Inside this pamphlet you will find valuable information which can change the entire course of your child’s life. Please read it with an open mind. Remember, just as your child has much to learn about life, you too have much to learn so that you can be the best possible parent that you can be.
DEMYSTIFYING THE WORD SPANKING
The word ‘spanking’ is a mystification. That is, it is a word that hides the truth about what you are doing to your child. What you are really doing when you are ‘spanking’ is hitting. Hitting a child is an act of violence. Hitting a child is physical abuse. This is the accurate and honest way to describe what you are doing.
Some parents will say, "But I’m only popping my son on the hand" or "I’m only slapping my daughter on the butt. That’s not hitting." What you need to know is that whatever you choose to call it, whether it be slapping, swatting, smacking, paddling, popping, potching or whuppin’, you are still doing the exact same thing. You are hitting your child and in doing so, you are physically abusing your child.
WHY IT IS NOT YOUR RIGHT TO HIT YOUR CHILD
In the United States there is an ongoing debate over whether or not parents should be allowed to hit their child. The topic is discussed as if the parent has a choice in the matter. Well, the fact of the matter is there is no room for debate and there is no choice. Hitting your child is not an option. It is wrong, period.
This statement rests on the five following universal and eternal truths that apply to all human beings who live on this earth.
1. ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Each person is endowed with the capacity for intelligence and is born with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
2. NO HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO ENSLAVE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING
Each person has the right to be a free person and to make choices about his/her own life.
3. NO HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO SEXUALLY VIOLATE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING
Each person’s body is his/her own private property. Therefore, no one has the right to touch him/her in any way without permission.
4. NO HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO HIT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING (except in self-defense)
Each person’s body is his/her own private property. Therefore, no one has the right to commit an act of violence against him/her in any way.
5. NO HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO DEMEAN, HUMILIATE OR SHAME ANOTHER HUMAN BEING
Each person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
As just stated, "NO HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO HIT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING." Since children are human beings, no one has the right to hit them. Hitting is not an option. It is wrong.
At this point you may not like the ideas being introduced here. It is often upsetting to be presented with new information that presents an opposing view to the one which you have held for so many years.
One reason why this information may be disturbing for you is because you were hit as a child. Now, as an adult, you have come to believe that what your parents did to you was right, even good. Remember just before your parents hit you they would say, "This beating is for your own good," or "Someday you’ll thank me for giving you this whuppin’". Well, you grew up believing your parents and now you are telling your children the exact same thing. What you need to know is that until you face the truth that what was done to you was wrong, you will continue to pass that wrong onto your own child. This is how the cycle of abuse continues.
WHY IT HURTS TO HIT YOUR CHILD
Just as it is important for you to acknowledge the universal and eternal truth, "NO HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO HIT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING" it is also important for you to understand the negative repercussions that result from hitting a child.
1. IT TEACHES CHILDREN THAT HITTING IS AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
The child learns that the way to resolve conflict and work out problems is by using force. Shoving, pushing, pulling, biting, kicking and hitting are used by the child as a means of problem solving. As time goes on, this child may grow into a person who uses violence, threats and coercion in relations with others.
2. CHILDREN DEVELOP NEGATIVE FEELINGS TOWARD THE PARENT
The experience of being hit damages the trust that binds parent and child together. The hit child is less able to see the parent as a source of comfort and protection. Instead, the child learns to associate the parent with the unpleasant feelings of being hit. The parent is now seen as a danger and the child comes to resent his/her mother or father. Simply put, a child cannot love or trust someone who is hurting him/her.
3. THE PARENT DOES NOT LEARN NEW WAYS OF INTERACTING
The easiest thing to do is to hit a child. The parent is simply reacting, not interacting. It takes much more time, energy and patience to sit down and have a two-way conversation with the child, thereby working out differences in a constructive, not destructive manner.
4. IT IS A LEADING CAUSE OF CHILD ABUSE AND VIOLENT DEATHS AMONG CHILDREN IN THIS COUNTRY
Hitting often begins a cycle of violence that escalates both in frequency and severity. What begins as a mild ‘spanking’ turns into an all-out rageful attack as the parent experiences growing anger and frustration. The parent who believes himself/herself to be in control quickly finds out that just the opposite is true.
5. IT GIVES CHILDREN THE MESSAGE THAT THEIR BODY IS NOT THEIR OWN
Hitting teaches the child that adults have ultimate authority over his/her body, including the right to inflict pain. This may contribute to a later acceptance of child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, domestic violence and other forms of victimization.
6. IT IS PHYSICALLY DANGEROUS TO CHILDREN
No part of the body was made for physical punishment. A parent can cause irreparable harm to any part of the body that s/he hits.
