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 fifth of a 12 part series.
Argument #4: Physical punishment is harmful to a child.
Any disciplinary measure, whether physical, verbal, or emotional, carried to an extreme can harm a child.
Excessive scolding and berating of a child by a parent is emotionally, relationally, and spiritually harmful. If chronic, it can lead to stress that can even be physically harmful.
Excessive use of isolation (time-out) for unreasonable periods of time can humiliate a child and ruin the measure’s effectiveness.
Obviously, any excessive or indiscriminate physical punishment, or punishment administered in anger, can be harmful and potentially abusive.
However, an appropriately-administered spanking of a forewarned disobedient child is not harmful when administered in a loving controlled manner.
Without the prudent use of spanking for the particularly defiant child, a parent runs the risk of being inconsistent and rationalizing the child’s behavior. This inconsistent manner of parenting is confusing and harmful to the child and is damaging to the parent-child relationship.
There is no evidence that proper disciplinary spanking is harmful to the child.
Here’s the entire series:
- Argument #1: Many psychological studies show that spanking is an improper form of discipline.
- Argument #2: Physical punishment establishes the moral righteousness of hitting other persons who do something which is regarded as wrong.
- 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.
- Argument #4: Physical punishment is harmful to a child.
- Argument #5: Physical punishment makes the child angry at the parent.
- Argument #6: Spanking teaches a child that “might makes right,” that power and strength are most important and that the biggest can force their will upon the smallest.
- Argument #7: Spanking is violence.
- Argument #8: Spanking is an ineffective solution to misbehavior.
- Argument #9: Adults who were spanked as children are at risk for using violence as a means of resolving conflicts as adults.
- Argument #10: Spanking leads a parent to use harmful forms of corporal punishment which lead to physical child abuse.
- Argument #11: Spanking is never necessary.
You can read more of my blogs on spanking here:
- Is Spanking Associated with Child Abuse?
- The ABCD’s of Parenting – Part 7 – Discipline
- Spanking a Child – Is it Good or Bad?
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.