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Spanking, Smacking etc. of Children

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shyboy
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That's true, but I don't see how it's relevant. Governments do punish in ways more severe that a good talking-to, such as execution.

I do think it is relevant. We don't hit people as a form of punishment for misbehaving, breaking contracts, dishonesty. And yet some see it as acceptable when it comes to children.

You claim, and yet the fact is that some children have learned that because their parents will not deliver The Ultimate Punishment of a swat on the butt, they can actually get away with really evil stuff.

I don't think that that is the issue at all. A child can be made to understand that they won't get away with really evil stuff without being hit. Hitting is just an easy way to deal with the problem.

I know some parents do claim that as a reason but I don't agree. The reason is their inability to otherwise properly deal with this child.

Yes, it's possible to inflict real pain, but then if you wish to live by the ethic of no-contact parenting, that also means you can't physically restrain a child who wants to flail about wildly during a temper tantrum, and that is just irresponsible parenting.

That is not what I am advocating. Restraining or physically removing a child from a situation are very much different from hitting.

The proper point of a spanking is not to cause pain, it's to inflict a sufficiently unpleasant experience that the perpetrator understands that violating the rule against torturing small animals will result in some form of justice against him.

There are plenty of unpleasant experiences which do not include physical hitting. Experiences which actually maybe more meaningful to a child as it will be a longer lasting negative effect than few minutes (or seconds) of pain after which he is free to go about his business as usual.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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But, she had a habit of throwing her uneaten food on the floor once she was full.

There is always an alternative solution. I am not picking on you.. just using this as an example.

This is very common thing with young kids. That is how they show you that they are done. It sometimes starts because parents have a tendency to push more food on them than they need.

The solution is to give them much less food (and offer then more as they go). Children won't throw food when they are hungry. They won't - works like a charm!

Edited by ~Sophia~
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... a good friend, and super mom of 4, went to an amusement park with us as part of a group trip. While there, her 4 year old son decided he didn't like his swim shorts. He pulled them down. She pulled them up again and said don't do that. He pulled them down again. She swatted his naked behind, once, sharply, right then and there, and pulled them up again and said, "don't do that".

He left them up.

I can easily imagine my son doing that. When you tell a kid not to do something, they often aren't sure if you really mean it. They often judge that it is one of those things that is not that serious, and might even repeat it as a way to tease -- as something that you might find icky, but is not really, really disallowed.

In exactly the same situation, I would have explained to my son that if he did it again we would leave, and he would understand that I meant it. The consequence is thus tied to the act. It is fine for him to pull his pants down in some situations, but not in a public place like that. Therefore, pulling pants down means we have to leave.

I appreciate that a smack is sometimes quicker, but I think when parents do that they are assuming that their kids are smarter than they really are. For instance, it might seem obvious to an adult that the smack means "we do not pull our pants down in public", and it is possible that the kid will actually understand it that way. However, for every 10 smacks, there will be 2 or 3 where the kid will not understand your reasons, but will over-generalize ("naked is bad") or over-concretize ("applies to amusement park only") the rule about what is or is not allowed. Taking the time for an explanation is the ideal way, in most typical situations.

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over-generalize ("naked is bad") or over-concretize ("applies to amusement park only") the rule about what is or is not allowed. Taking the time for an explanation is the ideal way, in most typical situations.

This has also been my observation even when I explain things to my son. I have to ask back to see what, in fact, he understood from what I said and I often find - it is different from what I would assume.

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I don't know what I would do if I was in his moms situation but I guess it is partly her fault.

I would say mostly. What you see here is a result of an ongoing parental failure. This child feels victimized, not respected. The fact that he is crying (and those are not faked tears) is a good sign - he cares - this is not a vicious kid. I of course don't condone him hitting his mother - but you have asked who's fault this is.

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There is always an alternative solution. I am not picking on you.. just using this as an example.

This is very common thing with young kids. That is how they show you that they are done. It sometimes starts because parents have a tendency to push more food on them than they need.

The solution is to give them much less food (and offer then more as they go). Children won't throw food when they are hungry. They won't - works like a charm!

