Monday, March 20, 2017

No More Spankings

I have said this before, but perhaps it's time to mention it again. I will say this. And I try not to address this very often as many parents get upset in thinking they are being attacked. About that.

None of us knows what we're doing raising kids certainly for the first time and kids can be very different. Forcing them into a cookie cutter format is foolish, like with most K-12 schools. We do our best, love them a lot and that seems to work. So some bad ideas come off as good ones. Most parents deserve a lot of respect for a hard job that last at least 18 years.

Parenting is simply picking a path and being the smart one in your parent/child relationship.

It is fundamentally choosing a point of view from which to raise your child and then following it. Walking that path with them while being more clever than them. All while making the child work well for both yourself and the child theirself.

It was explain to us in psychology in college (I got my degree in psych), that once a child understands words, spanking becomes abuse. Why punch someone when words will do, for instance.

For one, pain does not need to be inflicted on a child at all ever. Just the perception. That also goes into S&M sexual behavior. MOST people don't need pain involved, just the perception of it, pressure suffices in most cases to enhance sexual release. If the pain is necessary that gets into deeper issues and can go awry. Just as with spanking with some parents. Some seems good, more is better when it's simply not.

A spanking is typically considered to be repeated strikes when only one is needed. A proper spanking should be one swat on the butt, half a second later, the word NO sternly spoken to associate pain or perceived pain with a verbal comment. So then you can just say NO, and it serves the same purpose. So why hit a child after that. Or after the child can understand spoken language?

What's our most primal response? Fight or flight (also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response). What does your parents beating you invoke in you? Fight or flight. Why in God's name would you invoke that response in your own children? Ah, some might yearn for old school, biblical child rearing, the fear of God concept, or of the parent.

Well, I'd argue that's counter productive in the end. One can manage by fear or love, it's our choice. But you have to ask yourself if you choose fear, and in considering that love does work. Why would you choose fear? For most, because it's quick and easy and considers the child's point of view the very least.

As parents we can become inured to our child's needs out of our own exhaustion and frustration in raising them and in our not having enough freedom and pleasure because we are raising them. Some parents even resent that and will rationalize abusing their child even if ever so slightly over that consideration. We just have to be sure we don't put that on them, when it should be on us. Just because it works for some and we don't see all they do to their children, doesn't mean we should do it ourselves to our own.

There is one more I would add to that: freeze.

IF you're that scared that you can only immobilize, like a deer in headlights, you are literally traumatized to immobility. Again, why would you invoke that in a child you love? If ever you see that response in your child, immediately back the hell off and take another course. You've gone too far.

Or perhaps something else is going on with your child and you need to look into that. In some cases it can relate to their being abused by someone else, if not you if you do not realize it. We all have varying levels at which we react to things. In punishing one of your children the same as another, one might need far less stimuli to invoke the response you are looking for, while another might barely respond to anything you try. To apply that to both, could traumatize one of them and work against the better interests of both parent and child.

When my son was about 3 or 4, spankings never worked with him anyway. I stumbled upon something better. I sat him in the middle of the living room and lectured him for 20 mins on the physics of why he shouldn't do what he did wrong. It was hard to get him to sit, but I walked around him talking, keeping his attention. I was polite, happy, energetic, positive. This was about education, not punishment. I thought it would kill him, so did he.

A couple of days later, he did something just as bad. He didn't want to stop when I asked him to. So I asked him just on a whim to see his reaction, "Son, do you want a lecture again?" He immediately stopped his bad behavior and yelled, "NO, daddy please I don't want a lecture again!"

That worked far better then spanking OR yelling at him, which I also didn't do. Though his mother, esp., after we broke up when he was 4, continued to spank and scream at him. When I got him back at 5, it took years to fix the damage she did in only about 18 months.

Years later in junior high, he did something I needed to punish him for. Instead I talked to him about what he had done. I explained all around the issue trying to sell him on my point of view. Then I assigned him to read a book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

I made it clear it wasn't in any way supposed to be a punishment but that his bad behavior came from a lack of understanding and knowledge. He still took it as punishment. After a while though he didn't and started to see what a cool book it was.

It took him a while to finish that book. He even read it while with his mother part of that summer. By end of summer he had read it all. When he told his friends about it back at school he got two responses. One, they thought that he got an awesome punishment. When he pointed out it wasn't punishment...second, they thought he had an awesome dad. A nice bonus. The point is it did so much more positive and eliminated so much negative in that kind of situation.

He was an unusual child to raise, nothing easy about it. We both had ADHD but his was worse than mine. So I had needed to find different ways to raise him because like me, he saw the world differently.

I got the full gamut of old parenting skills as a child. Whippings, hair yanking, being grounded, etc. My son got "grounded too" in removing stimuli not so much as punishment when young but as some resetting his stimulation levels. The trouble with him like me, was that we just adjusted to the new norm in being grounded. Which robs the parents of any benefit to punishment.

The belief that so much of what is bad today in young people has to do with not spanking then as child is confused and incorrect. There are so many other issues involved in what is going on today. Like every kid getting a trophy for instance, which is just as if not far more damaging.

Spanking as abuse, after they can understand words, comes from not knowing what else to do, frustration in the parent, and parents not having time, energy, or information about what else to do that does work better. In some cases it has been shown that never spanking with some children ever also works.

For one,one cannot claim that all things work for all children. Also in parents screwing up in raising their children, so much can be forgiven if the child feels well loved. The father being in the child's life has also countered much damage in child rearing.

It's a more complicated topic than spare the rod spoil the child, a biblical belief written by ancients who themselves were quite ignorant of so much and a belief system that has damaged the world more than was necessary.

Yet though it served its purpose for thousands of years, it also in part led to the dark ages, and it's dark side rears its defective ugly head from time to time. As we're seeing in American and world politics now. Now it needs to be replaced with something much better. We're getting there on that.

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