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Should parents smack their children?

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Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:31 am
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Eimear says...



Should they? Shouldn't they?

My personal views are that if you correct a child with violence (because it is) then they will see that as a resolution to future conflict in their life.

What does everyone else think on the matter?
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:14 pm
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Rei says...



I think a little wack on the hand if they are about to do something that would lead to them hurting themselves more than the wack is the only thing that will get through to some kids. Other than that, don't hit kids.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:24 pm
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idle muse says...



Physical abuse as a punishment is never morally acceptable. For example, if you punish a child for hitting someone by hitting them, what kind of impression does that give. But if, as Rei has said, they are about to cross the street with a lorry heading towards them or are reaching for a burning fire, then a quick smack is acceptable.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:42 pm
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Incandescence says...



I was spanked as a child, and many of the people I know were, too (In fact, all of the ones where this question has been raised were spanked).

I don't resolve situations with violence. Nor do they. For the record, spanking has been the predominant form of disciplinary action for the past two centuries in the Western countries--where are all of the violent sociopaths this theory of "violence breeds violence"?????

Fact is, most people were spanked as children, and yet our country (and many others) isn't brimming with violence. I don't know where this, "If you respond with violence, you will teach violence" idea came from, but it doesn't hold any weight outside of academic musings. Good parenting will dictate that violence is a negative response which will not gain the child anything--spanking a child is a negative response, and thus the child perceives it negatively and associates with their actions and it reinforces that those actions were "bad."

Children, especially, but indeed all of mankind, have a fundamental struggle for Recognition: we all want to be recognized as valuable and worth our status as humans. Spanking, which certainly recognizes the child, doesn't accomplish this in the best way--children would much rather be recognized by being bought video games, or going to McDonald's, or whatever it is children want. Is it true that spanking SOME children creates disturbed individuals? Sure, it's a factor, but it's not the only factor: poor parenting (which might, who knows, rely solely on physical violence) is the much larger contributor to the situation. Isn't it also true that many parents would rather believe that video games and the television have made children violent today (I don't even buy this; children have always been violent--it's just now, with the advent of modern recording technology, that it comes to light) rather than their own poor parenting skills? Sure enough, many do. But as Oscar Wilde said, "All influence is immoral."

So get over it. Physical violence does not breed physical violence. It's not a self-catalyzing reaction, and the use of physical force can teach a far greater lesson to younger children who don't understand the social code well enough to "have a talk" about it. Instead, they would only understand that physical force as being tethered to their actions. They might not understand it then, but they won't do it again, and when they're a little bit older, they'll understand.

So maybe if parents, and society at large, were to fail teaching "good" behavior as distinguished from "bad" behavior, then sure, maybe responding with violence would cause violence.

Maybe. But scientists are increasingly finding more and more evidence that violence is far more a genetic predisposition than a societal one (duh), which seriously erodes at the credibility of the argument you've given against "smacking" children--which is, I'm going to point out, extremely different from spanking. Smacking has the connotation of being impulsive, to the face, with great force. Spanking is not (usually) impulsive, and certainly not to the head or face, and the amount of force is variable.

If you're asking, "Should parents smack their children?" and meaning the word "smack," I'm not sure I'd agree with that--it would imply a response which was not fitting of the situation and not thought out. I don't see the need for senseless violence, as it doesn't teach anything, but I think you're going to find a vast consensus here on "smacking," because you've made it sound more like child abuse than discipline.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 3:14 pm
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Rei says...



There are many more reasons not to hit your kids has a punishment than because it will make them violent. Of all the really happy, respectful, successful people I know, few if any of them were hit as children. Besides, reinforcing positive behaviour is in my experience (as well as the experiece of my professors and all the teachers I've worked with in recent years) far more effective than just punishing unwanted behaviour.

So you know where I'm coming from, let's get the definitions straight

positive reinforcement: a positive result of a behaviour designed to increase that behaviour. e.g. being allowed to play games after getting all your chores done, getting good grades as a result of studying

negative reinforcement: a negative result for failure to do/display desired behaviour, designed to increase the desired behaviour e.g. not playing by the rules and therefore not being allowed to play

punishment: negative result designed to decrease unwanted behaviour

When you're dealing with disciplin, focus on what you want to happen rather than what the child is doing wrong.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 4:03 pm
Incandescence says...



