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

Thursday, March 14, 2013


by Domenick J. Maglio PhD Traditional Realist

Every year we are inundated with the latest fad childhood disorder. The hits of the year have become recognizable to even the average person who is far removed from the mental health field. ADHD, Autism, Conduct Disorder, Asperger’s and Learning Disorders are just some of the mental disorder hit parade. Bipolar has become a popular diagnosis today for children although not long ago it was considered an inappropriate diagnosis for children due to their normal mood swings. It is not unusual for a child to go from crying to laughing in a moment.

The reason for the epidemic increase in the labeling of children has been blamed on everything imaginable. Some of these are food coloring, chemical imbalance, diet, preservatives in vaccinations, allergies, viruses, power lines, use of electronics, chemicals in the water, and a host of other theories, which have captured some enthusiastic followers.

The most obvious reason for the phenomenal increase in childhood disabilities is taboo in most public discussions: It is spanking. Modern parents no longer feel it acceptable to spank a child for misbehavior.

In our politically correct society, spanking has been equated with abuse and is considered by some officials to be a criminal act. Spanking has not been officially declared illegal by the federal government although the media and educational institutions have indoctrinated people from youngsters to middle age adults that it is a horrific act, which it is not.

Spanking, like appeasing, medicating, ignoring, lecturing carried to an extreme can be abusive. In a more moderate form spanking can be the best teaching strategy to assist a child in remembering not to do a particular behavior.

Moderate spanking is not only, not abusive, but is the most effective means of extinguishing a potentially harmful behavior and obtaining an individual’s attention. When "stop" is stated as a sharp command it often works. Listening to a parent’s command can prevent a calamity. In the case where the child does not respond to the command, a slap on the backside will get the child's immediate attention long enough for him to stop the action.

Not only does moderate spanking set limits, it will decrease impulsive behavior. An uninhibited child is often a dangerous child to himself and others.  He does dangerous things before thinking of the consequences of his actions. A spank is a consequence that imprints in the child’s mind that doing a dangerous action will cause him pain.

Once the child realizes the parent means business, the testing of limits becomes less attractive to the child and normally the frequency declines. The toddler gains awareness of the parent's presence and even eye contact can stop the child in his tracks. This has historically been called “the evil eye” and has been a powerful tool in the parent’s quiver for controlling the child’s behavior. The youngster has learned to respond appropriately to the power of his parent’s presence.

Even when the parent is not present, this training would influence the child’s behavior. A child with a strong parental authority figure will have that parent's face flash in front of his mind when contemplating a ridiculous action. The thought of the parent's reaction before he acts is a natural and effective inhibitor of potential reckless behavior.

The discouraging of spanking and the encouraging of the child to think he is equal with the parent have been destructive changes in establishing appropriate behavior. This weakening of standards and expectations, which has left children vulnerable to be diagnosed with some type of mental disorder. Ever since we have de-legitimized traditional parenting beginning a half century ago, children do not listen as well and have less respect for their weak, wanting-to-be-liked parents.

The duty of the parent has radically shifted. It has transformed from a trainer of children who increases his child's chance of survival to a playmate. The parent as an equal is supposed to instantaneously provide everything the child wants to make him or her happy.  This has had a radical effect on our children’s attitudes, thinking and behaving.

This transformation to a permissive, materialistic "buddy" has been the number one reason for the increase in childhood disabilities and emotional unhappiness. Children no longer are being taught to appreciate the strength of their parents' guidance. Parents have the experience to assist their child to navigate the difficulties of life. Any unnecessary traumatic event can negatively alter the course of a child’s mental and physical health. Growing up is dangerous enough but without the parent’s establishing parameters it is a disaster waiting to happen.

In the long run appropriate spanking is more humane than the abdication of the parental responsibility, medicating a child into submission, and labeling a child with a disability that follows him for the rest of his life.

Children that have parents who care enough to say “no” and give an occasional spanking develop emotional security. They have the discipline necessary to become self-reliant individuals.

Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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