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Related links


Unschoolers and Spanking links to pages about spanking issues on Sandra Dodd's site.


No More Spanking -- alternatives to spanking in the list archives.


8 Admonitions to Parents Who Chose to Spank by Dr. Sears.

Why do parents still spank?


It's been a loooong time since I faced a post in support of spanking. I'd like to think it's because parents don't do it any more! I know , though, it's just because I don't hang out where spanking parents post.


Looking through the answers here, I think the reason that spanking parents and non-spanking parents arguments fall flat on each other is because they have very different ideas about what's wrong with kids and what skills kids need. Neither side can win because they aren't having the same argument.


Kids who will resist the wrong choices.

Parents who spank and use harsh punishments see children as inherently selfish. It's assumed that kids make selfish choices because they're more appealing. Unless trained to make the right choices, children will think only of themselves, not caring about others' needs.


Kids who can make the right choices.

Conventional parents see children as not yet able to make the right choices. The parents' role is to give kids guidance, then opportunities to choose right. If the kids don't, then the parents step in to correct them.


There's some truth in both ideas.


Little kids definitely do focus on their own needs. In fact that's all they can do. Before age 8 seeing from another's view is difficult. If they never have help taking another's needs into consideration, they'll keep on making selfish choices. It makes it seem like selfishness is children's nature when it's because they just haven't seen how to balance their own needs along with someone else's.


Kids do lack the knowledge and experience to make the right choices. For radical unschooling, though, that doesn't then mean they need taught. It means they need experience and support in making choices.


Kids who can make thoughtful choices.

Radical unschooling parents see children like visitors from a foreign country. They don't understand the rules of this land. When they make a mistake, punishment won't help them understand. They need patience and trust that they do want to become competent and support and coaching while they figure things out.



[From a fundamentalist Christian list] All children can learn to sit still, but it will require that you assert your will over theirs. It will often require some discipline, but it can easily be done.


Her children learned early to trust and obey their parents.


If my husband slapped me for wiggling until I didn't wiggle for an hour, I might act as though I trusted him. It might look to other people as though I trusted him. But I'd be obeying because I feared him. I'm not sure why people believe that children have different emotional reactions than adults do.


I also think obedience is overrated. Of course I do want my daughter to listen when I yell "Stop!" And she does because she rarely hears a loud command so "Stop!" does get her immediate attention.


But in other matters I'd much rather model ways to work out conflicts between us that my daughter could be using to resolve conflicts with others. She's looking to me to see how to handle situations. If I, in my "infinite parental wisdom", choose to resolve conflicts by being bigger and stronger and inspiring of fear, then why shouldn't I expect her to emulate that? If I want her to do better I need to show her better ways to resolve differences.



I want to assure you that because an individual includes physical tools in their training repertoire, it doesn't necessarily equate to either abuse (though I am certain many will dispute that) or that physical remains the only tool available.


Your reassurances that it's possible to combine hitting and other parenting tools are irrelevant.


What's relevant is that it's difficult for people not to reach for a quick and easy tool. As a general parenting philosophy keeping hitting in the parenting tool box allows parents to use hitting at their discretion. Their discretion can mean never. It can mean always. The philosophy offers no test to guide parents into determining when it is right and when it is wrong. You're just assuming, by reassuring us, that people will use it responsibly. There are plenty of parents that prove you wrong.


Bottom line, though, is that hitting hurts a child. It hurts a child physically. It hurts a child psychically. It hurts a relationship. To minimize those bad effects takes a lot of relationship building.


But for what? Why pour all that extra energy into minimizing the bad effects of something that's a poor solution to a problem? Why take the chance that the parenting won't minimize the bad effects? There are much better ways.


There are families here with great kids who have never struck their children. We can help other families figure out how to do that to. I really don't want to provide a list that helps parents figure out ways to hit their child. It's a real safe bet that Pam and Sandra don't either.


Why does it seem that when a person selects a method that is unpopular it is automatically the only "parenting tool" accessible in the oppositions mind?


No one assumes that spanking is the only method someone who spanks uses.


But hitting and spanking are quick and easy solutions. If those quick and easy tools are in someone's parenting tool box, that parent isn't challenged to find better solutions. They always have the quick and easy solution at hand. They may not always reach for it. They may reach for it only once or twice. But the fact that it's always available means they could use it.


If someone removes those tools from their personal box, then they have to find other solutions. We can help them come up with better solutions.


Why too is it that Love and Physical tools are considered anathema?


I wouldn't want my husband to hit me because he loved me. Hitting doesn't say love to me. It says power and control. I don't see power and control as love.


These are not necessarily oil and water. Perhaps it would be useful for those who see these systems in those terms (diametrically opposed) might revisit their own fears.


I fear that if I hit my daughter I'll hurt her. I fear that she will fear me. I fear that she will choose to hide from me something that she'd get hit for. I fear that she will decide the determining factor on whether she should do something is whether she'll get caught and punished for it.


Could all those fears be worked around? Yes. If I felt the positive effects of hitting were well worth the negative effects I would work really hard to figure out a way to maintain my child's trust while still being able to hit her.


But I don't think the positives outweigh the negatives. I think hitting is hurting someone because they aren't doing what you want them to. I think it models for kids that it's okay to hit someone when they aren't doing what you want them to.


Restraint and cognition is operative here without it nothing, including love, is effective.


Are you saying that you won't hit a child unless you've thought it through and decided it's absolutely necessary?


There are parents here who have never struck their child. Not because their children have never behaved in ways that would cause a parent to strike. But because they found better solutions to the situation. They didn't allow themselves to use hitting to resolve issues. They had to find something else.


