Our children are our world. Every parent would agree that life is better because of them. They are innocent and pure, and also (often) the glue that holds a family together. One can never fathom any harm upon them. Yet, ironically, a large number of us do end up harming them anyway.
According to UNICEF, 80% of the children on this planet are routinely hit by their parents. Before we get into its implications and other details, let’s understand what qualifies as spanking.
The Oxford dictionary describes it as an act of slapping, especially on the buttocks as a punishment for children. That doesn’t seem half bad, does it? However, what’s scary is that most parents do not agree with this definition in entirety. For some, it involves ‘hitting’; is not restricted to the buttocks only and stems from an inherent feeling of rage. This is when it becomes an abusive spank. A safety spank, on the other hand is one that dissuades a child from doing something potentially dangerous, i.e. putting his finger in an electrical socket or crossing the road without looking.
Between the ages of 5 & 6, children are believed to be at their defiant best. A screaming and argumentative child can often end up pressing the wrong buttons. When parents want to instill good, compliant behavior in kids but feel like they’re losing charge, they resort to spanking.
If you yourself come from a generation where it was okay to get spanked, it is likely that you would be doing as you have seen. Adults who are subject to physical punishment as a child end up spanking their children as a matter of habit.
Parenting is beautiful, but in no way easy. There are times when one loses control of their emotions and end up striking child(ren). Feelings of anger, depression, fatigue and stress are triggers that instigate such a response.
Every child is different. While some are good with a simple time-out, others are well-versed at pushing their limits. If you have ever succumbed to the urge of spanking your child, you are not alone.
Majority of child psychologists, pediatricians and parenting experts oppose spanking. However, contrary to opinion, a spank may make sense at times. If you want to establish boundaries, depict you mean business or teach them about consequences, an odd slap on the back or legs should not cause any long-term damage. Many parents feel that a light rap at times like these does more good to a misbehaving child, than any significant harm whatsoever.
Some parents also feel that, given the ‘abundant’ lives that we lead today, children are more undisciplined than ever. While this may not be their fault entirely, a spank is effective in sending a firm message and getting their immediate attention.
That being said, there is a very fine line between a ‘constructive’ spank and an ‘abusive’ one. As long as that line is not crossed, all is good with the world.
Spanking has been a fairly standard parenting practice, coming down to us from our ancestors. However, the problem is that life back then was simpler, and so were the consequences.
Given the pace of things today; the absence of familial support, high-pressure jobs and the constant need to ‘impress’; parents are often left dissatisfied with feelings of anger and stress. When this resentment is transferred on to children in the guise of disciplining them, it becomes abusive in nature. A harried parent spanking his/her child or hitting with the intention of causing hurt is a big NO; the idea is not to create fear among kids or to show who the boss is; but to depict genuine concern towards their behavior.
Opponents of spanking also believe that children suffer negative effects from constant, abusive spanking such as depression, aggression and anti-social tendencies. While there may not be enough research to validate these claims, the fact that your child is watching and learning from your moves is reason enough to stay away from it as far as possible.
Let’s get things into perspective. Have I been spanked as a child? Yes. I have. Do I spank my child? I do, occasionally. Do I feel terrible about it? YES, and end up doing all this research in the bargain.
While I’m personally not an advocate, my limited level of patience gets the better of me (sometimes). Nevertheless, my search for better parenting tactics is ongoing; especially since there are people on the other end of the spectrum who are doing just fine without having to resort to any of this!
Where do you stand on smacking your child?