Spare the rod and spoil the child?

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - GARY DIRENFELD

Q: The CAS is hound­ing me be­cause I spank my kids. So does ev­ery­one else. I think if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. Why don’t they get that?

A: This is quite a con­tro­ver­sial topic per­haps be­cause of the bib­li­cal quote. How­ever, there is am­ple so­cial sci­ence research to sug­gest that at least for some chil­dren, any amount of spank­ing can be harm­ful to their de­vel­op­ment.

For me, the real is­sue isn’t whether or not a par­ent spanks, but how to form car­ing, lov­ing and mu­tu­ally re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships with our chil­dren that pos­i­tively in­flu­ence their be­hav­iour and negate the ne­ces­sity of spank­ing. Through a pos­i­tive and mu­tu­ally re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ship, the par­ent can still set and main­tain bound­aries, ex­pec­ta­tions and rea­son­able be­hav­iour.

Par­ents who do form such re­la­tion­ships tend to have chil­dren who lis­ten and be­have bet­ter than chil­dren whose par­ents are crit­i­cal and puni­tive.

Re­spect­ful strate­gies start in in­fancy by first meet­ing the child’s needs on a timely ba­sis. Be­yond that we hold, cud­dle and tell the baby we love them. We also main­tain a peace­ful home so that what the child wit­nesses is con­sis­tent with what we ex­pect of their be­hav­iour.

As the child be­comes a tod­dler, we ex­pect them to ex­plore. We use re­di­rect­ion when they need guid­ance, and pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment when they are be­hav­ing ap­pro­pri­ately.

Re­di­rect­ion can be re­quired mul­ti­ple times a minute, hour and day dur­ing this stage of life as the child ex­plores and learns bound­aries. Through­out this, we con­tinue to ex­press af­fec­tion and keep them safe from harm. We use our words and share our feel­ings to fur­ther in­flu­ence and shape their be­hav­iour. Our voice is, ide­ally, calm.

From in­fancy through the tod­dler stage and into the school age, we also keep set rou­tines with them. Over time the child learns to in­ter­nal­ize these as a mat­ter of life. We par­tic­i­pate in those rou­tines, such as get­ting them out of bed in the morn­ing, meals, ac­tiv­i­ties and bed­time.

With sta­bil­ity, lots of love and pos­i­tive strate­gies, we are more apt to have well-man­nered and be­haved kids.

With the de­vel­op­ment of pos­i­tive par­ent­ing strate­gies, the need for harsh dis­ci­pline di­min­ishes. At times a stern word or loss of priv­i­lege may be all that is re­quired in a more se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion. The CAS may be able to help you learn these and other strate­gies.

Have a question about fam­ily life? Send it in a brief email to question@your­so­cial­worker.com. Due to the vol­ume of mail, not all ques­tions will re­ceive a re­ply.

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