If we see children as fellow humans who sometimes don't understand how the world works, we can figure out how to the help them figure it out without hitting them.


since none among you can consider judicious application of physical corrections.


I can consider it. I choose not to because it's damaging to the child and the relationship. It shows my child that after dozens of years on the planet I've found that hitting a smaller person is the best way to resolve an issue. (If it's not the best, then why else would I use it?)


I would rather apply a thought out punishment for unacceptable behavior than be given to flights of animal rage


I would rather treat my daughter as a fellow human being who doesn't understand how the world works and then to help her figure out better ways to handle a situation than either of those options.


I would rather model for my daughter that when needs conflict that there are better ways to solve the problem than by being bigger and stronger and hitting someone.


If a my child disregards rules that have been developed for the protection and safety of that child, or where the property of others is concerned, then that child is given an escalating form of punishment.


If they understand the rules and the rules are sensible why are they pushing the limits repeatedly?


If they don't understand the rules then hitting isn't an explanation.


If the rules don't make sense then hitting doesn't make the rules make sense.


If a child needs something that the rules prevent her from having, then it's up to the parents to help her get that in a safe way not put up barriers and punishments.


You don't agree that there is any case where a child could escalate to a point where a physical reprimand is in order and I don't agree.


If this were a debate of theory -- like whether intelligent life exists on other planets -- then we couldn't take the debate any further than agreeing or disagreeing.


But people who have thoughtfully chosen not to hit their children know it isn't necessary because they have kids -- sometimes challenging kids -- and they don't hit them. They have found ways to solve problems that don't involve hitting.


People can bring problems here that they would solve with hitting a child. We can help them find ways that don't involve hitting if they want to find ways to live more peacefully with their children.


(A better place is the NoMoreSpanking list (subscribe). It isn't a list to debate spanking but a place to find other ways to solve problems.)


So, we don't agree. You believe that it will lead to long term injury, psychic damage. We don't agree.


If hitting is damaging to adults, why is it not damaging to children?


Treating children in ways that would be damaging to adults gets justified by the fact that children are different. But the justification isn't well supported. Just because children are different doesn't mean they are some other creature entirely.


Children's understanding of the world isn't the same as an adult's but they can understand that someone hitting them to make them stop hitting doesn't make sense. They can understand that it doesn't make sense for someone who says they love them and will protect them to hit them. They can understand that it's a whole lot better to be bigger and stronger than smaller and weaker.


Different isn't stupid.


You (again meaning the listers who have responded) don't seem to understand that as adults we have hopefully already been trained and don't need physical reminders ever


Training implies that people choose to behave acceptably because of negative associations (from punishment) with unacceptable behavior.


As an adult I choose behavior that makes sense, not because I've been trained not to make unacceptable choices.


My daughter, being human, also chooses behavior that makes sense to her. She's trying to meet her needs and choosing what seems the best way to do that. If she chooses ways that are hurtful or dangerous, it's up to me to make sure she and others are safe and then help her figure out what she wants and help her figure out better ways of getting it.


She's a thinking human being who needs help meeting her needs and figuring out how the world works.


There are better ways that people can solve differences than by hitting each other. As an adult I should be able to come up with better ways to resolve conflicts with a smaller human who lacks my understanding of the world than by hitting her.


Children IMO aren't mini adults. Their long term consequential thinking isn't developed until their late teens and more typically early twenties. So application of cause and effect is far more functional until that time when the frontal lobes of the brain "close" making long term consequential thinking concrete.


Sounds fancy. Doesn't match my observations though.


True, a child doesn't experience the world the same as an adult. Their needs are different. Their understanding is different.


But just because they don't have the same capacity to think things through as an adult does, doesn't mean they're incapable of thought and that, therefore, the only means to stop their unacceptable behavior is hitting them.


Children will perceive the world differently when they're older, because 1) someone is helping them understand and 2) because their brains function differently because of age.


In the meantime, we can work to understand what the world looks like to them and work with their understanding rather than punishing them because they don't have the capacities, knowledge and skills that an adult does.



Does everyone here believe that it is impossible to practice "unschooling" in terms of academics while also spanking children to correct intolerable social behavior?


Can unschooling work with spanking?


Maybe a better question is, since there are better ways, why would someone want to try?


You can run with lead sneakers, but why would you want to?


For someone who doesn't see negative consequences to spanking, it's like not realizing there are shoes without lead. So they're recommending their brand of shoes not realizing that other shoes are much better and their lead shoes are holding them back.


If we see clashes with our children not as children disobeying but as two people who have needs that are not meshing, then hitting looks like the tool of powerful person without the interpersonal skills to problem solve. So they resort to violence.


When hitting is seen as a tool of a strong person hurting a weak person to make them do what the strong person wants them to, hitting looks like a tool with little thought behind it.


Not that I have seen any arguments as to why this may be true


Does anyone need a forum to help them hit their children better? Hitting, as Tracey points out, is part of our nature. It doesn't take intellectual discussion to figure out how to hit a child to make him stop doing something.


It does take discussion to figure out other and better ways.


If someone wants to keep hitting in their parenting tool box, that's their choice. But does it need offered on the list? Is there anyone who wants to hit their child who doesn't know how to go about hitting? What we'd like to provide are the other ways to solve problems that people don't necessarily know about.


So far no problem has come through the list that everyone has agreed that hitting the child was the only solution. There are people who don't want to give up hitting and don't see the benefits of trying something they see as more difficult. But other, better, more respectful solutions have always been offered.



Joyfully Rejoycing
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