Spank your kid smart

Political cartoon from 1860 depicting Stephen ...

Image via Wikipedia

I love it when a new study on parenting comes out and proves that yet again, there are too many studies on parenting. Apparently a psychology professor sat down and thought, “Hmm, why don’t I conduct some research to show all those people that say we shouldn’t physically harm our children are just a bunch of know-it-all jerks.” Or something.

I actually have no idea why someone would set out to prove that hitting our kids may not be a bad idea after all. But Marjorie Gunnoe did and she found that if you spank children under the age of six they could have a better chance at school success. However, spanking kids over the age of six is actually harmful so let’s just stick to the little ones. Hunter prof, Tracy Dennis tries to decode Gunnoe’s logic –

Most parents spank young kids to keep them safe, Dennis explains. A parent may slap a toddler’s hand if they touch a hot stove, or spank a child who runs into the street. In that context, she says, a smack can be considered a way to keep a child out of danger or to assert parental authority, she says.

via Spanking makes kids perform better in school, helps them become more successful: study.

How can hitting a child when they’re already terrorized by you freaking out because they’re about to hurt themselves be a good thing? You think the stakes need to be upped in that situation? Again, we’re talking about children under the age of six. When my daughter was two she didn’t understand that running into the street could get her killed, but maybe if I gave her a beating she would have? Or most likely she would have been so frightened of me that our relationship as trusted caregiver/caregivee would have been ruined forever along with any sense of safety, self-esteem, security…but hey, those SATs – top notch! There are many, many ways to “assert parental authority” – saying no, for example.

The blowback from this study is significant so I’m not concerned that people everywhere will be changing their parenting tactics as a result of this article. But I am concerned if even one person reads this and uses it as justification for smacking their four-year-old. Jeez, can’t we all agree that hitting tiny people who depend on you for every damn thing – most importantly their personal safety – is never a good idea?

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6 Responses to Spank your kid smart

  1. There are studies for everything. How is there so much money to conduct all of these studies but barely enough money to educate children? It’s insanity. This is definitely a study that didn’t need to be done. It sounds like somebody was spanked, went on to spank their kids and doesn’t see what the gripe is about. The point is you shouldn’t ever teach a child anything with violence. That just raises a generation of violent kids.

  2. pdeverit says:

    Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

    Child buttock-battering (euphemistically labeled “spanking”,”swatting”,”switching”,”smacking”, “paddling”,or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

    Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

    I think the reason why television shows like “Supernanny” and “Dr. Phil” are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

    There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak,

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson,

    by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

    Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research with the recommended reads-visit

    Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea:

    American Academy of Pediatrics,
    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
    Center For Effective Discipline,
    Churches’ Network For Non-Violence,
    Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
    Parenting In Jesus’ Footsteps,
    Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
    United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  3. pdeverit says:

    The vast majority of professionals agree that child buttock-battering isn’t healthy. A marginal few (mostly religious fundamentalists as those at Calvin) think that child bottom-slapping is good. They use the same selective literalist interpretation of the Bible as was used to justify “witch”-burning, depraved torture methods for those accused of sin and heresy, slavery, racism, wife-beating, oppression of women and a host of other social ills.

  4. inmyhumbleopinion says:

    Honestly, I think we all just have to throw out the parenting books and trust our own instincts. “Conventional wisdom” is usually never all that wise, and all the different schools of thought are essentially based on two key things: (1) frequent interaction with your children builds their brains, and (2) use discipline (preferably the non-violent kind) to modify undesirable behavior. Kids are way more resilient than we give them credit for which softens the many missteps of new parents. Parents are not perfect, and the sooner children learn that, the better off they will be.

    • inmyhumbleopinion says:

      Oh, and I’ll add one more thing: (3) don’t be a wimp; parents have to have a united front (even if they disagree)because kids need consistency of message.

      • April Peveteaux says:

        Excellent point. Even in the short time we’ve been parents, it’s so obvious the key to discipline is the parental united front. I’ve seen (hasn’t everyone?) soooo many examples of bad behavior that are direct result of mom saying ‘no’ and dad saying ‘yes’ and vice versa. It can be difficult, especially when you’re new at this parenting game, but it’s crucial. Thanks for your input!

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