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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sparing the rod doesn't mean spoiling your child

When I was about 9 years old, my parents went to the US to "land" since my dad's immigrant application had been approved. They stayed for 1 month but decided to stay in the Philippines. While I was growing up, I kept asking them why they had to give up the "American Dream".
My mom believed that America was not a conducive place to bring up children. For one, there were a lot of bad influences. Second, child abuse laws were unreasonable and thus, as parents they could not properly discipline us. My parents believed in spanking using their hands or belts. I distinctly remember my maternal grandmother chasing after my siblings and with a broom when we were naughty. I also remember being punished by kneeling on monggo seeds (somewhat like quinoa but hard) in a corner.

According to a recent study I got from one of my egroups, spanking children leads to aggressive behavior when they are older.

The results reinforce earlier studies which have found that children who are spanked have lower IQ scores and that frequent spanking has been linked to anxiety and behavior problems and higher risk of violent or criminal behavior, depression and excessive alcohol use.

Researchers surveyed 2,500 mothers across the United States.

Nearly half said they had not spanked their three-year-old in the past month, while 27.9 percent said reported one or two spankings and 26.5 reported spanking more than twice.

Two years later, the mothers who had spanked their children more frequently reported higher levels of aggression such as arguing, screaming, fighting, destroying things, cruelty or bullying in their five-year-olds.

The results held true even when researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors such as the presence of aggression within the family and parental stress, depression and drug or alcohol use.

"There are ways to discipline children effectively that do not involve hitting them and that can actually lower their risk for being more aggressive," said lead author Catherine Taylor of the Tulane University School of Public Health.

"So the good news is, parents don't have to rely on spanking to get the results that they want," Taylor said in a press release.

"If they avoid spanking but instead use effective, non-physical types of discipline, their child has a better chance of being healthier, and behaving better later."

Even before this study came out, professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatricians discourages corporal punishment. However, it was reported that as may as 90% of parents spank their children.

Here in the Philippines, spanking is considered normal in the course of disciplining your child. However, more young parents are eschewing spanking for time-outs. When Naima was a newborn, Stan and I talked about how to discipline her and agreed that spanking wouldn't be an acceptable punishment for either of us.

Naima is now a busy toddler at 2 years and 4 months. I don't know if she is exceptionally well-behaved or if Stan and I just have a lot of patience but she has never been spanked at all. When Naima misbehaves, I usually tell her "If you don't behave I will call your dad" and Stan does the same thing vice-versa. If that doesn't work, we tell her that we will withhold her favorite activity if she doesn't behave. And when she throws a tantrum, we pick her up carry her and ask her do you want mom or dad to cry also? She normally doesn't so she stops crying and listens. Another approach we find effective is to distract her with a toy, a song, flying objects (she loves airplanes, balloons and helicopters).

At this time I am happy (and lucky) that Naima understands and already has a sense of what is right or wrong. This makes discipling her a lot easier without the spanking or a lot of tears. I'm not sure how this will work if Naima becomes a tween or a teenager or if we have a boy for our second child. I still need to check out those parenting books, after all.


Unknown said...

Jen, I was just reading through Dr. Sears' Discipline Book last night after tucking (nursing, actually) my month-old baby Diwa to sleep.

Check out their take on spanking.


9... (there wasn’t any #9, Dr. Sears)

Jenny said...

thanks joanne! i don't have that book by dr. sears and given that he is one of the forerunners of attachment parenting, i would be surprised if he thought otherwise. anyway, i'm fairly certain that for our generation, most if not all of us were spanked as children. i've known some who say that even if they were spanked at kids, they turned out to be good adults so why would their kids turn out otherwise?

Unknown said...

My grandfather (Papa's dad) was a soldier during the World War II and fought along side with the American soldiers the Japanese imperial militia. For most of the years during the war, he was away from his young wife and their eldest son. When he got back to his family at the end of the war, he was aghast at how his son is so "mahinhin at ma-lamya", so timid, soft-spoken, so unmanly. Lolo used to hit my 5-year-old uncle with the belt because of trivial things and my Lola could just cry in powerlessness. When the rest of their children arrived, Lolo still didnt spare the belt either.

My dad---the 3rd child of my Lolo---however, has never spanked his five children with sticks, slippers and especially not belts. Never in our lives have my brothers and sisters and I felt the lash of a belt on our tushies. No matter how naughty or nasty we are... there was just no belt that came flying towards us.

When we were kids, Lolo comes to visit us in Davao. At times we get too cumberson for his sensibilities and he would look for his belt, hold it but never hit us. Ang laking pagpipigil nya siguro sa aming lima. Galit lang ng Papa ko sa kanya pag pinalo nya kami ng sinturon.

When I asked my father why he did not use the belt as a disciplining tool, he just said "violence begets violence and violence does not belong in our family." Among the sons and daughters of my Lolo, only Papa and my Switzerland-based Uncle William did not resort to belt-spanking as a means to teach their children proper behavior.

And as a daughter of a father who broke that chain of violence, I am forever grateful to have been reared by parents like him.

Unknown said...

how to disciplined the kids is very subjective topic. some prefer to be stern and hit the kids, some just followed whatever the kids do.

Like us, we do not spank our kid, its more like your ways of " distract her with a toy" and if he still misbehave we will give him a small pitch on his tight and he automatically understand that he is doing wrong things.

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