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April 26, 2010

Brand Spanking New Study

Image: Flickr/greg westfall

Image: Flickr/greg westfall

This week’s Time magazine features an article that bears mention. It’s called The Long-Term Effects of Spanking.

Spanking is one of those topics that we get asked about quite often, but we do our best to skirt the issue. Why? It’s not because we are unsure of our position or anything of that sort. Rather, it’s because the discussion is so rarely productive. Strong proponents of spanking are not usually open to even hearing what science is now saying about the practice. Instead, they shake their heads at what they deem as “permissive parenting” – i.e. anything besides spanking.

So, if you are a hard core spanker and you feel good about doing it. This post isn’t for you. I recognize that whatever I say or whatever evidence I present, you will not agree with me. That’s your right. But, if you are on the fence about spanking, or if you’ve done it begrudgingly and thought to yourself – “there has to be something better” – then you might want to keep reading.

The Time article by Alice Park describes the findings from a new study conducted by researchers at Tulane University. The study followed two groups of 5 year olds. One group was spanked twice a month and the other not at all. The findings were remarkable. “The children who had been spanked were more likely than the nonspanked to be defiant, demand immediate satisfaction of their wants and needs, become frustrated easily, have temper tantrums and lash out physically against other people or animals.” Just how much “more likely”?


That’s 5-0.

I get the urge to spank. Trust me. The appeal is evident. It will generally stop the behavior you are bothered by. Quickly. But at what cost? Look again at the findings of that study. When we spank, we are creating the very outcomes that we are hoping to avoid.

We want our kids to be respectful. Spanking produces defiance.

We want our kids to have self control. Spanking creates a demand for immediate gratification.

We want our kids to be compassionate. Spanking causes frustration and temper tantrums.

Here’s the truth. When we give up what we want most (see above) for what we want right now (our kids to behave, feel remorse, shut up) we fail. We have to work hard to remember what it is that we’re doing. We are raising the next generation. We owe it to them to teach them right from wrong without resorting to the quick fix of spanking. Discipline is valuable – it is even necessary. But it doesn’t have to be done with force. Face it, eventually you’ll have to give up spanking anyway. Why not now?

I’d love to hear from you. What methods of discipline work for you? Let’s start talking specifics and help each other out.

3 thoughts on “Brand Spanking New Study

  1. I am a big proponent of time outs, for the younger child, and natural consequences for the older child. For our chaughter, usually all we had to do was mutter the words ‘time out’ and she would stop the unwanted behavior immedietely. For our son, that was not the case. He pushed the limit on time outs. At 3½ he sat in his room for 5 hours (no exaggeration at all) because he refused to take a bath and I was at the end of my rope for getting him to take baths, a routine he HATED! I tried choices, bribes, everything under the sun short of spanking. After 5 hours he finally got in the tub and got clean. I wish this meant he never fought me on it again but he did. I just had to stay strong and always ‘win’ when it came time to take a bath. Even now, at 7, he still gives me some hassle but not near as much, not 5 hours worth, lol.

    He is now 7 and sits in a time out maybe once every 6 months and I only use it now if I truly can’t think of any thing else at that moment. About 6 weeks ago we got a new couch. We have never had a new couch, we have been saving for this new couch for like 10 years. We wanted a nice, leather, sectional couch so we had to save. Now we have it and as much as I love it, part of me does not because I am super paranoid that something will happen to it. Something on a toy will snag it and rip the leather, etc. Anyway, they kids were never allowed to abuse the VERY old couch before but I was not worried about it like I am this one. Anywa, one day both of the kids were being too hard on the new couch and I actually put them both in time out son is 7, daughter is/was 10) because I needed to think. I then told them that if they abused the couch again, they would not be allowed on it for the rest of the day and if that did not solve the problem it would be for an entire week. Well, the threat of no time on the couch seems to have worked because that particular abuse of the couch has stopped.

    At times I feel really hard on them but when I see their friends come over and disrespect out property I see that being hard on them about respect of property (and people for sure) pays off because they better not treat others and their property with disrespect. A spanking would in no way have taught them about respect.

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. 1 for letting us know that there are times you have thought about spanking. I have been there and probably will be again. As a Screamfree parent I get so upset with myself when I have those moments. 2 for giving me more information about the long term effects of spanking, what spanking really does to the child and says about my parenting choice! I plan to share this with MANY of my friends who also are against spanking!

  3. time-outs are the most helpful for my 2-yr old right now – siting in the corner or against the wall without toys…
    …also, sometimes just isolating him from the situation, getting him to breathe and calm down – he can listen to (and understand) my husband or I explain something. Then he realizes that he’ll have his turn or that behavior won’t be tolerated so he won’t do it again or whatever needs to be communicated.

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