|I'm posting the following on behalf of Kelly, a new member (and a friend of mine) who is having computer problems posting her reply.|
Hi, I'm new here. My name is Kelly, and I have a 16 month old daughter. I would definitely be interested in a parenting forum like Luke suggested. I was hoping to discuss parenting with some people here after my good buddy Jason Dixon turned me on to this group.
I am not interested in discussing whether spanking should be legal and what the line is for abuse. I am interested in talking about whether spanking is right or wrong and whether rational parents should use punishments.
I think the essential question is about purpose. If the purpose for discipline is stopping the action, spanking and other punishments will certainly work until the child no longer fears the parent or learns not to get caught. But if the purpose is to help a child develop self control and learn right from wrong, punishment backfires. It teaches external motivation (behaving cause Dad said so) rather than internal (behaving cause it furthers my values). It is also contradictory and confusing to say not to hit and then to do it. Hitting a child teaches that force is an acceptable way to resolve problems.
I am certainly not advocating permissive parenting, either. Children need limits, but they are better ways to enforce them (ways which increase communication and connection between parent and child, rather than fear and resentment). Some that I use are redirecting (especially with very small children), physcially stopping the action, offering an acceptable way to meet the need or express the emotion and working together on this with older children, explaining, allowing the child to experience the natural consequences of the action (if it is not too dangerous or violates other's rights), and setting up the environment so that it is easier to behave well.
I am going to give my take on a few examples that were used in previous posts as times when it is appropriate to spank.
1) They child gets angry and hits another over the head with a toy. Ideally, a parent would be able to stop the child before the hitting happens, but that isn't always possible. So, I would step in and stop the hitting, and say" No hitting." If the child continued, I would take away the toy and say. "I won't let you hit Ryan." If the child hit with his hand, I would physically remove him and say, "I won't let you hit Ryan." With children a bit older than my own, I would explain more about why we don't hit. This does not immediately stop all hitting forever, but it does begin to teach how we interact with people, respecting their rights, and it models dealing with problems calmly but firmly, and it stops the behavior at that time. I would also talk with child about feeling angry (just naming the emotion for a really little one) and offer some other ways to express anger. With older kids, I might give them the words to say next time rather than hitting, for instance, "I don't want you to touch me right now. Move back."
2) A small child runs into the street. My tongue in cheek answer is that the parent needs to be spanked to help him remember to keep a good hold on a small child near a street. :) When a child is too little to avoid a danger and the risk is too great to allow him to experience the natural consequences, it is the parent's job to keep him safe. When we are in a parking lot or near the street, our rule is that Livy can walk and hold hands or be carried. If she tries to pull away from my hand, I pick her up saying, "You can either hold hands or be carried." I also explain what I am doing to keep us safe. "I look both ways, no cars, we can go." If she did get away from me and ran toward the street, I would grab her, hug her, show her my very real fear, and resolve to be more careful in the future. With an older child, I would also talk about why it was so dangerous and maybe role play later about walking near streets.
I would be glad to talk about more examples if anyone has any. I totally agree with the previous poster who said that creativity is a must. I am always looking for new ways to discipline in a positive way.