Negative Discipline Isn’t Necessary

A donor requested that I address the issue of spanking. I know there are those who certainly don’t condone child abuse but who feel spanking is an appropriate form of punishment.

Like many people, I was spanked as a child. For me, it was always a last resort, and it was effective. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned parents lose control of their emotions in the heat of the moment, and things can get out of hand. Use of physical punishment with children is controversial, and the practice is opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are better ways.

Negative discipline, such as spanking, hitting, sarcasm, verbal shaming or degrading remarks, can have detrimental effects on children’s emotional health and may result in children learning to hit or yell at other children, or in them lying to avoid getting caught instead of learning to correct behavior.

I am deliberately no longer a “yeller,” though I have had some impressive mom-fits through the years. In those moments, I was ineffective and felt horrible afterward. My kids admit that they just “tuned me out” at those times.

As parent educators, we at the Children & Family Resource Center discourage spanking or yelling as forms of discipline and work closely with parents and caregivers to learn very effective alternative tactics where they stay in control as adults and teach the lessons children most need to learn.

Parenting isn’t for the weak. Over the holidays, my 16-year-old daughter used her Christmas money to buy a guinea pig without permission. When I say “without permission,” I am telling you she knew without a doubt that if she had asked I would have said no, and she did it anyway.

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