Rei,


You have to focus on all of it. You can't ignore bad behavior and reward only good behavior. You have to do all of it.

I am not for either extreme of solely punishing or solely rewarding. Children need both sorts of experiences to learn from, in whatever form they assume.

That the happy, successful, respectable people you know weren't hit as children doesn't mean that they're happy, successful, respectable because of that. Nor does it mean that the unhappy, unsuccessful, unrespectable people are such because they were hit. It means that, as we've both demonstrated now, people can be happy, successful and respectable regardless of whether spanking was used as punishment. I consider all of my friends successful and respectable, at the very least, and most seem happy (although, one can never know the happiness of another human being, so I won't say anything about that, and I'm not sure you should either--at the very least, they seem happy, and function properly, but I don't know if they are).

It's good that the system you're a part of promotes values you believe in and support. It makes things seem worthwhile; on the other hand, many Asian countries rely solely on negative reinforcement, and their children turn out fine and productive, too.

The point is: reinforcement, positive, negative or neutral, is only as effective as the person behind it. Negative reinforcement can be just as effective, or more so, than positive reinforcement. In fact, I'm sort of leery of solely focusing on positive reinforcement. The world has consequences, causality--you learn from your mistakes, but sometimes it's hard to know you've made a mistake. It's important not to overemphasize the mistake, obviously, but it's more important that it be pointed out.


Just my $.2,
Brad
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 4:45 pm
Blink says...



I personally agree with Rei.

I am all for psychological punishment. By hurting a child I see it as a weak attempt to correct a child--they will be less likely to stand their ground against their parents. Would you rather a listen listen to you through fear or trust?

I... can't think of much more to say--I'm not in my debating mood today :)

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Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:08 pm
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Rei says...



I said nothing about not teaching them consequences, Not being allowed to play a game if you do not play by the rules is a consequence. Not being allowed to go out with friends if you didn't finish your homework is a consequence. However, the focus is on what should have been done instead of what they did wrong. Basically, instead of repremending the child for being lazy, help them understand what behaviours would have prevented the situation they were in. You're doing the exact same thing, just with different language.

Please review my definitions, Brad. Your example of Asian countries is still an example of exactly what I was talking about. I said that reinforcement, both positive and negative, are designed to increase postive behaviours, and are more effective than punishment, which is designed to decrease negative behaviour.

In simpler terms:

postivite reinforcement: You did this good thing. So you'll do it again, this good thing will happen

negative reinforcement: You didn't do this good thing. So you'll do it next time, you either do not get this good thing or this bad thing will happen

punishment: You did something bad. To keep you from doing it again, something bad is going to happen to you.

See the difference? Negative reinforcement, which is part of what I was talking about before, does teach consequences. However, its aim is to teach the right behaviour rather than preventing the wrong behaviour.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:08 pm
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Cade says...



By all means, break out the riding crops and smack away. When I have kids, they're not leaving the house each morning without a few whacks across the face.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:10 pm
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Rei says...



Cade wrote:By all means, break out the riding crops and smack away. When I have kids, they're not leaving the house each morning without a few whacks across the face.


I pray you are joking. If you aren't, I only wish it were possible to forcibly sterilize you.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:31 pm
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Cade says...



I never joke. And i plan to make lots of babies so I can scar them and turn them all into mass murderers.

In all honestly, I agree with Brad. This topic has come up in debate before and it will probably come up again. Of course, it's up to the parents, but you've got to know what you're getting yourself into with any method, and you've got to be prepared to use it effectively. Personally, I think spanking is okay, if used in the right situations. When I was little, I was rarely spanked, but if I earned it, I earned it. I understand what you're saying, Rei, about negative reinforcement like, "You can't watch TV if you haven't done your chores," but I don't think that works in all cases, particularly if the child in question is either 1) too young to understand the correlation, 2) in danger, or 3) engaging in violent behavior herself:

1) Not all kids would understand that the withholding of television or other privilege is a direct result of a bad action. Younger kids, say under age three, aren't really at a level where they understand why the two are connected. First you need to reinforce the rules first, and they grow into that understanding later. You risk raising a kid who sees a very fuzzy line between 'right' and 'wrong', and connects the two very much with his personal interests.