THE ONLY THING THAT VIOLENCE TEACHES IS VIOLENCE
One of the misconceptions that parents have about hitting is that it is a form of discipline that teaches the child how to behave. What parents need to know is that violence has never been and never will be a method of teaching. Violence has nothing to do with teaching. It has to do with a parent’s unrealistic expectations, impatience, frustration, and rage. Parents need to learn how to raise their children up, not beat them down.
Some people will say, "So, you think I should just let my kids run wild and have complete control of the house. Oh no, I won’t let my kids run my life!" You are right. You should not allow your children to run wild and to have their way whenever they want. All children need structure and limits. They need guidelines and well-defined boundaries. Providing them with clear and consistent rules contributes to their sense of security and well-being and helps shape their moral and emotional development. Such an environment can best be achieved when the parent uses the following ways to parent.
1. TEACH BY USING EXAMPLES
When explaining potentially dangerous situations use concrete examples to help the child learn. Begin using examples at about age two. For instance - not touching electrical outlets, plugs, or light sockets - let the child experience static electricity. Put flannel or wool clothing in the dryer. As soon as the clothes are dry let the child take the clothes out. The child will feel a mild electric shock. Or, have the child rub his/her tennis shoes on a carpet for one minute. Then ask the child to touch a metal doorknob. The child will feel a mild electric shock. Explain that touching any kind of electrical outlet will produce a much greater shock which could be deadly. (All electric sockets should be childproof until age five). Another example - crossing the street - take the child’s hand and walk out into the street several feet. Let the child experience the whooshing of cars as they go by and let the child see how fast they are moving. Explain that cars can knock children down and run them over. Discuss the necessity of looking in both directions before crossing the street. The next time there is a dead animal lying in the road bring it to the child’s attention and discuss how and why it was killed.
Teaching by example will help children learn the reasons why certain behaviors are preferable or necessary. Children will stay out of the street, not out of fear of getting a ‘spanking,’ but because they know that they could be hit by a car. Children will stay away from the stove, not out of fear of getting a ‘spanking,’ but because they have been shown pictures of people who have been burned by fire and can see for themselves how dangerous it is. This is real learning. Always teach by using examples whenever possible.
2. PRAISE YOUR CHILD
Always praise your child when s/he is behaving in ways that you feel are positive and appropriate. All children seek out approval and validation, so praising them will make them feel good about themselves. They will want to continue to act in these positive and appropriate ways.
3. RESPECT YOUR CHILD’S NEEDS AND WANTS, FEELINGS AND OPINIONS
Many arguments between parent and child are the parent’s fault. The parent does not take into consideration the child’s needs and wants, feelings and opinions. The parent says, "This is what we are going to do now, this is the way it is, this is the rule!" The child says, "No." The parent then discounts and invalidates the child by using his/her power to win the situation. "What did I hear you say? Did I hear you say, no. Listen, this is what we are going to do and I don’t want to hear another word out of that mouth of yours!" The child now has two choices; either give in and remain quiet or voice an opinion. Voicing an opinion will undoubtedly get the child into more trouble and will increase the probability of getting hit. Parents need to recognize that their child also has feelings and opinions that need to be taken into consideration. Parents need to listen to their child and consider what the child has to say. Then compromises and agreements can be reached.
4. TALK TO EACH OTHER
If possible, sit down and have a two-way conversation with your child. State how you feel about any inappropriate behavior and then let your child have a chance to tell you how s/he perceives the situation. Gather as much information as possible, air out feelings and talk about other more appropriate ways of behaving. Getting in the habit of sitting down and talking about problems and differences will send a clear message that you value communication and that you believe it is possible to work through conflict in a positive and constructive way.
5. DETERMINE WHAT YOUR CHILD’S BEHAVIOR MEANS
Express your concern for what your child’s behavior means. Ask, "Is something bothering you? Is something making you unhappy? Are you hungry, tired or bored?" Asking these types of questions will help your child understand what s/he is really feeling. Once there is a recognition of feelings, the child will be able to make a connection between the underlying feeling and the resulting behavior. For example, your child will recognize that the reason why he is not able to sit still and do his homework is because he is hungry. In the future, your child will more readily be able to state how s/he feels rather than act it out in unpleasant ways.
6. DISCUSS CONSEQUENCES
Make a connection between your child’s behavior and the consequences that may result from that behavior. Explain that the next time s/he acts inappropriately, a time out may be given or a privilege may be taken away. For example, if a child is about to throw an object you can say, "If you throw that there will be consequences." At this point, the child will most likely lower his hand in an attempt to avoid an unpleasant consequence.
