Equal Rights for Kids: DON’T HIT! Part 2

picture-6Unfortunately, the number listed above is not my current salary. It’s an alarming statistic, tallying the number of students spanked or paddled by teachers during the 2006-2007 school year — according to the Department of Education.

Did you know that in 21 states corporal punishment is legal in public schools? In other words, it is LEGAL for a teacher, principal, or guidance counselor to spank someone’s child if they misbehave in school.

Here’s my question: would it be wrong if your coworker were treated this way? How about your wife or husband? What  if you were given a spanking when you missed a deadline? Would that be OK? If your answer is no, then why in the world is it considered “OK” to do to a child? Quite simply, IT’S NOT.

Research has proven that there are many negative side effects associated with spanking, swatting & paddling. As a mater of fact, it has the capacity to cause long-term brain damage! This is true whether it occurs in school, or in the home. No matter how you slice it, it’s bad news for kids. More on the research I’m speaking of in a moment.

First I’d like to explore some common beliefs about hitting children.

Zig Ziglar, in his fantastic book, See You at the Top, wrote the following about spanking and discipline:

“I am certain that many civil libertarians will scream it’s archaic to lay your hands on kids. Psychologists generally agree that when a child understands he is going to be held responsible for his deeds, he is far more likely to be concerned with those deeds…” 

“…Psychologist James Dobson strongly feels it is most destructive to permit a child to go through life without the loving assurance expressed in discipline. Discipline assures the child he is worthwhile and that you love him enough to discipline him for conduct which is not in his own best interest.”

I whole-heartedly agree that children, like adults, need to be held responsible for their actions. It’s true that we can not let them act and speak however they want, like wild animals.

What I do not agree with is the use of physical force as discipline.
(this is one of very few issues Zig and I are in disagreement on.) 

“Discipline,” is not a one-dimensional word. As a matter of fact, if we utilize positive forms of discipline (punishment/consequences), we instill discipline (self control & determination) in our children — as well as virtue, morality, manners and responsibility and self respect.

Our children do not need to learn fear and repression, they need to learn integrity and positive expression.

We don’t want to beat them down, we want to build them up — all the while making sure they have a solid foundation to build their own future on.

Mark Brady, PhD., has written many books about parenting. He also specializes in the
brain development of children. In his book, A Little Book of Parenting Skills, Mark explains:

“A parent’s role fulfills a sacred trust: one intended to safely help grow the heart, mind, brain and body of a vulnerable human being. No matter what you think, or what your own parents did that made you ‘turn out alright,’ hitting children violates that sacred trust.

Modern brain imaging studies clearly show that hitting children disrupts and disorganizes the developing structures of the body and brain. The home that used to be a safe refuge, no longer is. The people who used to be the ones a child could turn to for safety, no longer are. With nowhere safe to go, and no one available to turn to for soothing and help in regulating emotional distress, the world becomes an overwhelming, confusing, unmanageable place.”

In An Interview With Mark Brady, Part 3, Mark had this to say:

“Research suggests that parents who hit children were themselves hit by their parents. From their perspective, they were hit and ‘they turned out all right.’ My response to this assertion is: ‘Compared to what?’  How might you have turned out had your fear circuits not been intermittently triggered in ways that make the world look like a dangerous and difficult place?”

In Part 3 of this series I’ll touch upon how religion plays into the discipline paradigm. I’ll also share more of Mark Brady’s findings, as well as some healthy discipline alternatives.

Until then, don’t hit!

And remember, you are not alone…

Related Links:
Never Hit a Child
Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
Equal Rights for Kids: Let Your Kids Decide
Why Spanking Children is a Bad Ideaby Mark Brady 

No Small Consequence: Our Children’s Future

Years ago, it was common practice for parents to physically reprimand their children when they “misbehaved.” Spanking, hitting and far worse occured with regularity, and seemed to be the norm.

Although there is still a percentage of the world that hits their kids (which I don’t agree with), there is an increasing percentage of parents who do not discipline their kids at all (which I do not agree with). 

So if we want to help our children learn, but we don’t want to use violence to “teach them,” what’s a dad to do? What other ways of discipline are there?

Yelling? Nope. Been there, done that. It sucked…
Click here for research and details as to why yelling at our kids is an inferior form of discipline. As a matter of fact, it can permenantly damage their brains!

What we can do is offer consequences. Large or small, consequences can be handed out with the calmest of voices, without any physical abuse. I’ve found that as long as I follow through with whatever consequence I offer, it is incredibly effective. It also helps my kids learn to be responsible for their actions.

If we don’t teach our kids to act in acceptable ways through some type of discipline, what kind of adults will they grow up to be? And if we spank or beat the crap out of them, well, what are we really teaching them?

