To Smack or Not to Whack?
That’s been a question under discussion for quite some time.
There is a lot of hype in the news these days regarding how children are disciplined. There are many who defend a parent’s right to spank, or whip the child so as to ensure the punishment is well understood and the behavior corrected. The question will forever remain – how does any parent know this to be the best way to rear a child?
We often hear, “That’s how I was raised, and it works.” Well, but at any given point in time, unless you have a crystal ball that tells the future, you do not know how harsh punishment affects a person. You do not know the future for your child. But, you do know one thing: many Americans are much too aggressive in society at this time. We have too many in jail, too many aggressive acts that end is violence that cannot be reversed. That is not the place we wish to send our little ones when they grow up.
So what is the answer? Once while working with a group of security people who were having a conversation about the idea that spanking children works well, I overheard their conversation and decided to throw a wrench into the notion that spanking is the first line of defense against bad behavior. I explained to them that my husband and I put our children on the thinking chair. The past decade or more has referred to this as time out. I explained to the group that it is the best manner by which to discipline because when you spank, you teach aggression and pain to control behavior, but when you use a thinking chair, you teach the child to think over what had happened and later explain how he plans to change, thereby making him part of the solution. The whole group laughed long, and laughed hearty. But, before you, dear reader, think I failed in making my point, let me add that the last remarks were, “Hey Linda, I want to be your child!” “Me, too!” Even in jest, that is telling.
The most important point I would like to share is this: when you, as an adult, spank a child, it is your anger that propels you, often not what the child has done. Even in worst cases, where he ran in the street, hugging him and putting him on the thinking chair will give far greater, long-term effects than a good thrashing. The child is taught that there are ways to help his behavior that are nonaggressive and peace-loving, and that you care so deeply, even though you were hurt too, to teach this to him. But, if you choose the corporal punishment method, then you are using your own anger, your own history, your own thinking beyond whatever the child’s crime was, and possibly disciplining him far beyond need, fairness, or moral right.
I offer this idea for one reason: I have taught elementary school children for many years, and my husband and I raised three of our own. After one spanking administered by myself to my first child (many years ago), I realized how wrong it was, and that it was me, not he, that more deserved a thrashing. That was the week a green chair was designated, in our home as the ‘thinking chair’. It was the best thing I did as a parent. Children do drive their parents to the point of craziness at times, and they can be exasperating, BUT, they grow to be us. So ask yourself, what do you wish about your own self, about your own past, and because you were spanked, did it truly change who you are today? Maybe. None of us truly knows, but one thing we all may agree upon: our country will thrive in kindness, and goodness far better than anger and aggressive acts against each other, and that learning begins in the home, from parents.
I think kids are wonderful. They deserve the sweetest of days, the kindest of ways, and the compassion earned just for being born.