7. PLAY THE CARD GAME
The card game helps to reinforce the idea of consequences. The child is shown four cards. A green card signifies the child’s good behavior. A yellow card signifies that the child has been warned about any inappropriate behavior. A blue card signifies that the child must take a time out. A red card signifies that the child will now receive a more serious consequence such as not getting an allowance that week, not being allowed to watch a favorite television program, or having some other privilege taken away. The child starts the day out with a green card which changes in relation to his/her behavior. If the card remains green throughout the day the child may be rewarded with a special treat.
8. GIVE A TIME OUT
As a last resort, give your child a time out. The length of the time out should correspond with the age of the child. A three year old should get a three minute time out, a four year old, a four minute time out. Ask the child to go to his/her room, to sit down and to think about the reason for the time out. After the time is over, sit down and have a two-way conversation about the child’s behavior. Then discuss alternative ways of behaving. Begin giving time outs at about age two.
9. YOU TAKE A TIME OUT
If you feel yourself reaching your boiling point, remove yourself from your child’s presence. Explain that you need to calm down and think things over. Then go to your room, lie down, turn on the television or participate in an activity which will help you relax. When you feel more composed come out of your room and resolve the conflict in a constructive way.
10. TAKE AWAY A PRIVILEGE
As a last resort, take away something the child likes. It could be a fun activity, a toy, or an allowance. For older children it could be the use of the telephone, the car, or a fun outing.
11. REMOVE A TOY
If children are fighting over a toy or other object, take it away. Then separate the children for a short period of time, pointing out that they are unable to play cooperatively together. Another option is to take away the toy and put it in the closet. At the end of the year take out all the toys that have been stored in the closet, ask the children to wrap them up in holiday gift paper and then have them donate the toys to a charity that distributes gifts to needy children.
Remember, all children are born with numerous needs that the parent is responsible for fulfilling. In many instances the child is simply acting out in order to get these needs fulfilled.
The child wants his/her parents’ time, attention, love and understanding. Since the child does not know how to come right out and ask for these needs when they are not being met, s/he will resort to everything and anything to get the needs fulfilled, even if it means hitting, screaming, calling you names, throwing objects or destroying property. So, before you discipline your child ask yourself, "What am I not giving my son or daughter to make him/her behave in such a way? Could it be possible that I have not been giving my child what s/he needs - quality time, attention, love and understanding?" If you stay open and honestly ask yourself this question, you will most probably find the reason for many of your child’s unpleasant behaviors.
LISTEN AND LEARN
Perhaps there is no better way to help you understand that hitting a child is wrong by telling you a very sad story that happened several years ago.
A father had been saving up money to buy a new car. A year passed and he finally had enough money for a down payment. Proudly, he drove his new car home and excitedly showed his wife and 2 1/2 year old daughter the car. As it happened, the father went into the garage to get some tools and the mother went inside the house to answer the phone, leaving the little girl inside the car all by herself. Finding a pen on the seat beside her, she picked it up and, thinking that it was a toy of sorts, she began poking holes in the upholstery. When the father saw what she had done, he yanked her out of the car and slapped her hand very hard several times. "Bad girl, bad girl, never do that again," he yelled. That night the little girl’s hand swelled up. By morning it had turned an unsightly color. So, the father decided to take his daughter to the doctor.
After an X-ray and several other tests the doctor came into the examining room. Pulling the father aside he said in a very sad voice, "You know you have a very large hand and your daughter’s hand is so small. I am sorry but there has been such severe damage that I will have to amputate your little girl’s hand."
Months passed. The bandages slowly came off and the little girl was beginning to learn how to live her life with just one hand. One morning, she was sitting in her playroom playing with her toys when her father walked in. Suddenly the little girl looked up and in the sweetest, most imploring voice she said, "Daddy, I promise I’ll never do that again. Please, can I have my hand back now."
Because of stories like this we must fight to end the physical and emotional harm that can result from such a practice. We must fight for human rights for all people, both big and small. Remember, there are other effective ways to interact with your son or daughter. Try them. They work. The next time your hand goes up to hit, ask yourself, "Do I really need to do this or is there something else that I can do to promote change in my child?"
Each time you refrain from hitting, you will be one step closer to stopping forever the legacy of abuse that has been passed down through the generations in your family. Each time you refrain from hitting, you will be part of a healing process that both you and your child deserve to be a part of. Each time you refrain from hitting, you will be respecting the precious life that you have been privileged to bring into the world.
DO NOT BEAT YOUR CHILDREN DOWN. RAISE THEM UP, GIVE THEM WINGS, LET THEM FLY.
This pamphlet is published
in memory of
For more information or for brochures write to:
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Blythe and David Daniel
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