Sophia,

I'm not taking it personally. The solution that you offer is fine, to a point. There are instances in which a child can ask for food or drink, appear genuinely hungry, be offered the amount they usually eat (or less - if one is dubious about their sincerity) and then still decide - impulsively - that they don't want it and toss it around. Although, there may be some additional cause, not readily apparent e.g. coming down with a cold, teething, tired or overstimulated) that can lead to this misbehavior, the cause is sometimes nothing more complicated than the child acting impulsively or testing you. My son, for example, never threw food. When he was full, he just stopped eating.

With my own children, general meltdowns or tantrums, throwing oneself on the floor etc are usually dealt with by ignoring the behavior. They receive no attention for this and thus learn the behavior is ineffective and stop misbehaving. Sometimes though, a child - even a good one - can become hysterical, throw objects or throw him/herself around, even at you as you try to calm him down. At such points, rare though they might be, we've found that all that works is a spank.

To my mind, none of the foregoing is a failure of parenting. Proper parenting requires evaluating the situation and responding appropriately. Flexible and appropriate responses within a consistent and reasonable framework make more sense to me than categorical "never spank" or "always spank" rules.

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Since I've posted for the anti-spanking side, I think it's only fair to add that there are some techniques that parents use to control their kids that are far worse than spankings. For instance, parents sometimes use certain types of emotional/psychological techniques that I think are "below" spanking. A well-administered spanking, not done in anger, is "honest" in comparison.

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I've raised three children, all boys, and spanking is a valuble discipinary tool. It works, and works well when applied with restraint, i.e., infrequently and not in anger. It will not damage thier psyche or any other such nonsense.

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I was spanked when I was a kid, but my parents did it for different reasons. My dad would always look me in the eye, ask me what I did wrong, and then confirm or clarify. He hated to spank us, but the church and The Bible made it clear that it was good. Sometimes he would sadly(!) recite to me the following verses before I was spanked:

Proverbs 13:24: He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him.
Proverbs 22:15: Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
This second one was also often quoted by our pastor for laughs. That only confused me, because any parent who laughed, I assumed liked to spank their kids, and my Dad did not. Obviously the kids (me) didn't find it fun, either.

My mother, however, at least partly spanked to vent frustration. I wound up fearing her in that regard because the punishments less often corresponded to the crimes. Also, she wanted to inflict pain, not just prove a point.

What was the long-term effect of spanking on me? I can't think of any. It appears that the ways my parents used spanking, the only effect was getting me not to do something. It worked very well for four of their kids, but had no effect on the fifth (middle child).

Of course, then I became a teenager. To note, my parents never found a way to discipline me between the ages of 14-17, when I'd decided I no longer needed punishment.

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The validity of spanking as a disciplinary method has been something I've kinda gone back and forth on for quite some time. I was spanked as a kid, and I think that I've turned out fairly well. I never got into too much trouble really; never did anything extreme like set a building on fire. However, I did do some things that apparently warranted a spanking. I used to think that I had turned out the way I am as a result of that punishment, and that it was successful. Upon further thought, though, I realize that the punishment didn't make me avoid doing things that were "wrong" (for whatever reason), but instead made me better at hiding the "wrong" things I did so as not to get spanked. I've always done whatever I thought was in my best judgment, but whenever I thought my parents would disagree, I did it anyway but worked hard at hiding it. Turns out, fear of a spanking didn't really have anything to do with the decisions I made, but it was always in the back of my mind making me work hard to conceal my wrongdoings (again, not that I've ever done anything crazy like steal a car or something).

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have never been spanked and, instead, reasoned with the way Sophia does with her boy. In my mind, it would have been much more effective. Like I think has been said before, oftentimes kids don't even know that what they're doing is wrong and when you punish them for it and don't explain why they just get confused. How many 4 year olds are gonna think, "I know coloring on the wall is bad, but I'm gonna do it anyway! Muahahahahaha!" For me it was more like, "I'm gonna color on the wall." *scribbles* Also, no 4 year old is going to think, "I would like to color on the wall, but my parents worked hard to pay for this house and coloring on the walls is disrespectful and difficult to clean off...and it violates property rights. Maybe it'd be best to color on this piece of paper." :-/ <--And they're probably not going to get that kind of lesson from a spanking either.

Edited by Kori
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  • 3 weeks later...

