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Repercussions of Spanking

The 2011 article, "Plain Talk About Spanking," by Jordan Riak* offers some insights about spanking, including that the practice can set up children to be easy prey for sexual predators; can result in sciatic nerve damage; can make children more aggressive and assaultive; can cause neurological changes related to fear and stress within the child's brain; and much more. I strongly encourage you to read the original article.

The article gives references as to where you can go to find the back-up documentation for the above claims as well as comments from other experts and questions and answers.

Meeting a child's needs

The belief has been that you either punish the child or you let them run wild. This is all-or-nothing thinking. In between is a rich field of new understanding regarding the power of the parent-child relationship.

Children have needs that only parents and primary caregivers can meet. Contrary to conventional thought, meeting a child's needs does not make for a spoiled child, and ultimately, a selfish adult. Meeting a child's needs shows them a model of care, compassion and engagement. It teaches them the value of who they are, which will help them to grow up and live the same values. Through this modeling, they will pass care, compassion, and engagement to others in their lives (the same as violence is passed on through modeling.)

How a child is treated lays the template for their relationship with their self and others.

Lessons I've learned

As a child I learned:

Adults can misuse their power and get away with it as it is sanctioned by other adults.
Children's needs can be too much for the adults. When that happens the adults are justified in any type of punishment (spanking, go to bed without supper, silent treatment, ignoring, etc) to let the child know how much trouble they have made for the adult and not to do it again.
Bigger people (adults) can, do and get away with hurting little people (children).
To want to hurry and grow up so then people would listen and not hurt me.
A child is never right only adults are right.
No adult will believe you when you are a child, even when you tell the truth. If the truth isn't what they want to hear, you are a liar and you will get punished. Therefore, you better tell them what you think they want to hear.
Even if you don't understand why you are being punished it is for your own good and you better figure it out even if you are confused and can't. Then you pass it all along to your children.
A child doesn't know their own thoughts and feelings. Adults tell them what they think and feel and why they do what they do. Even if it is all wrong.
In my experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor, I have learned:

Children don't drop out of school if they feel they are safe, understood and cared for.
Children don't leave home as soon as they can if they feel emotionally connected, protected, and valued.
Children want to do the right things. They want to please the adults in their lives. They want to be loved and love back.
Children want to learn and grow. Something has to go terrible wrong in a child's experience to stop their natural curiosity and desire to learn.
Because they are children and have to learn healthy boundaries, which they will not like, they will test them. That is their job. Our job is to upgrade our understanding of what it takes to raise a child without spanking.

Parenting tips

If we want children to be respectful, then we as parents must respect their developmentally fragile, messy and make-no-sense selves. If we want children to do the right things, then we need to guide them to what the right things are in a way that they understand and at their developmental level.

Be an island of safety: Understand where they are developmentally and guide them to where they need to be.
Respect your child as a person: Do not violate their physical and emotional selves.
Set healthy boundaries: Provide rules and guidelines and know that they will need to test them as part of their growth. You don't have to get angry with them expect this.
Recognize that your child is a work in progress: Be aware that children's growth and development occurs in stages and is unique for each child.
Parenting by these methods is a labor-intensive process.

But no one ever said that parenting would be easy.

With kindness, patience, unconditional love, acceptance of their personhood and gentle guidance, our children will learn the lessons that we want to teach. Our goals of growing children into competent, capable, and responsible adults have not changed. Our methods must.


*Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTVAVE),

**1940 landmark study by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck of delinquent and nondelinquent boys.

Deborah Chelette-Wilson is a relationship coach, authoress and speaker whose powerful message is "Harness the Power of Human(e) Relationships." Her inspiring message helps women harness their personal power, find peace within and become part of the shift in creating healthier and more loving relationships, beginning with the one with their self. In order to honor someone else's heart you must first honor your own.

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