Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Hit or Not to Hit?

Spanking, slapping, hitting, and cocotasos (hard raps to the head with a fist) were disciplinary actions I grew up with. I was ok with spanking and hitting hands and planned to do so with my children. However, since becoming a mother and researching discipline, I have changed my mind.

I do not think physical discipline is the right answer. Yes, it works in stopping certain behaviors--I remember quitting my actions at the threat of a spanking!--but it is not a good and effective method in the long run.

The attachment parenting Web site sums it up best: "Hitting your son would teach him to fear you rather than trust you and would model that violence is an acceptable way to change someone else's behavior. Hitting will anger and humiliate him, but it won't be effective at teaching him to regulate his emotions or to control his impulses."

1. Fear
This was true in my childhood. I feared my parents' anger. I do not want my child to behave out of fear, especially fear of his parents. I want him to behave because he knows it is right. I read in an article in BYU Magazine about teaching children to make choices based on right and wrong, not on disappointing or sorrowing their parents (or anyone else, for that matter). This way they develop a conscience and moral code that will guide them throughout their lives.

2. Violence
Violence is not an acceptable way to change someone else's behavior. I do not want my son thinking, "Mommy hits me to get me to stop, so I will hit my little brother/sister to get him/her to stop!" Besides, it would be hypocritical to stop my son from hitting others by hitting him.

3. Humiliation
I remember a time when my mother slapped me at 16 or 17. I felt extremely angry and humiliated. I do not want my son to feel that way and damage our relationship. I want him to trust and respect me.

4. Control
The point of discipline is to teach children how to tell right from wrong, how to respond to different situations, and how to regulate emotions and control impulses. What kind of example am I setting to my son by losing my temper and acting on it? If I show my son that I can control myself, then he will learn how to as well. This last point is the one I struggle with the most. I am not perfect at not hitting, although I am against it. I have been guilty of smacking my baby's hand when he hits or scratches me, and I am not proud of it. I have to constantly be on guard and remind myself that my son learns by watching me. (I love how parenthood is shaping me into a better person!)

Elizabeth Pantley discusses more thoroughly the faults of spanking and hitting. How do you feel about hitting and other physical discipline?


Rachel said...

Hitting is an extreme. Jesse and I started using swats and spankings and noticed they were not as effective and they made us feel bad too. I don't condone spanking as a form of discipline anymore but hitting... if my child's hand is about to reach for that hot stove for the third time and it is hot you bet I am going to slap his little hand. To stun and sting is better than ending up with 2nd degree burns. To each his own.

Francesca said...

I don't consider that last situation an example of bad hitting. That's more like a quick reaction to get your child out of danger! However, if afterward you were to hit his hand or bum as punishment, then it would not be ok.

Mrs. Sanchez said...

I don't consider slapping a child's hand away from a burner a type of punitive or aggressive punishment either - at all. I think that falls safely in another category - physically stopping a child from harm. I do agree in theory with "to each his/her own" philosophy. I know many people who were spanked who turned out just fine. But I agree with you that positive techniques are SOOO much better.

I remember our conversation about this with Kristen by the pool in San Marcos. Glad you've come around to seeing it my way. ;)

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