Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kids In The House: Spanking And Preschoolers

It's shocking to me sometimes to remember that there are still people in America who hit their kids, calling it "spanking," or even more innocently, "smacking," as if it's some sort of cute little kiss with a sting to get their attention.

The data is overwhelming. Spanking damages the brain. It literally reduces grey matter and therefore intelligence, learning, sensory perception, speech, muscular control, emotions and memory. Research consistently links corporal punishment with aggression in children, poor academic performance, depression, and anti-social tendencies.

And yet, if history is a guide, there will be people who click through and read about the data who come back here and insist that spanking isn't violence, isn't hitting, isn't damaging, and in fact, is necessary to raising a child. There will be some who insist that their religion requires spanking. There will be some who insist that our prisons are "full of people who weren't spanked," which is an article of faith contradicted by the facts. There will be many who shrug, "I was spanked and I turned out okay."

It's shocking to me that there are so many who are so wed to their "right" to hit children that they are immune to the facts about the harm they do, not only to their own children, but to society at large.

As I've written before, my own rejection of spanking came about before I was even aware of the research. I looked down at this baby who is my daughter and the idea that I, or anyone, would ever hit her, was morally repulsive. I have joined the growing numbers who believe that spanking should be banned here in the US as it has been in other countries.

Below is a short video I made on the subject with the good folks at Kids In the House:

If you liked the video, you can find not only the rest of my videos (search for "Tom Hobson"), but also some 8000 more two minute parenting videos at Kids In The House.

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Playitagainmummy said...

Excellent article TT. To me, spanking is as outdated as the idea of corporal punishment. Having also worked with under fives for the last 7 years, I have only ever needed positive reward systems to support children in learning how to behave properly.

As teachers and parents, it is our job to guide children to make the right choices in their behaviour, and to support them to do so with good modelling and positive reinforcement.

I hope that doesn't sound too teacher jargon-y! But I am as passionate about this subject as you are.

Thanks so much for putting this article out there. I'm going to be sharing it.

Unknown said...

Those who say that the Bible teaches spanking are not reading correctly. The rod (from "Spare the rod and spoil the child" was a unit of measure. Not a stick to hit with. Its like a yard stick to us. In other words, the scripture reads, "avoid standards of behavior and your child will not measure up". The text is an advocate to teach a child, not hit them. Next, the only person I "Hit" is me, if I need a child's attention. A firm smack on my thigh, will startle them, and then I do teaching. Children often cannot control their emotions, hitting only makes it worse, as now the parent has lost control. Pretty scary for a little kid.

Lisa Marie said...

Beautifully said Tom...
There's nothing else to say in my eyes You just said it.

MisfitMommy said...

I was the person who shrugged and said "I turned out okay." I have used time-outs and positive rewards more than anything else but I think this article may pull me away from spanking altogether.

Even though I was taught to never spank a child while you were still angry with them, after being a victim of domestic violence, delivering that sort of punishment where my child must submit to my physical superiority seems like a tremendously sad way to go about it. There has not been a single instance where a "quiet time" or "time-out" coming down from a tantrum has not been effective for our little one, so why take a coarser route? Breeding violence and depression is the furthest thing I want to accomplish in my child's life, these are the biggest selling points for me (among many other good ones).

As a youngish mom, I can shamefully admit this one of the few things I never did research for myself. I was willing to do what I knew. I will be scrutinized as the "one the that doesn't believe in spanking" quite brutally in my family but I will keep moving forward (anything to keep my daughters heart as tender as it is right now). Thanks, Tom, for being an advocate and helping me rethink this!