Michael and Debi Pearl’s book To Train Up a Child says so, and with 660,000 books sold, a lot of people must agree. And the authors give specific instructions: If you spare the rod, you hate your child…. Spanking must cause pain.
That’s the Pearls’ answer to a dilemma every parent faces: “What’s the best, most loving way to teach my child self-control (good behavior)? Should I follow a religious belief (Personally, I can’t find the cause pain Bible reference), or should I follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation about using nonphysical disciplinary methods?”
Here’s my answer after counseling more than 2,500 families: Don’t use spanking until you’ve exhausted all other “I really mean business” parenting approaches. Consider these points as you grapple with your answer.
Children must learn self-control. A child’s inborn orientation is my way or the highway. Young children have limited self-control skills that help them show consideration to others or socially appropriate behavior. But the skills can be successfully taught. The self-control part of the brain is not fully developed until twenty years of age. That’s a lot of potentially frustrating parenting years. Bottom line: It’s your job to teach self-control from the get-go. The cost of failure is huge. the tiger that came to tea london
Self-control requires fear. From the toddler years all the way through adolescence, impulsive actions are the only way to go. When toddler Adam’s sister grabs his toy truck, he gets angry and hits her. Tween Eva sends an explicit iPhone picture to a potential boyfriend. Only fear of what will happen if I do this will stop the thought and action of I feel like doing this now. Too much fear is detrimental. A respected 2010 study found aggression levels of five-year-old children are 50 percent higher when from age three spanking occurred more than twice a month (Pediatrics, April 12, 2010).
Loving limit-setting achieves healthy self-control. To a child, love means my parents respect me for who I am down deep inside, but I do need to learn good behavior. Setting firm limits with consistent consequences provides the necessary fear to instill the all-important thought, I’d better not do what I want to do or I’ll get into trouble. And the child feels respected.
Spanking aggressively attacks both the bad behavior and the child’s deep-down sense of self-respect. That’s big-time fear. Physical pain and humiliation do stop inappropriate behavior-most of the time. But why use this approach when there are far better alternatives?