2) Especially in cases where the child is in danger, the idea of a kid not understanding the correlation is much worse. A two-year-old isn't likely to understand, "If I run out into the street, I am in danger of getting hit by a truck." That sort of understanding comes later. Punishing a child who runs into the street with a spank or a sharp word makes a much sharper impression.

3) It's difficult to say, "Because you hit your brother, you don't get a candy bar." Many of the times my brother and I remember getting spanked were times we had been violent to each other. The one time I had to spank a kid I was babysitting, it was because he was beating up his two-year-old brother and kicking me. Threatening him with, "I'll tell your mother, and I won't let you watch a movie," did not work. That sort of behavior requires a much more direct and physically forceful punishment...in this sense, spanking could prevent violence.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:44 pm
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deleted6 says...



idle muse wrote:Physical abuse as a punishment is never morally acceptable. For example, if you punish a child for hitting someone by hitting them, what kind of impression does that give. But if, as Rei has said, they are about to cross the street with a lorry heading towards them or are reaching for a burning fire, then a quick smack is acceptable.


I was smacked, it was effective. The way my Dad did it was count to ten and if I hadn't done what he was expecting I'd get it. Believe me as a person who got it, I turned out fine. Heck I'm a member of Amnesty so I understand human rights but children don't always understand right or wrong. If they don't listen to ya then a little smack works wonders. They associate this bad decision with pain. It becomes inbuilt so they realize it's bad. Just my two cent.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:04 pm
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Rei says...



There is always an alternative to causing a child phsyical pain. You just need to figure out what matters to the child and you need to do it properly. That child must not have had any respect for you to begin with. You don't need to beat up a child for fighting. You remove them from the situation first, physcially if necessary, but not by causing pain. Time out is effective if done properly. Then you teach them what to do instead of hitting. It does work with two- and three-year-olds. My school was having a problem with fighting.

The school director brought the classes together and had a discussion about what we can do with our hands and what to do instead when you feel like hitting someone or someone hits you. And then told them that if they keep hitting, they will be out. That one discussion didn't get rid of the problem, but recess that day had a lot less fighting, just from that one discussion.

Who says they need to understand the whys? Even babies understand cause and effect. Why else would they keep crying when they are hungry or need to be changed? They know that if they cry mommy will feed or change them. Bring it to their level so they understand instead of trying to bring them to your level.

My students know that if they fight they will not be allowed to play at recess (which includes children who are as young as 2.5.). With younger children, what are they going to be doing do deserve anyway unless the parent has made some seriously stupid mistakes.

And I did say that if a child is in danger, giving them a tiny swat can be okay. In other situations, you have to fine the consequence that matters to the child. What I said before is just an example.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:52 pm
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khfan890 says...



Totally, dude. lol what's it ever hurt somebody? There's a difference between smacking and abusing.

As to the point about if the kid hits somebody, will hitting them back teach them anything? Yeah, it'll teach them what it felt like, and they won't do it again if they know they're gonna get their butts busted.

Somebody I know said when he was little, his brother used to bite people. So to break him of it, his mom bit him as hard as she could every time he bit somebody. He stopped biting. People are just big babies with their kids today.
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Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:57 pm
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OverEasy says...



I was spanked on very rare occasions when I was younger, there were two rules that if I broke, I got a spanking. The spankings didn't start until I was old enough to understand those rules and follow them.

Rule # 1. Don't put yourself in danger (running into the street without looking both ways or something like that)

Rule # 2. Don't lie.

For any physical violence that I gave, I received a thump on which ever part did the violence. If I hit my brother, I got a thump on the hand. If I bit someone, thump on the mouth.

For any other thing that I did wrong there was the lovely time out chair. However I do believe that sometimes children need that little wake up call. I was never spanked hard enough to leave a mark, however is did a great job of getting my attention and letting me know that I did a bad thing.

I think that using blunt objects to hit a child, even for a spanking (I know some mothers that use wooden spoons etc) is very wrong. I don't think it actually takes actual pain to get a childs attention, just a little whack to let them know that they did something wrong.
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