Monday, September 29, 2008

Spare the Rod?

My niece (the child psychologist) forwarded this article to me today, citing scientific evidence that "hitting, pinching, slapping, or otherwise laying violent hands" on one's children (as a common form of discipline) may have short-term results, but the effects are not long-lasting. "Physical discipline doesn't work over the long run; it has bad side effects, and mild punishment often becomes more severe over time." [For the record, she sent it to all of us; she was not trying to tell me something I don't already know.]

I was spanked and slapped a lot as a child, and I turned out great. (I have eight siblings who have their own testimonies as to the effects, of course.) Mr.4444 was spanked only once in his life, and he turned out great as well. My husband has never laid a hand on either of our kids, and I can only remember one incident of my spanking them. Kyle was buck-naked (maybe 18 months old), standing on a wrought iron stand beneath a 30 gallon aquarium and was refusing to get down. His butt was right there, asking for a swat, so I gave him one. I still remember the satisfying "smack" of my hand connecting, and his startled response. His facial expression read, "I didn't know we could hit!" Suddenly, he stepped down and ran towards me with a look that said, "Okay, Lady, Game on!" and he smacked me back, on my leg. At that moment, I said to myself, "Hmmm. I can see we're going to have to find a different method here..." and we did.

Even though I "turned out great," I have to add that that "greatness" did not come without a some therapy and a lot of education. I also know that my temperament (easy going, people-pleaser) made it likely that I weathered that corporal punishment better than others might have. My background in Human Development taught me a lot about child development and how to raise healthy kids. When I didn't know what to do about various "naughty" behaviors (biting, sassing back, etc.), I researched and learned. (We found the timeout chair to be a pretty effective tool.)

How about you? Are you using the same discipline methods that your parents used, or have you gone in the opposite direction? What has been your guide for disciplining your kids?

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