FACTS about Spanking.
- Is associated with increased aggression, depression, anxiety, and delinquent behaviors. (Apr 2016 study)
- It reduces gray matter in the brain. Our pre-frontal cortex (where we make good “adult” choices) develops slower and is smaller if we were spanked a lot as a child. (Gray Matter 2009)
- The more you physically punish your children for lack of self control, the less they will actually have. (2012 APA)
Let’s just get this out of the way – Yes- I have spanked my children.
That being said, it’s something I deeply regret and wish I could go back and change. I knew then (and know more now) that it wasn’t an effective strategy, but I was out of resources in that moment.
Here’s what I do now.
- Take inventory of myself. It was never about my child’s behavior when I “lost it”, rather it was about me. I felt alone, tired, overwhelmed, stressed out, etc. If I’m feeling this way, I acknowledge it, often out loud, letting my child hear that Mommy is having a hard day and its not necessarily about them, but I need some help and cooperation in the moment.
- Walk away. Most of the time I just need a little breath. I’ll get my kids to a safe place (They are older now, but when little, this was the crib or with a pile of books) and step outside on the deck and breathe in the fresh air. Occasionally when I’d have so much pent up energy, I’d walk a lap around the house.
- Scream and Yell! Not at my kids, but in the cupboard or at the stuffed animals. Sometimes just a nonsense word or phrase (oooga booga!) and this releases my tension and my kids. They’ve since learned they can yell these at me to help diffuse me as well.
- Prevent as much as possible. This means taking care of myself (physically, mentally, emotionally) and my kids. HANGRY (hungry and angry) is a real thing around here so having food on hand helps us all.
“But I was spanked and I turned out FINE.”
Oh really?! Well did you wear a seatbelt as a child? A 5 point rear-facing harness until you were 2? No?!? But you are fine, why do your children need that? There was a also once a law stating you could hit your wife with a switch no larger than your thumb (rule of thumb) and we no longer allow that either.
The argument that just because you’re fine, means that its okay to hit your child does not make sense to me when SCIENCE says it causes harm. The fact is you are probably fine because your parent(s) also sat you down at the table and talked to you about your behaviors, because they took time to teach you about right/wrong and helped you learn from mistakes.
However, when we KNOW better – We DO better.
If you want some help stopping spanking and finding alternatives that work for you and your family, Contact me.