The problem with spanking is that even though you may get them to "act the right way", they are not acting in the right way because they understand why it is right, but because of fear of pain. In situations where your kid pulls his pants down in a public place over and over again, or where he beats up the neighbor kid, it is okay to give him some sort of physical punishment if he is of the age where you cant reason with him completely. But it is very important, that you constantly explain to your child, why the thing he/she did was wrong, and that you dont leave it just because he stopped doing it because he feared your punishment.

It is possible to get children to act in a right way, but it is of no long term value to you or the child, if he does not understand himself why it is right to act in that way. You can get your child to work hard at school by giving him money or candy when he gets good grades, but this does not mean that he will learn why it is good for himself to work hard at school and learn new things if you dont try and explain it to him in any other way than just "bribing" him. The effects of this will be apparent later on, and in high school/college he may not value education because he has a part-time job, and dont need your bribes any more.

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... spanking ...

... giving him money or candy ...

...if you dont try and explain it to him in any other way than just "bribing" him. The effects of this will be apparent later on,...

That's a great point. There's some interesting research on this [see "Influence" by Cialdini], where they found that threats and explanation, both produce decent short-term compliance. [This was telling young boys nto to play with a particularly tempting toy when the researcher would leave the room.] However, explanation produced significantly higher longer-term compliance than threats.

In general, the child understands spanking and bribing as unrelated or external to the action-consequence which the parent is seeking to control. Even a good explanation can appear to be a rationalization if it accompanied by a spanking or a bribe.

The same can sometimes hold true at an adult level, where high salaries do not work as well to motivate performance as does a genuine belief in the organization's mission.

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I read about an interesting method of discipline in a magazine, and I wondered if any the parents here could confirm or deny its efficacy.

The basic idea was to allow a child to experience the full consequences of an incorrect action, rather than punish them and forcing the correct course . An example given was a child that had to be told many times to change for school, which often resulted in shouting matches and threats. So, frustrated by the ineffectualness of this technique, the mother simply took the child to school in his pajamas. He was told, once, that he should be ready to leave at a certain time, and when he was not, he was simply taken to school anyway.

Obviously such a method would not be practical for a child who refused to look both ways before crossing the street, but I wonder at its usefulness in other situations.

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The basic idea was to allow a child to experience the full consequences of an incorrect action,...
Experiencing consequences makes them concrete, rather than abstract things mommy says will happen. As you said, there are limits because of safety concerns; but, are also other limits on this -- even based on one's own convenience. So, when it is not too much of an inconvenience to oneself, it's a good technique to use.

Making the connection: Also, the concrete alone may not be enough. Sometimes, one has to explain to the kid how the consequence was a result of some action, and how it could have been prevented. At other times, that connection will be obvious enough, and if you point it out, you're a nag, effectively saying "I told you so".

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I read about an interesting method of discipline in a magazine, and I wondered if any the parents here could confirm or deny its efficacy.

The basic idea was to allow a child to experience the full consequences of an incorrect action, rather than punish them and forcing the correct course . An example given was a child that had to be told many times to change for school, which often resulted in shouting matches and threats. So, frustrated by the ineffectualness of this technique, the mother simply took the child to school in his pajamas. He was told, once, that he should be ready to leave at a certain time, and when he was not, he was simply taken to school anyway.

Obviously such a method would not be practical for a child who refused to look both ways before crossing the street, but I wonder at its usefulness in other situations.

I once had exactly this situation with one of my girls when she was about 4 years old. And I tried this technique.

For some reason I don't remember, it was just me and her one day. I think my wife had to go into work early and the other children had gone with her. This one has always tended to sleep in.

It was all about not liking her socks, which was a common problem with our girls (and still is). She had about 27 kinds of socks to choose from, too. My wife had bought her just about every brand, color, and size. My daughter did not like the socks her mother had chosen for her in advance. (Mom's are great; I would have had no idea which to choose for her.)

As my daughter stood before me -- in nothing but her panties -- I calmly explained to her that I would be taking her to school in twenty minutes at exactly 8:00 am. I pointed to the clock. I also explained that I would be taking her to school whether she was dressed or not. She knew that my wife and I always followed through with what we said we would do. There was plenty of time for her to get her clothes on -- shorts, t-shirt, socks and shoes. She was familiar with the clock and I showed here where the minute hand would be pointing when time was up. The countdown began.

