Quit spanking

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It wasn’t long ago when a research by experts at the New Hampshire University stating that children who are smacked by their parents are less intelligent created some controversy in the media. Debates were raged on whether it could be said if children who were beaten up were less intelligent, and experts in India had a slightly different opinion. But what every psychiatrist agreed on was that spanking is surely not the best way to train him or her.

Says clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Narendra Kinger, “Spanking definitely makes a child anxious, insecure and withdrawn from the world.” Dr Kersi Chavda, consultant psychiatrist at P D Hinduja Hospital says, “More than 60 per cent children undergo depression or suffer from anxiety due to spanking.” Agrees consulting psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria, “Spanking reduces confidence, affects self-esteem, causes depression and often lowers the emotional quotient of a child.”

Robert Larzelere, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha also says that parents should never resort to spanking as their initial technique in disciplining their children. “But if reasoning does not work, and neither do nonphysical punishments – like time-outs or taking away desserts – a spanking could be beneficial,” he said. All of them unanimously advocate is that spanking children is totally unwarranted for and parents should not pass on personal baggage on to their children.

So how do you drive a strong message to your child without spanking him or her? Elizabeth Gershoff, a researcher at Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty advises, “Parents should to the best of their ability avoid using corporal punishment and instead use non-physical and more positive types of discipline that we know are effective.”

Here are the alternatives:

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Non-violent discipline: Non-violent discipline consists of both punitive and non-punitive methods, but does not include any forms of corporal punishment such as smacking or spanking.
Scolding: You could correct discipline your child by criticizing his/her negative behaviour and actions. Reproving (calm but firm scolding) is preferable to yelling, causing the occasional raised voice in more severe circumstances to have greater effect. But remember, scolding all the time may lessen its effectiveness.
Isolation: Send the child away to another room after misbehaviour (by this we don’t mean locking the child in a dark room, but just asking the child to leave the room and sit in another one away from you) or ask him or her to stand in the corner for a period of time.
Try creating logical consequences: This can be best explained by an example. Let your child know the deadlines set have to be met. And if your child comes home later than the set deadline, he or she cannot go out to play the next day.
Positive re-enforcements: Just as verbal praise may be a powerful reinforcer for your child. So make sure that whenever your child does the right thing, praise them. You could also give your child tangible rewards to stop bad behaviour. Like every time your child finishes the homework on time, make something he or she loves to eat.
Did you know: An increasing number of parents and child behavioralists are recommending that spanking and physical punishments should never be used. Thirty US states have banned corporal punishments from schools, and several other countries, mainly in Europe and Latin America, have banned its practice completely at schools and as well as at home.

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