“We have a parenting alert about spanking. Nearly 70% of Americans say they approve of it but a new study says it could raise the risk of long-term problems for children… what they found was there was no long-term benefits and some potential long-term harms.” Good Morning America Transcript
The controversial new study, which concluded that spanking is tantamount to child abuse and is the root of mental disorders, aggressive behavior, low self-esteem, and poor parent-child relationships, has missed the mark completely.
First, the notion that we can study human children like lab rats and come up with a universal method of raising and disciplining them is not only laughable, it’s detrimental.
No long-term benefits? How is that measured?
In light of this study, Good Morning America (GMA) hosted a segment where a pediatrician was asked, “What are the most effective forms of discipline?” After the list of predictable suggestions (time out, catch them being good, and of course, taking away privileges) host George Stephanopoulos cited taking away the cell phone as the most effective form of discipline in his family. Everyone else on the set agreed: it works like magic.
Over 53 percent of six-year-olds have cell phones today. Many parents cite safety concerns as the reason they buy their children a cell phone at such a young age. I gave our 16-year-olds their first cell phones for safety reasons. These people were driving my car.
Most six-year-olds should be within earshot of an adult at all times. I suspect the truth is that most of these parents simply caved to their kids’ begging. To a six-year-old a cell phone is a real status symbol.
There is more to disciplining than spanking and more to raising children than behavior modification. In everything we do, like it or not, we are teaching our children something.
Critics of spanking say that you are teaching children that hitting is okay. My toddler didn’t get that message when he broke loose from me and ran out into a busy parking lot—once. Long-term benefit? None of my children were ever hit by a car.
How about examining the outcomes of generations? Where’s the study that compares the parenting philosophies of the generation that raised the young men and women who fought, and then thrived, after a World War with the generation whose children suffer from “affluenza.”
Is the way to teach respect for authority, build character, and instill moral behavior to overindulge children from a young age, then use these items as leverage for behavior modification?
Maybe that’s the problem. These are not the attributes we are looking for.
The phenomena of childhood mental disorders, aggressive behavior, low self-esteem, and poor parent-child relationships are not the result of spanking, or else they wouldn’t be more prominent in today’s children when fewer children are spanked than in previous generations.
The goal of proper discipline is not just behavior modification, it’s heart transformation. You don’t accomplish that by mental manipulation, spanking alone, or over indulgence. Foolish young hearts that grow into wise adults require years of cultivation.