New Kansas Law Could Allow Spanking of Children that Causes Redness and Bruising: Say What?

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And let's talk about the idea of teaching a child to "submit to authority regardless of whether or not they agree." What will you do when you've taught your child this idea so well that when some other authority figure (a teacher? a doctor? an uncle or grandparent?) proposes something sexual to your child? When they say, "Don't tell anyone or I'll hurt you," and your child closes their eyes and does what they're told because they have been told to accept authority and discipline no matter what?

Children have the option to obey or face the consequences, and they need to know consequences hurt.

I am in total agreement that children need to have consequences for their actions. I believe wholeheartedly that there is a course of action that must be taken when a child is deliberately defiant of a parent. We do not make rules lightly -- usually we make them with the safety of our children as our primary concern. So it's baffling to me that anyone would choose to physically or mentally hurt their child in order to protect them. Frankly it makes no sense.

Surely a better way of dealing with it is to take away a favorite toy or place them in a time out? Get down on their level and speak to them face to face, explaining exactly why you are upset with them. Kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for. And yes, I realize that it is next to impossible to use logic with a two-year-old. But I feel that it is a lazy parent that uses violence to prove a point.

Before I go any further, I must admit that I have several friends and family members who regularly spank their kids. These are rational, wonderful people who have proven themselves as logical thinkers and givers of time and effort to making the world a better place. Being a parent who chooses to spank their child does not make one a bad person. But when speaking to them about their decision, I have found one theme that runs through each of their admissions: Guilt.

Without fail, each of them has said to me that they feel guilty for spanking their kids. They wish they knew of a better way to get through to them. They admit that they are driven to it out of desperation. They are at their wit's end, and it is the only thing that works. They have tried time outs, they have tried distraction, and they have tried positive reinforcement. They have even tried ignoring the bad behavior and only responding to good behavior. But again and again they feel cornered and forced into spanking to get their kids to behave. A close friend says, "It hurts me more than it hurts them, anyway."

So why do it? Why hurt yourself and feel guilty for something that isn't actually working? After all, the bad behavior continues, obviously, or they'd never have to spank again, right?

The truth is that whether you spank or not, whether you use positive reinforcement or not, every child will go through phases in his or her life where they disobey, defy and act out against authority. You try and teach them through your actions and your words how to behave, and maybe it takes them time to get there -- but they do.

My three-year-old took well over two-and-a-half years before we could get him to sleep in his own bed. We tried everything we could think of. We tried different routines, we slept on the floor of his room, we bribed him, we gave him a television, treats and even his own phone to try and keep him in bed. But it took forever. My one year old son managed it before his first birthday and now sleeps 13 hours a night. What did we do differently? Nothing, really. We just put him in his bed and didn't let him out. It took two nights for him to realize that he got a much better night sleep in his own bed than on his lumpy mother.

The point? Every kid is different, and nothing lasts forever. The terms "terrible twos" and "horrible threes" were coined for a reason. Kids test boundaries and push your patience to the limits because that is how they learn about the world. Your explosive outbursts (including spankings!) are painful but also interesting. When your reaction is less effusive, they soon lose interest.

In essence, spanking your kid for being a normal kid is lazy parenting at best and morally wrong at worst.


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