Spare the Rod - Ten Reasons to Not Spank Your Child

Caron B. Goode, EdD

Parents wear many hats. Among them are role model, doctor, and chauffeur. Often their most difficult role is that of disciplinarian. Disciplining children is complex. It requires patience and understanding. For centuries, spanking was the primary discipline tool. Unfortunately, it is ineffective and can be harmful. Countless studies have shown that spanking does little more than perpetuate aggression and violence. This is only one reason to not spank your child. Here are ten more.

Ten Reasons to Not Spank Your Child

•    It does not work. One reason spanking does not work is that children often forget why they are being punished. They think only of the physical pain. Also, spanking does not encourage good behavior. In fact, it does the opposite. Studies show the more a child is spanked, the more aggressive he becomes.

•    It teaches hitting. Children are great mimics. They watch parents for clues. Then they imitate their behavior. Spanking teaches them that hitting is acceptable. It also makes them more aggressive. As adults they are more prone to violence. In addition, they often spank their own children. This action continues the cycle of violence.

•    It instills fear. Some spanked children learn to fear their spanker. They learn nothing other than to be afraid to repeat the behavior. This fear also makes them withdraw from their parents and lack trust.

•    It produces anger. All children feel punishment is unfair. For those who are spanked, the unfairness turns to anger. On the outside they seem compliant. But on the inside they are harboring anger. An anger that threatens their well-being.

•    It erodes self-esteem. Parents are ground zero when it comes to self-esteem. Children use their parents' perception of them as their self-image. To a child, spanking tells them they are bad. It also tells them they are small and weak. This erodes his self-esteem. It also makes him feel powerless and devalued.

•    It makes parents lose site of alternatives. Once a parent begins spanking, it is easy to forget there are alternatives. There are many ways to discipline a child. All of which are far more effective than spanking. One book, Connection Parenting, by Pam Leo, teaches how to connect with your child to meet their needs so you won't have the need to punish through spanking.

•    It can lead to abuse. It has been proven that spanking does not work. What do parents do when hitting their children does not make them obey? They hit harder. Then harder still until they cross the line from spanking to abuse.

•    It hurts parents too. Many parents don't like spanking. They do not feel good about it as discipline. But it may all they know. After they spank their children they feel guilty. They also feel powerless because spanking doesn't work.

•    It can replace good memories. Many parents work hard to build fond childhood memories. The hurt of spanking can easily replace these good thoughts. This process mirrors one of the reasons spanking doesn't work. Spanked children often forget why they are being punished. Instead they concentrate on the pain. This pain can make them forget positive childhood memories too.

•    It weakens the parent-child relationship. Spanking puts an emotional wedge between parent and child. Children depend on their parents to care for them. They trust them and their authority. Authority based on fear makes children lose respect for parents. It is hard to respect someone that hurts you. Lack of respect leads to more behavior problems. This, in turn, leads to more spanking. This cycle puts distance between the parent and child. It also has a negative impact on their relationship.

Dr. Caron B. Goode is the founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents International, a training and certification program for parent coaches. In addition to duties with the academy, Goode is the founding editor of the website, and the author of eleven books, the most recent of which is Help Kids Cope with Stress & Trauma, which includes several chapters on he use of storytelling strategies. For more information on The Academy for Coaching Parents International or to sign up for academy announcements, visit .
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