Parents are in a tricky situation. They don’t like to be told how to educate their children and yet they are always looking for new information that will help them be better parents. One of the subjects more debated when it comes to education is the topic of physical punishments. And whether you in favor or against, the truth is that a 2016 study has confirmed that spanking causes long-term harm in children.
Spanking causes long-term harm in children
This study was a pioneer in the sense that it clearly distinguishes between physical abuse and spanking, that defines as hitting the child in the extremities or bottom with an open hand. This distinction immediately sets it aside from other studies heavily criticized by parents in favor of spanking who defend those are two very different situations.
According to the researchers, hitting the children is only beneficial for parents to help them vent out their frustrations. Children, however, don’t learn anything from it but it can lead them to become defiant of their parents.
Even if the consequences are not perceived immediately, as they grow they are more likely to be aggressive, have some sort of cognitive impairment or mental health problems and display an anti-social behavior.
The “But I turned out fine” argument, it was also covered by researchers. According to them, some people managed to turn out well in spite of being spanked, not because of it. They have also studied adults that were hit as children and the results were quite clear.
Even if they looked, lived and behaved as normally functioning adults, these individuals were more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, mental disorders even if mild or subtle and they tended to display hints of anti-social behavior.
5 things to do instead of spanking
Physical punishments are supposed to help you educate your children to become better adults. If spanking causes long-term harm in children, then it’s time to find other solutions if you haven’t yet.
You don’t want to hurt your babies and their future as healthy human beings, but you can allow them to roam free without knowing that their actions have consequences. When they decide to be mischievous, try out any of the following strategies.
Get your emotions in check
Most parents spank their children in the heat of the moment because they are too angry or frustrated to assess the situation. They don’t even think of other possible punishments since at their moment they are blinded by emotions and rather than educating they are simply venting out.
If spanking causes long-term harm in children, then parents need to keep their emotions in check.
It can be hard, but when the moment arises, take several deep and slow breaths and seek to keep your emotions in check. Try to look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective. You might realize that confiscating a dear thing to the children might hit them harder than any physical hand and they will learn their actions have consequences.
Stick by your punishments until the end
Confiscating an object, such as a toy or the computer, can have a much bigger impact on the children’s education than spanking. Since they have a routine or emotions attached to it, they will feel the loss more intensively and learn not to do whatever they did so not to have to experience it again.
However, this strategy is only effective if you can get to the end of it. Don’t make empty threats. If you told your children you would remove something from them if they didn’t stop and they continued to do whatever they did, make sure they know you were not bluffing.
If the object in question is not nearby at that moment, remove it from their possession as soon as you go back home. No cutting slacks!
And don’t ever (ever!) concede when they ask for it back crying their eyes out. If you do, they will know that your threats were not empty, but you are so soft that it doesn’t matter.
Teach the child
Children are still learning. Their brains are still developing and through their interactions with their peers, their family and everyone around them they begin to assimilate how to live in a society.
But you know what else they are? Smart! They are at the peak of their learning abilities, soaking in everything. Give them credit for it and try to teach them and explain the situation.
Spanking causes long-term harm in children because it doesn’t teach them anything. It doesn’t feed their brain and creates new mental connections.
Instead of just forbidding something or telling them they can’t do it, explain the reasons behind that decision too. If they can find and understand the logic behind your request they are less likely to question your order.
Lead by example
There is no point in telling your children one thing and then go along and do something completely different.
For instance, science has already proved that fathers are extremely important in a child’s life because they are a primary source of imitation.
So lead by example. If you want them to clean their room every morning before leaving for school, clean your own room for them to see it too.
Most importantly: be consistent
Since now you know that spanking causes long-term harm in children, you should try to avoid any situation that might trigger you to do it. You can’t let them have their way every time, so you know there will be fights and tantrums. There is no magic solution to stop these.
However, you can reduce their occurrence by being consistent.
If you reprehended your children once because of something, keep doing it every time they repeat their mischief. If you say “No” today and tomorrow you act as if nothing is happening, they won’t learn.
Again, children are smart and they soak in all info. They will just realize that you’re not trustworthy or faithful to your word. Why would they behave as you say so? They know they will be reprehended but also that they can still do it whenever they want.