Spanking: Might makes right?

Written by Dr. Carosso

The standard line:
Okay, as a professional you know that I am supposed to tell you that corporal punishment (spanking) is a no-no and you shouldn’t do it. I’m supposed to tell you that it’s ineffective and simply does not work. Well, I’m not going to tell you that; or at least not that it doesn’t work.
The kid’s perspective:
Think of it this way, I imagine most of you men (If any men actually read this blog) would think twice before crossing a guy three times your size. Well, likewise, your kiddo isn’t stupid and realizes when he’s been out-gunned; which is why spanking works. Of course, many of us have our own experience with being spanked, and recognize first-hand the potential effectiveness of a hand on the back-side. However, once we move past the recognition of spanking being effective in getting kids to obey (at least in the short-term), we are left with some potential problems. I hear you saying ‘I knew you were going to say that…” Well, ignorance can be bliss, but maybe not so blissful for your kids, especially if you rely on spanking as your primary form of discipline.

Maybe not the best approach?
What are the problems? First, do you really want to hit your kids? Is there not something inherently wrong with hitting anyone, let alone somebody you love? Also, are we not trying to send appropriate messages to our kids? Do you prefer the message of ‘when somebody frustrates you, hit them?’ If your child is prone to be aggressive, e.g. hits his sister when angry, then does it help to tell him “no hitting” and then spank him?

Other options?
How does a parent feel while spanking? Obviously, they’re angry and frustrated; is it a stretch that an angry parent, in the heat of the moment, might hit too hard, or too many times? Does spanking teach the child more appropriate ways of behaving? Is time-out, loss of privilege, the softer and closer approach, or behavior charts, more effective? Does spanking create good or bad feelings; does it promote a positive, or negative tone in the family? Is spanking consistent with Jesus’ command to do unto others as you’d have done to you? 

Go easy with the rod:
Those are questions to ask yourself; I imagine the answers will lead you in the right direction. Oh, by the way, since I brought-up Jesus, you may be thinking about that ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ verse. However, God’s “rod” also provides comfort (23rd Psalm… “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”); rods were used in Biblical days to guide sheep, not beat them. We want to guide our children; love them, teach and comfort them. The manner in which you carry out those duties, using a consistent, loving, and firm approach, maybe even with a sense of humor, will serve you well in raising your chidren. Now, go get softer and closer with your kids. 

I’d love to read your comments. Feel free to forward to a friend.  

God bless.

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Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working in private, inpatient, outpatient, residential, school, and home settings. He is Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).