I couldn’t write about discipline without bringing up the subject of spanking. Since I believe discipline is something we teach our children, not do to our children, I bet you can guess that I’m against the concept.
At the same time I feel for parents who try to do their best, and sometimes get frustrated. Although I find spanking to be unnecessary, I understand the parent who feels there are no other options.
Raising kids, after all, is a learned behavior. Many of us utilize the same parenting techniques used by our own parents. To do things differently might be seen as a way to dishonor the generation that came before us. Making changes can be especially tough for someone who is still seeking parental approval. So, we continue where our parents left off. After all, the old techniques worked for our generation and the ones before that.
Raising children today is different however. Of course we still want our children to behave but we also want the next generation to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to navigate through life. In addition, we expect and demand more from ourselves as parents. This calls for an expanded parental tool box.
Having cared for children for more than thirty years, I can usually tell which children are spanked on a regular basis. No, children that are spanked are not better behaved. Often these children don’t know how to listen properly. Why not? Because words are not highly valued and isn’t the ultimate currency used in their homes.
Today, most reputable dog trainers agree that hitting a dog is wrong. Most teachers can keep a classroom filled with five year olds in check without using physical force. Many spouses who slap their mates end up in jail. Employee abuse is no longer tolerated, yet productivity and corporate profits are high. Could it be that society is evolving, and child rearing techniques will follow?
Many parents use spanking because it works. It stops a behavior. That’s where the effectiveness ends. Will it strengthen the parent-child bond and add to a child’s sense of trust? No, and if a parent is looking to model great problem solving skills (so necessary in today’s world) spanking will not do it. Then there is the questions regarding how hard to spank and when to stop spanking. There are no correct ways to spank a child. Some ways are more tolerable than others maybe, but is it possible to do things differently and still get the desired result? Answering no to that question would be to short change parental power.
Let’s say you would like to change, where do you start? Begin by thinking about what kind of parent you would like to be. Read, ask questions, study others and search for role models from your past and in your present.
As you try out your new approach, be patient with yourself and your child. Don’t become alarmed if your child’s behavior worsens in the beginning. It’s his way to test new boundaries and to see if you mean business. More is now expected in terms of self control and self discipline (from both you and your child). It takes time to master new tasks.
It takes courage to change. It takes courage to seek new ways that better align with the parent you wish to be, and better align with the relationship you seek to have with your child. A child deserves boundaries and perimeters. He deserves to learn right from wrong. He deserves to learn how to behave. All this creates security and self-confidence. He also deserves to be treated with dignity.
To read more about my approach to discipline, click here.
If you need specific help, contact me.
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