I see too many parents letting their kids do whatever the hell they want. The kids run the show. Until recently, I often found myself in the role of the typical pushover dad   making idle threats about consequences I never followed through on. Saying things like, “stop it… stop it or there’s no more TV for the rest of the day… I said stop it or there’s no more TV!” Of course, I never turned off the television and the behavior I was trying to stop continued until I would yell.

Not how I wanted to handle things.

Frustrated, I wrote two posts: How to Retrain t he Reactive Brain, Part 1 & Part 2, and in the process discovered that offering & following through on consequences seemed like the most effective, least harmful form of discipline for me to practice.

Last week my wife and I received a letter from my son Max’s (4.5 years old) teachers. He’s been acting out in preschool, yelling at them when they tell him to come to circle time. Max has also taken to raising his voice at us at home.

We do not allow him to raise his voice at us. We use consequences, coupled with discussion (when things calm down), to help him modify his behavior. Of course, yelling at his teachers is unacceptable too, so we let him know there will (and have already been) consequences for this negative behavior.

But it’s a fine line, because I want to procure Max’s independence. I want him to grow up believing in himself, that his opinion matters. Because it does. On the other hand, he needs to learn that yelling is NOT the way to express himself.

But I can’t put it all on Max. I am partially (possibly to a large degree) to blame for his behavior. Although I am constantly working on not yelling (see Stop Yelling Daddy! Part 1 & Part 2), both my boys have seen and heard me do yell. Like it or not, I’ve set a poor example.

We need to treat our kids with respect if we’d like them to be respectful people. We need to listen to them if we expect them to learn how to listen. We need to guide them in ways that do not damage them or riddle them with baggage that they may wind up carrying around through adulthood.

We’ve got to walk a tightrope, giving them space to shape themselves while shaping their space so it’s a positive environment.

And remember, you are not alone…

Equal Rights for Kids: DON’T HIT!

In a previous post, Tired of Being Exhausted, I touched upon the topic of hitting children (see excerpt to follow). In an effort to advocate for children’s rights, I felt this topic deserved a post of its own.

“If you made a mistake at work, what would you do if you were reprimanded with a spanking by your boss? If he or she took you into their office, bent you over their lap, and spanked the crap out of you? Yes, the sicko’s are probably drooling over this thought  but for the purposes of this blog please disregard any thoughts of your boss being incredibly hot, or any desire some of you might have to be spanked.

Would this be acceptable behavior? Or would you have your boss arrested for assault?”

The answer seems pretty clear. So why would anyone think it’s OK for parents to hit their kids? What makes it acceptable to hit a child? I don’t understand, nor do I see any advantages to hitting when there are plenty of other things you can do to teach a child a lesson other than their taking away their dignity, and yours.

We can reason with them, give them a time out, take away TV, a favorite toy, etc.

Reasoning seems to be the most productive avenue to take (both for the short and long term). It teaches without threatening. But it doesn’t always work, and kids need to know there are consequences if they continue to act out.

But hitting? What does that accomplish, other than stopping the unwanted behavior? Does it address the root of the problem? The child’s frustration, disappointment, fatigue or whatever it might be?

Kids are going to make mistakes. Sometimes they’ll do something bad intentionally, sometimes because they just don’t know any better. But raising children to live in fear of violence & punishment simply creates adults who live in fear. Is that the kind of adult you want to create? One that never fulfills their potential because they’re too afraid of making a mistake and getting punished?

When a child is hit, what have they learned? To refrain from doing something because they’ll be hurt by mom or dad if they do. Wouldn’t you prefer your kids stop doing something because you’ve TAUGHT THEM that it’s wrong? Isn’t it better to help them attain a solid moral base instead of striking them like an animal?

In the effort to stop a behavior for the short term, what long-term damage is being done?

The Hit List

Hitting = violence
Hitting = instilling fear instead of understanding and love
Hitting = creation of resentment
Hitting = disrespecting
Hitting = hurting
Hitting = teaching children to cope through violence, instead of compromise and communication
Hitting = part of a power struggle, it’s all about control
Hitting ≠ teaching (at least not in a positive way)
Hitting ≠ tough love; it is an easy way out for a parent
Hitting ≠ caring

In this battle for control, the child is seeking it and the parent is looking to maintain it. It’s a fine line that is difficult to walk. But at the end of the day how we treat our children is instrumental in who they become as adults. Do you want to create an adult that is successful and strong… or subservient?

The bottom line is that hitting children is wrong. Period.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit, Part 2
– Stop Yelling Daddy!
– Equal Rights for Kids, Part 1: Let Your Kids Decide