Monday, October 29, 2007

Why we spank

Okay, so to start with, one of the main disagreements between my friend and myself was over the usefulness of spanking. We believe that spanking is the most effective way of training a young child and has the least long-term detrimental effect on the parent-child relationship. I'm comparing spanking to time-outs, with-holding things, and verbal reactions (scoldings, explanations, etc.) when I say this. They seem to be pretty much the common alternatives to spanking. I see it as the easiest way to have a direct, quick response to an incident of disobedience. It is quickly implemented, not easily argued with and is quickly over and the relationship is quickly restored between parent and child. I especially dislike "time-outs" for young children because their short-term memory (speaking pure biology here) is not adequate to handle a "consequence" that's more than about 45 seconds long. And a 45 second time-out is just not effective. Verbal stuff seems to be way to easy to get emotional over and with-holding privileges usually ends up with a long drawn-out argument and sometimes temper-tantrums. I don't want any discipline I use to seem vindictive to my child. I'm not really aware of any other common methods of punishment--at least that I can think of right now.

Any thoughts?


Susi said...

I just want to mention: in my years of babysitting and seeing "time-outs" in action on younger kids, the results that I've observed are usually a complexity of emotional resentment, fear/guilt, and frustration at having to endure such a "long-term" punishment (5 minutes IS a long time for a young child. I've even seen a 4 year old completely forget why he was in that chair to begin with and have no idea what it was he was supposed to be doing in obedience to me when he was done!). However, in an older child (5 and up) Time Out gives him a chance to actually OBEY, instead of just exchanging the slap on the rear for getting his own way. I recall as a child, myself, realizing that I could, indeed, gratify myself with the forbidden if I merely paid the price of a few swats later on. In many cases, it was an easy trade-in. Time-outs or "grounding" would've been far more tedious, much more hated, and even given me an opportunity (if done right) to reconsider my behavior and find repentance. However, I haven't ever tested time-outs personally on OLDER children. I'm merely extrapolating based on my memories of my own childhood.

Herb of Grace said...

I agree with your assesment of the non-effectiveness of spankings on an older child willing to put up with the discomfort of a spanking in order to get his/her own way. And I agree that time-outs could address this issue. The only problem with time-outs for an older child is that they sometimes simply take the place of a spanking as "punishment". In other words, he's exchanging a few minutes in his room for getting his own way. So when we use time-outs we try to tailor them to the situation in such a way that Sofi's NOT getting her own way in the end. It's not always easy though... My latest attempt is to use a time-out-like thing for sassyness. When I hear that dreaded tone of voice, I stop her in mid-sentence and sit her down right in place with both hands over her mouth until she voluntarily ask forgiveness for the sassyness. The hands-over-mouth is my attempt to associate what is going wrong with the "time-out". Then after the appology we "practice" saying what she wants to say in a respectful tone of voice. I think I need to do a whole new post on "practicing the right way"...

Polly said...

I think one of the brilliant things about TTUAC is the emphasis on training instead of punishing. That is, nipping it in the bud. Keeping the consequence as an immediate and expected result of the negative behaviour, not as something to be mulled over and considered as seperate from the action. For some children, like maybe George MacDonald types :), perhaps the sit-and-meditate-on-what-you-just-did approach might work, but for the average mischief-bound kid, seems that swift, hard and consistant retribution is in order. When you touch a live electric fence, you get zapped: you always get zapped, you never argue out of it, and you can't have a bad attitude because everybody knows electric fences zap! Maybe, Susi, if you had recieved the swats continually while you were doing the forbidden thing, then you would have looked at it differently. :)

Herb of Grace said...

Ha, ha, Polly! I love the electric fence analogy! The Goat Girl strikes again :)

Denise said...

Having observed lots of friends with children from newborn to 10 yrs old, being an older sister to 6 siblings, and having babysat a LOT, I have definite opinions.

Children that do not get spanked for misbehaving end up misbehaving more, pushing MORE boundaries of rebellion/disobedience/disrespect. Generally, they are "brattier."

The fact that Proverbs SPECIFICALLY talks about using the "rod" (i.e. spanking) should be a clear message to Christians that spanking is Biblical.

Basically, when children are given time-outs or withheld "treats" or whatever, I think you prolong misbehavior. Children first obey out of fear, I think. As they get older and learn more about God's ways and the pleasure of pleasing your parents by obedience, they then start to obey from a desire for their parents' pleasure. Not wanting to disappoint them. But you have to be older to understand that.

I think children should be spanked soon after disobeying and once it's over they should be "restored" with hugs and love.

My two cents. :) Very interesting.

Kiddies in the Sun said...

Hmm, well, I guess I should say something, since it seems like I am coming from the opposite opinion of everyone else!
First off, we have seen positive effects from time outs if used properly. If Collin can't sit there nicely, he gets a spanking then and if his attitude is still unchanged, then we go to something else. I just don't get the idea that spanking is used for every situation! I believe that is over use and not letting the punishment fit the crime.
Polly, I do not like the statement, "but for the average mischief-bound kid, seems that swift, hard and consistent retribution is in order". Is this how we see God dealing with us? I particularly dis-like this way off putting it because it sounds so harsh and un-loving.
Denise, you said that,"I think you prolong misbehavior. Children first obey out of fear, I think. As they get older and learn more about God's ways and the pleasure of pleasing your parents by obedience, they then start to obey from a desire for their parents' pleasure" To me this does not show the REAL reason we are wanting our children to obey.
What is the reason for us as adults to obey our heavenly Father? We obey God because it is the right thing to do, it is what God wants from us - not because we will feel guilty if we don't or that we'll get an unwanted consequence if we do. Some of that will come into play, but that is not the reason I want my children to obey me.

It is a heart issue. If the heart is not right, if the child ONLY obeys out of fear or guilt, then it is not true obedience. I am not against spanking, but I do not like to see if over used and used un-necessary. I feel is should be used in combination with other methods. I want my children to be able to make the decision in their heads why they won't dis-obey, rather than make it out of fear of a "hard and consistent retribution" from their parent.

Sorry to make this so long!! : )

Ellen said...

Ok, blogger is going crazy with it's comment feature. I read Rachel's blog, and I thought I would comment about the Pearl's book. I have read part of the first chapter online, and my issue with them is not the content of it, but the TONE and attitude of the book. I think that they have a disrespectful attitude toward children, for instance, in the flippant comment that if you can train a dog, you can train a child. Children are far more complex than dogs, and we discipline them for spiritual reasons, unlike the reasons why we teach Poochie to obey. There are plenty of child discipline books that say very similar things without that kind of attitude. One of my favorites is Sheperding a Child's Heart. It also heartily advocates consistent and systematic spanking, but it does it with more respect. I'd check that one out.