Tammy Jacobs, L.C.S.W., shares whether she believes in the controversial form of punishment, spanking.
Tammy Jacobs, L.C.S.W.:
Spanking is often a question that parents come to me about or argue amongst themselves about. One parent will say, “Yes, we have to spank our child,” the other may say, “No, I don’t believe in spanking.” It’s a very controversial subject. To spank or not to spank - there’s many articles; there’s many books written on this.
My personal belief is that spanking is never okay. Even in times, I have parents that will say, “Well he was going to run out into the road. He needs to learn that that’s unsafe and I need to protect him.” Spanking still in that moment, all that really does is instill fear. A child can still receive the same message through love and nurturing.
If you choose to spank a child over the broken rule or a unsafe issue, what are you teaching them? You’re teaching them that, “When I am breaking a rule and when I am being unsafe I get a whole lot of time, energy and relationship from my parents or caregivers and ooh, I love that; I love time and attention from my caregiver or from my parent and so all I’ve got to do, is all I got to do this,” and so how much time and relationship are you getting when you’re getting spanked? A whole lot, and then I have some parents that’ll say, “Well, they don’t want that type of attention.” Well naturally yes, but if they don’t know how to get it by following the rules and doing things well they’ll take what they can get because they want that relationship and they will do anything at any cost to get it.
If spanking is your approach for dealing with how to discipline your child when they are breaking a rule this is what I suggest you try and see how it works for you. If a normal approach is the kid is acting out, you normally would charge over there, spank him or march them to their room and spank them, what I would like you to do is go to them and say, This right here, whatever it is doing, say the behavior this is such as if they are throwing things, walk over to them, get down to their level, look into their eyes and say, “Throwing things is not okay. That’s a broken rule,” and in that moment I want you to disconnect the relationship. I want you to turn around and I want you to walk away. Don’t give them anymore time, energy, and relationship. They most likely will stop throwing things.
So this is the approach that I would like you to try if you are used to spanking your child. This is what I would like you to do instead and see if this helps them learn, “I get more from my parents when I’m doing things right.” Instead of, “Here comes my parent. I’m getting a whole lot of attention and time and relationship when things are going wrong.”
About Tammy Jacobs, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.:
Tammy Jacobs is a licensed clinical social worker and child and family therapist in Mesa, Arizona. She specializes in parenting, specifically working with difficult children and teens. Tammy's number one approach is The Nutured Heart Approach developed by Howard Glasser.