Putting it All Together
After reading the last two posts, you might wonder if the pro-spanking and anti-spanking researchers are on different planets, because their research is so starkly different. There are studies saying spanking is the most effective way of reducing antisocial behavior, and studies saying that spanking causes antisocial behavior. There are studies saying that spanking two times a month is frequent, and studies saying that five times a day is moderate. There were studies saying that spanking was related to lower drug use, and studies saying that it caused rebellion, depression, and drug use. The research was split very nearly 50/50.
Who wouldn't be confused?
But I do think there are some trends that we can recognize. First, nearly all of the studies that accounted for spanking frequency showed that too much spanking can be bad. In other words, quality is much better than quantity. Second, the state of mind of the parent is also important. Don't spank in anger. Don't spank impulsively. Don't spank if you don't believe in it as part of your family's disciplinary strategy. And certainly don't spank if you have a history of abuse or other psychological issues. The studies that accounted for these behaviors nearly all showed that a parent who is in control of themselves and spanks purposefully gets better results than a parent who is apt to lose control.
And, apparently, white parents need to be more careful about this than black parents. Don't ask me why, but at least three studies showed that spanking was beneficial for black children but not as effective for white children. None of the research looked at Asian children. Naturally. ;-)
Also, much of the pro-spanking research indicates that the "sweet spot" for spanking is between 2 and 6 years old. In both younger and older children, you start to see negative effects. There were studies in the anti-spanking research that showed negative outcomes for the 2-6 age range. However, there were only three studies that exclusively looked within that age range, and they were all published this year. Most of the other studies looked at children under two or at elementary school children.
In fact, nearly all the research on elementary or older children showed some negative results, and nearly all the research on infants showed negative results. So if it were me, I would suggest not spanking a child younger than 1 or older than about 8. For young toddlers and for older elementary school students, use caution. Certainly don't do it frequently, and even then it should be a mild version of a spanking.
So, confession time - what do we do in our house? We really only "spank" for one offense right now, and that is touching the computers. She has already destroyed one laptop by kicking it in a fit of anger, and she has also poured water on a running computer which was very lucky to only lose a video card. But the end result is that she has lost computer privileges. She can look, but she can't touch. Here is what we do if she disobeys:
The first time she touches my keyboard I remove her hand and say firmly, "Do not touch Mama's computer. Do you understand?"
The second time she touches my keyboard within the same 10 or 15 minutes, I again remove her hand and say firmly, "Do not touch Mama's computer. If you touch it again I will give you a spanking. Do you understand?"
The third time she touches the keyboard (again, in a reasonable time frame so that she should remember what I said), she gets a mild slap on the wrists and a repeat of the previous warning: "Don't touch. If you do this again, you get another spanking. Do you understand?"
Etc. About once every other day or so I will "practice" on myself just to make sure I'm not hitting too hard.
Pearl is only 15 months old. I don't anticipate seriously expanding our "spankable offenses" until she is much older. I also plan to give her fewer warnings once she is old enough that I know she understands the house rules. At this age I think it is only fair for me to give her ample warning and attempt to solve the problem without spanking whenever possible.
What conclusions have you drawn from the research? How did or do you handle spanking in your house?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Putting it All Together