scary. Some refer to it as a positive punishment. To an extent it is, but the negative consequences cannot be overlooked, and this is the most painful thing to take.
So I had a debate with a good friend of mine about disciplining children and I said for mine I give them three chances to get it right. The first time I talk to them, the 2nd time they are put in time out, and the third time they get a spanking. She believes that they shouldn’t get spankings. What do you guys think?
“Spanking teaches kids that hitting is okay. Why tell your child not to hit yet you spank them, which is a form of hitting. Children learn by example and spanking will only teach them its okay to get hit when they are in the wrong and the other way around hitting when others are wrong? (Just my opinion)”
My daughter just turned two last month and she’s been throwing so many fits lately and not listening at all and I’m feeling overwhelmed and am catching myself yelling and every once in a while spanking and after it’s all done I just feel so guilty and cry at night because I know it’s not her fault. I guess I’m just asking for advice on how to stay calm and not yell or spank because it’s not what I want to do or feel is right at this age. I’m also 15 wks pregnant. 🙁
Call me old fashioned, but I believe in a good spank when my kids deserve it..! My kid is 7 and in her entire life I’ve only spanked her 3 times ..! 1st. When she tried to throw tantrums in public throwing her self on the floor. 2nd when she started slapping ppl in the face or kicking other children. 3rd the 1st time she lied about breaking something..! I’m very proud of my daughter she’s well behaved and listens and is a great kid. Did I do wrong in correcting her that way?