NDSU Extension - Morton County


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March 1, 2021 So What's The Big Deal With Spanking

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So What’s the Big Deal With Spanking by Jacey Wanner

Everyone loves a good controversial topic from time to time right?

Spanking happens to be my favorite and least favorite controversial topic. Why? Because I love educating people on ways to discipline other than spanking. I also enjoy having an open conversation about this particular parenting strategy.

Why is it my least favorite? That’s because people can get fiery, and while I like having open conversations about parenting topics, I don’t like to argue. So when I bring up spanking in a parenting class, I usually get similar responses so I will address those first. The following are the most common responses I get:

  1. “Are you telling me that my parents were bad parents because they spanked me?” Answer: No. Many wonderful, incredible, loving parents choose to spank their children. Spanking was common practice until very recently and people who chose to spank were following advice from trusted individuals. Now we have the research to tell us that spanking is not beneficial to our children and does not help improve their behavior.
  2. “I turned out OK and I was spanked!” Yes. You turned out okay. One of our goals with parenting should be to help our children learn how to solve problems. My question for you would be: What did spanking teach you about solving problems?
  3. “I don’t know what to do besides spank.” I am here for you. Please call me, take a parenting class, come check out a book in my lending library. So many options besides spanking are available and I would love to share them with you.
  4. “You are making me feel bad about myself because I spank my children.” My intent with talking about spanking is to inform you, empower you and provide the research behind the negative effects of spanking. There are no perfect parents and no perfect families. The really great thing about parenting is we get the chance to try something new whenever we decide to do so.

So what does the research tell us? I think what is important to note is that no research has found that children’s behavior has improved with spanking. However, a lot of research says that children’s behavior gets worse.

For example, your child is throwing a tantrum. The parent spanks the child to get the child to stop throwing a tantrum. Research tells us that no evidence shows that the child would throw fewer temper tantrums; instead research says that the child would throw more temper tantrums.

Spanking has been shown to increase hitting behaviors, increase depression and increase resentment toward parents. By spanking their children, parents are modeling to their children that when they get frustrated, they don’t like what is going on, hitting someone to get the person to do what they want is OK. So often, kids who are spanked are more likely to use hitting as a way to solve their problems when they are a child and as they grow older into adulthood.

So my questions for all of you readers is: “Has my child’s behavior improved through spanking?” “How do you feel after you spank your child?” “Would you like to learn more tools to use instead of spanking?”

Please reach out. I am here to provide you with resources.

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