She continued to whine, fuss, and stall. I explained the situation again and every few minutes gave her another reminder. I repeatedly showed her the movement of the clock’s minute hand and reminded her that we were leaving when it pointed straight up. I told her to go choose different socks if she preferred. I gave her a last reminder at 7:58 am and told her she had better hurry. She whined and fussed some more -- still with nothing on but her panties.

Grimly, when the minute hand finally reached the appointed spot, I went over to her as she stood there -- still in nothing but in her panties – gathered up her clothes, socks and shoes, picked her up, carried her out to the car, and strapped her into her car seat, which was positioned directly behind my driver’s seat. She screamed bloody murder the whole time. I climbed into the driver’s seat and turned on the ignition. This is when I learned that I thought that she had been screaming bloody murder, but that I had never actually heard screaming bloody murder before. She seemed to be screaming right into my ears. As I drove her to school I wanted to roll down the windows for some noise relief but was afraid I might get arrested for kidnapping. It was that bad, and people have cell phones.

After about 10 minutes of this, she changed to sobbing and then gradually became quiet. She recognized that we were nearing her school. I thought: “This is good, I am making the point.”

Just as I turned onto the side street of the school, something sailed past my head and landed on the dash. It took me a moment to realize what it was: her panties.

I had been quite prepared to take her into school in her panties, but I was not prepared to take her into school stark naked. Now it was my turn to sweat. The ride to school was almost over. She sat quietly in her car seat -- naked. I played it cool -- but frankly had no idea what my next move should be. I pulled into the parking lot and parked. I reached for the panties from the dash, slowly climbed out of the car, went back, and opened her door. I calmly unlatched her from the car seat. I still had no idea what I was actually going to say or do. It was not until that moment that she finally relented. She yelled “no!” and franticly grabbed her panties from my hand and started to dress.

We didn’t have such an episode again. But it was close. Really, really close. And this one in particular is always ready to up the ante.

Edited by Old Toad
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  • 1 year later...

*** Mod's note: Merged with a previous topic. - sN ***

Wanted to get the forum member's thoughts on smacking vs beating. I have at best a mismash of ideas in my head so I'm going to spew them out in this post.

I will start with this definition of parenting:

"The parent’s job is to bring the future into the present for the child, to make it palpable, and to do so in a way that accurately represents the world as it is—but at a level that is accessible to the child."

I will also define a child as a 9 year old.

Having said that I would suggest that children often want to do playful things, and are not necessarily advanced enough in thought to consider the consequences of their actions. Some of these things might be objectively considered "bad", but the child mind may not be developed enough to consider them thus. The law also states that their parents/guardians are responsible for their actions. What then happens when some playful fun goes bad, and (to be extreme) someone dies? It's certainly in the interests of the parent or guardian to limit this behaviour. Sometimes that will require coercion.

That coercion takes the form of smacking. I distinguish between smacking and beating by defining smacking as the minimum coercisive action required to prevent further damage by the child's own actions .

Given that one can't foresee every possibility and given that a child's rationality is bounded to a huge degree in comparison with adults. , when something unexpected arises which might result in hard to the child, should one 1) quickly correct the child using minimum force required to do so, or 2) let the child suffer the injurious consequences? Which of those two situations is the more abusive?

At the same time isn't this coercisive force at heart an authoritarian force ,one that will sooner or later, cause problems. if you are being a good parent, why did you not anticipate that the child might be curious about e.g. sockets and secure them? Then, seeing the child's curiousity, why did you not find some safe ways for the child to learn about electricity? How does spanking convey to the child the remotest understanding about electricity and why it can be dangerous?

Edited by softwareNerd
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In virtually every situation where you can smack a child, you can also just physically restrain them until they've calmed down a lot. Wouldn't that be the better way to go; seeing as to how it's much less forceful?

And if they're too big to restrain, they're probably old enough to listen to reason. Either way you really don't need to smack them.

Edited by Maarten
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I agree, but an absolute prohibition against spanking is fundamentally wrong. Just because the death penalty is the punishment of last resort does not mean that it is never the correct punishment.

