November 06, 2006

Spanking and Other Punishments

Another in Series of Letters from Concerned Parents

(If you would like to submit a question for Mac to answer please feel free to post your question at the bottom of the page!)

Dear Mac,

I plan to order your tapes, but first I'd like to know if you are in favor of, or opposed to spanking.


Mom in Florida

Dear Mom,

The short answer to your question about "Spanking"; is: NO, I do not advocate spanking!

Now, please let me explain my answer before you stop reading!

First of all, I prefer the term "Hit" rather than the term "Spank" because I believe that it more accurately describes what is happening. So for the rest of my answer to your question, let me just use the word "hit" in place of "spank". I think it kind of changes one’s view of the action. Calling it spanking kind of makes it sound more justified.
Spanking Does Not Work!

I am opposed to hitting kids as a means of teaching, not because I am inherently opposed to hitting as a teaching technique, but rather, I am opposed to it because it simply does not work! Hitting does not teach! At least rarely teaches the lesson that you want it to teach. (I do believe that it teaches children that the biggest person gets to hit. I think that it teaches children that hitting is an approved way to solve problems. I believe that it teaches children that the oldest and most experienced person gets to hit. But it rarely if ever teaches the child the desired lesson.)

I will grant you that hitting a child may stop a behavior for the immediate present but it does not teach a child how to reach the decision to change their behavior in the future. They may stop to avoid the punishment but the minute that the punishment is no longer imminent, the behavior often returns. Often the child will just learn to be really "sneaky" about doing it so as to not get caught and thus avoid the punishment.
Punishment Has Been Proven to NOT Work

Punishment of all kinds has been proven to fail at all levels. Prisons are monuments to that very fact. 7 out of 10 men sent to prison will re-offend within a year of being released! I work in prisons with parents who are incarcerated and I see what happens when we lock people up and do not teach them how to be or act differently. (Please understand that I am NOT saying that we could just do away with prisons. They serve a purpose to protect our society; but, the only prisons that work to prevent crime, like the prisons in Bristol County, Massachusetts and the state of Idaho, are the ones that actually have programs that teach the offenders how to think and act differently!)
Spanked and Sent To My Room

My gosh, I was sent to my room at least 5000 times for teasing my sisters. Many of those times I was spanked before being sent to my room. I was told to "go to my room and think about how to treat my sisters!" I did. But the ideas that were running through my head following my spankings were never the ideas that my parents wanted to rule my world!

In my room, I thought about how I was going to grab my sisters as soon as I got out of my room and drag them out behind the barn and hold their heads under water in the horse through for tattling on me. Then I thought about how I would tie their braids in knots and how I would throw their toy horses in the creek and many other diabolical schemes. I also thought about how I hated my parents and how they were unfair to always take the side of my sisters and how I was going to run away from home. I doubt that any of those ideas were what my parents wanted or intended to teach me when the spanked me and sent me to my room!
Teaching the Desired Behavior Is Much More Effective

It would have been so much easier, more helpful, and much, much more effective if my parents had taught me how to get along with my sisters before I had offended them!
Punishment Is Failure Based!

Another reason that spanking fails to teach is that punishment is failure based. In order to use punishment as a strategy, by definition, you must wait for the child to fail first before you can use it! (Unless, you are going to spank your kids before they misbehave!)

For demonstration sake, let's just imagine that I am going to try to teach you how to use a computer. Imagine that you know nothing about operating a computer. I sit you down in front of the computer and set about teaching you to operate that complex machine via spanking. To do this I sit next to you and hit you with a leather strap right across the back of the hands every time you make a mistake or push a wrong button!
Now, after a week of spanking your hands, even until I made your hands bleed, but I doubt that you would ever have just discovered that pressing the Ctrl button simultaneously with the P button would make a printer print what is on the screen! Your hands would hurt. You would probably be mad at me. You would probably never voluntarily sit down at the computer. And... I'm quite sure that you would never have "self-discovered" that Ctrl, Alt, and Del pressed simultaneously would free you from any program you could not un-jam!
Punishment would bring about sore hands, a hatred of computers and resentment of my leather strap, and most likely a resentment of me; but I seriously doubt that the repeated spankings would ever teach you much of anything useful about operating a computer!
A Simple and Clear Explanation of the Desired Behavior Works Much More Effectively!

Wouldn't it be much smarter and much more effective for me to simply explain those simple key strokes to you before you began making mistakes?
Your Child's Life Is Like Learning to Operate a Computer!
Your child's life is very much like operating a computer. Certain actions bring about certain results. Why wait for them to make the wrong action and then spank them? Why not explain to them how to make good decisions and good actions ahead of time? "You know son, the 'Ctrl, Alt, Del' for life is a smile. If things are not going well, just give someone a smile! If you don't feel like smiling, fake it for a moment and rest assured that someone will give you a reason to smile!"

If you wish to hear more, watch Tape 9 of our Parenting with Dignity course. Just a note... the whole curriculum will be of ten times as much value to you if you watch them with other parents.


Mac Bledsoe

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welll, this article game me more to think about than I can assimilate right now. For me, as a Mom, to teach behaviors I want BEFORE my kids encounter situations requires my brain to shift big time. I am thinking "anticipation" rather than "reaction". I already feel calmer. No wonder your curriculum has the word "dignity" in it. I have not been a dignified mother but I feel it coming on.