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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Listening 2 Children: Sharon Wikoff - To Spank...or Not?

Welcome to 2010! Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? I invite you to consider a different way of thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. How would you like to “BE” as a parent in 2010? As a grandparent? As a teacher? Would you like to be more loving, more caring, more gentle? This is an excellent time for change! One area to consider is how you want to discipline your child.

Pam Leo, author of the book, Connection Parenting, has written an excellent article on the subject of Spanking. Below are excerpts from that article, printed with permission. The entire article can be read at

Spanking Undermines Discipline
- Loving Alternatives - by Pam Leo

“It’s not nice to hit people; children are people.” - Pam Leo

Parents hitting their children has been accepted as a form of discipline in our society for so long that some parents can’t imagine that it is possible to discipline children without hitting them. We have learned that not only is it possible to discipline children without hitting them, but it is impossible to discipline children by hitting them. Making children feel worse does not make them behave better.

Most parents intend to teach their children to be courteous, respectful, responsible, kind and loving. Children learn most from imitating what they see us do. Since hitting is not courteous, respectful, responsible, kind or loving, how can we possibly expect to teach our children those things by hitting them?

Hitting is punishment, not discipline. Punishing children doesn’t teach them why their behavior was unacceptable or what they should do instead. Punishment is meant to deter children from repeating the behavior by being painful or unpleasant enough to cause the child to want to avoid being punished again. In theory, this method may sound effective, but in reality, being punished causes children to think more about the wrong that was done to them than the wrong they did.

Hitting children not only hurts their bodies, it hurts their hearts and minds. Instead of giving them the message that what they did was bad, being hit causes children to believe that they are bad. Research shows that children who are hit have lower self-esteem than children who are not hit. There is even some evidence from a British study that children who are hit may be less able to learn because physical punishments reduce children’s IQ.

While not all people who were hit as children grow up to be hitters, all adults who hit grew up either being hit or witnessing hitting. When an adult hits another adult we call it assault. When a husband or wife hits the other we call it battering. When a big kid hits a little kid we call it bullying. When a parent hits a child we call it spanking. No matter what name we give it - a swat, slap, tap or spank, it is hitting. When the adults in a family hit each other we call it domestic violence. Why then, when the adults hit the children in the family, do we call it discipline? Nowhere else in our society is hitting considered acceptable. Isn’t all hitting violence?

Most parents love their children and want to be good parents who raise good kids. Many parents feel badly about resorting to hitting their children and are anxious or at least open to learning methods of effective, loving discipline. To those parents I offer some alternatives.

It Wouldn’t Hurt To Try:
• When a child is about to do something dangerous like going into the road or climbing on a bookcase, gather them into your arms, tell them “Danger!” and explain to them why their behavior frightens you. The word danger is more effective than just saying no.

• Children need lots of attention. When we give enough positive attention, children don’t become so starved for attention that they resort to any behavior that will get our attention.
Ending all forms of violence against children will be the beginning of the end of domestic violence. However we treat the child, the child will treat the world.

Sharon Ann Wikoff is a credentialed teacher and an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner. Parenting teleclasses begin in January and can be viewed at:

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