Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Proper Spank is Better Than Time Out to Create Respect

Our modern culture tells us that spanking is wicked even to the point of being criminal while “time out” is humane without any negative or residual side effects. This is far from the truth.

The reality is “time out” may temporarily divert a child’s attention from continuing a misdeed but does not establish a firm boundary. The child may or may not serve his entire time-out and immediately after can go back on his merry way doing what he was doing before.. He continues to test the same behavior again and again until he wears out the caretaker’s resolve or he learns to be better at negotiating a “softer sentence” or an “acquittal.”

The lack of establishing parameters especially as the child gets older leads to a habit of “pushing the envelope.” Eventually the inclination towards risky behavior collides with authority figures inside and outside the home. Time-out is ineffectual though no one wants to admit it for it is so much easier than the traditional discipline.

Traditional discipline takes work. Parents have to be involved 24/7. As soon as the child does something destructive to self or others the parent has to administer the correct consequence. The consequence should not be too harsh to harm the child nor should be too weak to allow the child to think his misconduct is tolerable and the parent to appear powerless.

The consequence has to have an element of psychological or physical pain so the child pays attention and remembers not to do it again. It may be the psychological pain of taking out the paddle in a dramatic way or the physical pain of slapping the child on the behind. In either case you have the child’s attention plus a clear, precise boundary is drawn in the child’s consciousness. The fear of the parent’s reaction pops into the child’s head even in the contemplation stage before the child acts and prevents him from doing it.

A spank on the behind of an infant-toddler is a clear and concise “no”. It is final. “Do not do it again.” Children at this stage of their lives understand “no” better when coupled with a little dose of pain like a slap but are unable to comprehend parental lectures no matter how well intended. The reasons for the prohibitions come after the slap, not before.

It is true that a spank does not lead to discussion or negotiation. It simply means this will not be tolerated again. It inhibits a particular behavior. Horrors! It eliminates certain behavior like walking into traffic, hurting someone or talking back, which is a true long term benefit for the safety of the child..

The slap is usually spontaneous not a premeditated one. The guardian knows the child’s behavior is dangerous and needs to stop it. No questions asked. It is the way it is going to be. No discussion is necessary.

Too many modern people are under the misconception that a spank should happen after you have exhausted all other options. In reality this translates into a child being much older than an infant-toddler age before he experiences a first slap. By this time the spank has to be more severe for usually greater transgressions.

This makes for a much more difficult uphill battle. This delay in using spanking leads to a child’s increased resistance resulting in a greater potential for abuse. The older child has reached the level of independence to be able to resent the parent’s dominance while the infant-toddler just follows the parental dictates learning to respect their guidance.

This type of training is natural in the animal kingdom. Mammals use loving slaps to direct their young to behave properly. There is no animosity towards their parents, only acceptance of their authority.

As we continue to wander down the modern fantasy path of permissive materialism we are getting away from centuries of childrearing knowledge. This path abruptly ends with out-of-control brats.

Returning to the historical main artery of raising children takes only a greater appreciation of our intuitive nature. You know what behaviors of your infant-toddler will have negative implications for his future. You respond at the perfect time, at the instant it is happening or is going to happen.

“No” with an attention getting spank is the most effective way to internalize a safe guidance system in your child. It is an extraordinary act of love to give your child the gift of your mature experience. Discipline is love, love is discipline.

In return your child will give you the respect of a loving parent instead of a headache from endlessly debating the degrees of his misdeeds.

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2 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Well, I'm glad to see that someone in the psycological arena shares my ideas on discipline. I was spanked as a child and grew up to be a well adjusted, non violent individual. When I was pregnant I began reading modern child rearing literature & had decided I would never spank my children. Then, once I had my kids I realized that spanking was an effective method of discipline & I began to utilize it - and it works! About a year ago I was in the grocery store and spanked my daughter on the behind for throwing a fit because I wouldnt buy her candy at the register... I got the nasiest looks from other woman in line- I simply looked at them and said- "what would you recommend? Allowing her to scream & cry & me give in and buy her candy? That's whats wrong w/ society today... " They really had no response for me & my daughter stopped throwing her fit & realized that no means no...

7:12 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

I would agree that spanking is okay. I have 3 children and they've all been spanked. However, I disagree that time out doesn't work. My middle child, now 5, is a very sensitive person. Just raising my voice is enough to get her attention. When she is "admonished" to the corner, its as bad as if she had been spanked. But my youngest, 2, could care less about time out or voice-raising. She just carries on until I get her attention w/ a spanking. I guess my point is that discipline is a 24/7 job, but it should also be adjusted to fit the child.
BTW: that's funny about the child in the store - it must be where you live. Where I live, I get more looks when I DON'T spank my child. And when one of them gets smacked, I usually get a sly grin of approval, especially from the older crowd.

11:09 AM  

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