Spare the Rod? Is Spanking a Child Harmful or Helpful? – Part 4 – Does spanking teach a child that anger and frustration justify the use of physical force?

Opposition to parents spanking their children has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past few years. And, my blogs on spanking are among the most read of those I publish. Therefore, I’ve decided to, with the help of the research of my friends Den Trumbull, MD, S. DuBose Ravenel, MD, to look a the arguments used against spanking, to see if they hold any water. This is the fourth of a 12 part series.

Argument #3: Since parents often refrain from hitting until the anger or frustration reaches a certain point, the child learns that anger and frustration justify the use of physical force.

Counterpoint:

A study published in Pediatrics indicates that most parents who spank do not spank on impulse, but purposefully spank their children with a belief in its effectiveness.[4]

Furthermore, the study revealed no significant correlation between the frequency of spanking and the anger reported by mothers.

In point of fact, the mothers who reported being angry were not the same parents who spanked.

Reactive, impulsive hitting after losing control due to anger is unquestionably the wrong way for a parent to use corporal punishment.

Eliminating all physical punishment in the home, however, would not remedy such explosive scenarios. It could even increase the problem.

When effective spanking is removed from a parent’s disciplinary repertoire, he or she is left with nagging, begging, belittling, and yelling, once the primary disciplinary measures-such as time-out and logical consequences-have failed.

By contrast, if proper spanking is proactively used in conjunction with other disciplinary measures, better control of the particularly defiant child can be achieved, and moments of exasperation are less likely to occur.

Citation:

[4] Socolar, Rebecca R. S., M.D. and Stein, Ruth E.K., M.D., “Spanking Infants and Toddlers: Maternal Belief and Practice,” Pediatrics 95 (1995): 105-111.

Here’s the entire series:

You can read more of my blogs on spanking here:

By the way, an introduction is in order. Den A. Trumbull, MD is a board-certified pediatrician in private practice in Montgomery, Alabama. He is Vice President of the American College of Pediatricians. S. DuBose Ravenel, MD is a board-certified pediatrician in private practice in High Point, North Carolina. He served for 11 years on the pediatric faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine prior to entering private practice.

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