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Mother Hitting Young Daughter

What Message Does Spanking Send to a Child

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Perhaps you were spanked as a child and now you feel like you’ve matured into a good person and it’s time to make some decisions on rules and discipline for your own children. Or, perhaps the thought of spanking your child in only the most serious circumstances connects with you. If you are a parent spanking your child, or seriously considering spanking as a discipline option, experts say you should take some time to understand the message that a parent who spanks their child is sending.

Hitting Someone You Love Is OK

In some cities in the country, parents caught spanking their children have been arrested for battery and charged with a misdemeanor crime. Spanking fits every definition of a crime: it is the intentional harmful touching of another without their consent. Does the fact that you are striking someone you love with good intentions change the perception your child has when he or she is spanked? All the child knows is that they were hit; it hurt, and it was supposed to be in their best interests. Does that make it OK for a child to hit a sibling, or to spank a close friend, if they are “only trying to help” in some way?

It’s Good to Be Big and Strong

Research indicates that children who were spanked often develop behavioral problems and, in some cases, grow up to become bullies. Certainly, one of the messages a child receives is that someone who is bigger and stronger – the parent – is totally in control of the situation. The child’s opinions on discipline and parenting, as well as their side of whatever happened to trigger the spanking, are irrelevant. What matters is that adults can hit kids if they think it’s necessary – or even if they just want to – because children are too small and weak to do anything about it.

A Child’s Feelings Aren’t Always Important

Studies show that spanking leads to reduced self-esteem, anger and fear. Your child may not be able to identify all of these feelings, but they certainly know they are sad and angry when they are spanked and that doesn’t seem to matter to their parents. Spanking also leaves a child uncertain about how to act in the future. Spanking may very well stop a child from taking a certain action. However, this type of discipline falls short of teaching a child what they should be doing, instead of what they were doing.

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