The use of and threat of violence to discipline children has been in practice for a long time. Spanking is undeniably widely used to curtail unwanted behavior in children. But, how effective is it, and what are the long-term consequences?
Spanking, which can be defined as attempting to change a child’s behavior by striking them on the rear with an open hand or implement, is said to be the most effective way of stopping children from being unruly. Punishment quells a child’s desire to act in a way that would result in further punishment because it is unpleasant. They become fearful of it. In this way, physical punishment stops children from repeatedly misbehaving and feeling like they can get away with it.
But, this ignores the obvious problem: children know not what they do. Younger kids, especially, don’t inherently understand right from wrong. They are too young and immature. So, by that logic, they are also too young and immature to understand why they are being hit. The response from abusive parents to that is usually, “Well, that’s why you explain to your kid why they’re being hit! Combine it with corporal punishment!” That is nonsense, though, because if a child is capable of understanding why a certain behavior is wrong, then you need not strike them. They will understand if only you spend the time to talk with them about the issue and are open about your feelings, and ask them about theirs. Hitting them is unnecessary.
If a child is too young to understand the issue with their behavior but they are misbehaving, it is the parent’s job to figure out what the problem is and help their child by showing them empathy. Try to understand them and model good behavior, and kids will follow suit. When a child is misbehaving, it can be useful to tell them how you feel about it. Children idolize their parents since birth, so they are not so inclined to displease mom and dad so long as both parent and child care for one another. When kids continue to misbehave, a parent can give them the cold shoulder and ostracize them for a short time. Children respond to and seek attention, so if a parent only gives that attention to acceptable behavior, children will be able to learn what is and is not okay, without punishment. By philosophically discussing good and bad behavior with children, both parents and children remain better connected and generally happier. Mix it all together, and children have the opportunity to grow up unscathed, more intelligent, empathetic, and better capable of handling their emotions as adults and succeeding in life.
The problem with parents who advocate for spanking children is that they are lazy and disconnected from their children. They would rather the quicker, easier way of correcting behavior by hitting their kid(s) than spending the time it takes to truly teach them what is and is not acceptable. They merely want obedience, as though children are pets to be trained. The investment required to bring an unbroken, unabused child into adulthood is indeed massive, but they will be better equipped to handle life and strive for success than their peers, without exception. Parenting with carelessness, threats, and aggression is unlikely to result in the same outcome.
For children to grow up and learn how to properly behave in polite society without abuse, they require connected and empathetic parents. Neglecting to understand them and abusing them is not only unhelpful, but extremely harmful. Spanking is inherently abusive because it does not actually teach a child why their behavior is wrong and evidently leads to plenty of negative long-term effects for children, such as lowered IQ, higher tendencies to abuse drugs/alcohol, increased likelihood of developing PTSD, increases aggression, increases likelihood of experiencing depression, and so much more. Spanking also teaches children the usefulness of violence to get what they want in life, as opposed to negotiation, which makes them more prone to utilize violence as adults.
Children are, without a doubt, the most helpless, dependent people in society. They have next to no rights and must rely entirely on their parents/caretakers for their every need. Abuse and neglect, rampant as they are, are also betrayals of a child’s trust for the people they most look up to. To hit a child is as abusive as hitting the elderly. If an old person is senile and noncompliant, is it okay to hit them to correct their behavior? Obviously not, and yet society views hitting children, who are far more innocent as they have not even experienced much of life, as not only acceptable, but required for their upbringing.
When confronted with facts and ideas that contradict their worldview, those who favor hitting children over peaceful parenting often resort to name-calling and claiming that their subjective experiences and anecdotes supersede decades of research and data. “Well, I was smacked as a kid and I grew up fine!” they often assert, without much self-knowledge, if any. They may value data sets and reason when it suits their arguments but reject them when the evidence does not fit their preferences. This is known as cognitive dissonance, and it is most common in leftist political circles but can also be found in any situation wherein one party attempts to connect another, unwilling party to the truth.
Extensive research and effort has been made to find the best possible way to bring up children. Peaceful parenting avoids the pitfalls of coercive parenting, and as such should be seriously considered over traditional punishment-based upbringing. The violence and threats of violence children are exposed to at home often transfer out into the world at large, which gets inflicted upon everyone in the form of massive, coercive governments and war. Checking out the sources embedded throughout this article will provide a much larger, more detailed explanation on the issues facing parents and children today.