Point/Counterpoint: Spare the rod, spoil the child?

How come parents today seem to think just because they were raised one way, means it was the right way? That idea may work with some things, but the idea of punishing your kids by striking them is wrong. Your parents hit you and you turned out OK, right? Well some donít. Why must a mother or a father deliberately inflict pain on a child in order to get them to comply with their demands? Younger children have a difficult time understanding the concept and older children should be taught, not tortured. Kids need positive reinforcement, not negative fear. All your kid is going to learn is that when he is older, itíll be all right to beat his kids. Ė TDM

There is a fine line between punishing your child and inflicting intentional pain. If you have ever read up about spanking, you will find that the real way to spank a child is not to cause them pain, but to ultimately embarrass them. As a parent Ė and unlike the other half of this debate, I happen to be one Ė I agree that there are times that spanking a child is necessary. I was spanked as a child and I grew up learning that I was spanked when I did something very wrong because my parents also taught me values and respect. Punishing a child is much different than smacking your child around because you simply feel like doing it. Ė JSO

Why do parents have to strike their children at all? What does spanking a child achieve that canít be achieved another way? Hitting a child has become an action more convenient for an adult to get immediate results Ė itís the easy way out. Look, you could sit your child down, you can talk to them and try to calm them or even ignore them ... at least make an attempt to teach them; or you can simply knock them upside the head so they stop out of fear. The world has changed. Look at any common law in the 1970s and compare it to how they are enforced today Ė drunk driving, fist fights, under age drinking and many others. These things are not taken lightly anymore and they shouldnít be. Itís only a matter of time before this violent tradition of child development is also brought under intense scrutiny. Itís just wrong. There are better ways. Donít you want the best for your child? Ė TDM

ďThe bestĒ is something most parents, I would think, want for their children. I donít think sitting on them will work either by the way, but I still say there is a fine line with this issue and it can be crossed easily. It can be crossed by parents for numerous reasons and hiding behind the fact that they were hit as children is no excuse. There comes a time when individuals become parents and they have to take responsibility for their own actions and not blame what they do on their parents. Maybe itís generational, maybe itís the cowardís way of saying they too have a problem and itís not their children. The underlying issues can also be at fault for this behavior. Sometimes sitting in their room surrounded by toys or in the corner for five minutes simply doesnít work. More often than not, people spank their children out of fear. I have seen many parents who smack their childrenís hands because it was a reaction they had when they saw their toddler going to touch the hot oven. Is this wrong too? Ė JSO

It is all about fear. Fear of pain or embarrassment and thatís what the problem is. Fear can influence a child in a very negative way. Hitting often leads to the child learning at an early age to strike at other children. Your child learns your behavior and as they grow that behavior will become a character flaw. Children need love and understanding. Fear is not the only way to achieve discipline; communication can do a better job. Negative reinforcement is only temporary and a child learns to do bad things just when youíre not around. If the parents arenít there, the fear isnít there; however with communication a childís actions become their personal choice and will have a better chance of being repeated with or without parental presence. Fear is power, but fear is not respect. Ė TDM

Growing up my dad played bad cop and yes I probably did fear him, but on the other hand I knew what was expected of me and I respect my dad completely. He did not beat me, but he did discipline and spank. When he was younger he had to pick his own switch from the tree to get beaten with; how is that for fear? Parenting is about love, communication and many other things. If you spank your child, it does not mean you donít love them. Spanking is not beating. Communication is positive and honestly when parents spank their children, they should follow it with positive reinforcement and open communication. About the time you have children, we will come back to this debate and I will see how you feel. You never know how you will be with your children until you have some. Ė JSO

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