Ayn Rand actually once said that the death penalty should not be implemented because of the possibility of executing an innocent person. Not because a criminal has a right to life, but because an innocent person who might be executed and falsely convicted cannot be resurrected once the death penalty has gone into effect if they are later proven innocent. Although I could imagine that in cases involving national security, such issues as a false execution would be paled by the danger in which such a position puts America. Nevertheless that's a different issue altogether than, say, arson.

Back on topic, smacking children is barbaric! How do they even know that the child is intentionally misbehaving, and not merely suffering from a mental illness? Unless it's a life or death situation, I would not advocate a parent using any form of smacking as a method. We need prohibitions against direct and harmful uses of force. And yes, smacking IS harmful. If the government can monopolize force, then it is reasonable to extend the prohibition against individual use of force to the case of a parent and a child. While, depending on the amount of damage, the punishment should vary, it should still be there.

This isn't an issue of government sticking its nose in where it doesn't belong. Government was created for the very REASON of protecting individual rights. While children don't possess the SAME rights as an adult, they DO possess rights such as the right to life, and by extension a right to be free from violence.

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I definitely do not agree with any of what AI said, but it does seem to me that beating a child in punishment is immoral. If the justification is that children do not posses the full capabilities of reason and rational thought, then the only thing they can understand is physical punishment, it does not make sense that a person's lack of full mental capability is the standard for using physical beatings to teach proper behaviour. I mean, what if my father were to become senile in his old age, and say, every time he forgot to take his pills, or tried to do something without permission, I were to take a leather belt and beat the shit out of him. It sounds rediculous when you put it that way, so why would you do it to a child?

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Ayn Rand actually once said that the death penalty should not be implemented because of the possibility of executing an innocent person.
Actually she did not say that, or anything like that. When you attribute a position to Rand, you have an obligation to substantiate it. Note too that assuming this principle, the death penalty is conceivable if you can rule out the possibility of executing an innocent person; thus it is not an absolute context-free rule.
How do they even know that the child is intentionally misbehaving, and not merely suffering from a mental illness?
That is fundamentally perverted reasoning, which relieves all persons of moral responsibility for their actions and, more importantly, enables a shirking of responsibility by custodians. All you have to do is lament your inability to see directly into the soul of a person and declare "I can't see what their real motive is, and for all I know they are mentally ill. I can do nothing!"
Unless it's a life or death situation, I would not advocate a parent using any form of smacking as a method.
You don't need to advocate anything. What you need to do is either realize that you have a moral responsibility to guide the cognitive development of your children, or you should refrain from having children if you are unwilling to actually shoulder that burden.
Government was created for the very REASON of protecting individual rights. While children don't possess the SAME rights as an adult, they DO possess rights such as the right to life, and by extension a right to be free from violence.
First off, morally speaking children do have the rights of man. Second, if in fact a parent does use improper force against a child, the government will punish the parent. You fail to grasp the fact that corporal punishment can be administered properly, and that a spanking or other forms of physical force are distinct from criminal assault.
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First off, morally speaking children do have the rights of man. Second, if in fact a parent does use improper force against a child, the government will punish the parent. You fail to grasp the fact that corporal punishment can be administered properly, and that a spanking or other forms of physical force are distinct from criminal assault.

Doesn't criminal assault relate to what is legal and not necessarily what is moral?

As to the question of the morality of physical violence against children, based on my interpretation of Ayn Rand's philosophy I conclude that it is definitely immoral to strike a child in retaliation for any offense. As-side from the practical problem of avoiding injury, I have some hearing damage do to a miss aimed slap to the face. The short term gain of immediate obedience is outweighed by the long term lesson that violence is a proper way to meet problems. Consider that it is usually impatience and annoyance that are the major factors driving the use of violence in punishment.

There are more effective ways to teach children to be ethical in there behavior that admittedly require patience and perseverance.

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As to the question of the morality of physical violence against children, based on my interpretation of Ayn Rand's philosophy I conclude that it is definitely immoral to strike a child in retaliation for any offense.
Based on my interpretation of Ayn Rand's philosophy I conclude that is is definitely immoral to allow a child to harm itself or others because of a misguided belief that children should never receive physical punishment. So on that front, we have a stalement.
There are more effective ways to teach children to be ethical in there behavior that admittedly require patience and perseverance.
How is this relevant? Who has denied that fact?
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