[Apologies for my continued absence here at PFB. I hope to posting again again soon.... 2/24/12]
The question inevitably arises, when should a parent spank a child as an appropriate form of discipline? Certainly people can differ on this one. I come down on the side that there is a place for spankings. So, when to spank and why? Well first, I want to say that it is important to keep in mind that spanking can often devolve into the default one-size-fits-all discipline for a child's disobedience And many parents will gravitate to one extreme or another, either spanking too often or avoiding it altogether. Discipline is not just a punishment but should be at the heart a teaching moment, an exercise that is aimed at changing a child's foolish beliefs and goals. Given that parents can too easily fall into the habit of using discipline merely as the tool employed to stop their child's misbehavior, spankings can devolve into the ultimate go-to in order to enforce obedience, which ironically can result in undermining the very purpose of discipline.
OK, just the initial PFB facts:
- Spanking should be reserved for those acts that involve a child's clear outward defiance of obedience. If you would, the size of the sin is measured more in terms of attitude and motivation behind the disobedience than just the breaking of a rule.
- Spanking should be regarded as a "teaching moment" for the good of your child. Thus the discipline applied should be characterized by strong conviction rather than strong emotion. I'm not saying that as parents we have to act as if we're emotionally detached from our child's disobedience. Rather, understanding that discipline is applied in order to impact and change a child's foolish beliefs and goals of self-centered living, a parent needs be under control in order to take time to explain the particular rule that was disobeyed and why the child's behavior violated that rule. Once the spanking is applied that is it. No recriminations are needed. And it is indeed appropriate and right to comfort your child afterwards. Don't apologize.
- Spanking is an event to be received by the child. It's not an impulsive act, i.e. not an emotional time to lose your cool. It's understandable and OK to be angry, but have your emotions under control. Take time to do that, if necessary, before administering the discipline.
- Remember, underneath that outward act of defiance is not just a rebel, as it were, but a scared individual, unsure of his or her place and value as a person. More is involved than simply raw defiance.
- Withdrawal of a privilege or opportunity for enjoyment. If a privilege (a recreation or toy) is abused then the consequence is to withdrawal it or another such privilege.
- Additional Responsibility. If the misbehavior is a failing to do a responsibility (a chore, homework, etc.) then add a responsibility as a logical consequence.