Spare the rod and spoil the child?
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.
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