Hitting kids?

Recently I read this post: http://prenticefamily.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/not-spanking-jail-time-for-child/.

 And it has been on my mind ever since that many parents simply lack alternative tools and indeed sometimes lack awareness of the reasons violence is not only unnecessary, but directly contrary to what the parent is actually trying to achieve. Hence this post to be followed with alternatives to violence.

 Firstly though my qualifications to speak to this. I was a severely abused child until being made a State Ward for my own protection at twelve. From twelve to eighteen I saw so many different types of violence I was able to clearly determine for myself that violence of any sort only begets violence. And a life of violence, anger, bitterness and rage were not what I wanted.

 Secondly I have studied psychiatry, psychology, and a trillion other ‘ologies’ for over twenty-twenty-seven years now and practiced in psychiatry for twenty-four years. Every single experience I shared with my clients proved yet again (if it required anymore proving) that any sort of violence creates only itself.

 And I have a fourteen year old lad that I’ve been single parenting since he was two. So…

 Why do we hit our kids? Well…seen as you asked 🙂 ;

 A long time ago man discovered if he hit another man over the head with a club that man was more likely to do what he wanted. It was much quicker than using rationale argument or negotiation. He just had to make sure the other bloke wasn’t bigger.

 Kids were automatic losers here. Adults are always bigger!

 So many times I hear parents say “But it works!” Well of course it does!

 Anyone bigger can scare the living crap out of a child and make them comply. But is that why you are striking your child?

 Do you want to teach them that bullying works, that physical violence is the way to get what you want, that causing pain to another is justified, that the end justifies the means?

 Most parents do not agree with these messages when I ask them yet these are the very messages they deliver anytime they hit their child.

 Of course one cannot ignore the impact of religion on our justification of using violence on our children.

 ‘Spare the rod spoil the child’, (a piece of advice still up on the Roman Catholic Church website now in 2010) is so integral to our views of raising children whether we are religious or not. It is one of those underlying cultural attitudes that deeply influence us whether we are aware of it or not.

 At the end of the day I believe we adults resort to inflicting violence on our children (spanking seems to me to be one of those terms we use to minimize what we are actually doing) to either vent our own frustration or because we are unaware of more effective teaching tools.

 Please note I am not judging here. There are many times, particularly of late when my urge has been to ‘knock some sense’ into my son. But as an adult it is my job to acknowledge the frustration as mine alone and that my job is to teach so that the lessons learnt are of benefit to my son and to the society he lives in. Violence will not achieve this desired result.

 As an adult I must overcome my own desire for instant fixes, my own flaring knee-jerk responses to challenging behaviour, and seek to teach in a way that encourages my son to do the same.

 The next post under parenting will be an examination of effective techniques that can achieve what we parents want from our children without adding to the problem of violent coercion all across our world, from hitting our kids to hitting other countries we don’t like.

 Your opinions are welcome!

4 thoughts on “Hitting kids?

  1. You are right. Violence only breeds violence, and tomorrows adults are today’s children. What do parents impart on a child by physical/verbal abuses? They only grow up thinking that such means are normal in eliciting an end. Its not a wonder to see angry, violent adults throughout history. Abuse may seem effective in a short term, but highly detrimental in the long term. Don’t take out your anger or frustration on a ‘small’ person. I believe that discipline is necessary, but not at the cost of “loss of innocence’ of a child. I’m sure almost all creeds do not condone such acts, but maybe as a LAST resort, if it comes to that. Islam, preaches patience and model behavior. The holy prophet Muhammed (PBUH) never raised a hand against anyone in his life, and was vehemently outspoken against any form of verbal abuse to ANYONE. However, muslim parents are instructed to ‘discipline’ their children in regards to performing salaat (prayer/ worship). Hadeeth no.0495 in book 2 of Sunan Abu Dawud states that children may be disciplined in regards to salaat (children should perform salaat at the age of 7, and must be disciplined to do so at the age of 10) Long gap from seven to ten eh? Sadly, most “muslim” parents are (intentionally) ignorant of this tradition, and beat the child at the first opportunity. I observe this to be more of out local customs rather than any particular creed of a parent. So, it is up to parents (if they really wish it) to understand the importance of imparting kindness, patience, and wisdom through non abusive methods. There is a saying in Tamil which translates: “A cat which knows the pain of fire, will not go near the stove.” i.e., let children learn to deal with the consequences of their actions early on, and teach them to see their errors and make them understand how important it is to learn from such mistakes. well, this is just my opinion… Hope anyone got it? 😉

    • thanks for dropping in and your opinion is always welcome! Love the stuff on Islam. Isn’t it interesting that our prophets, as in Muhammed and Jesus both were committed to non-violence, both role modeled this behaviour yet we have changed their teachings to justify our inability to live up to this standard.

      Role modeling is everything and I agree children need discipline. Personally I use the word ‘boundries’ as at least here in Australia, discipline is used in conjuction with the word punishment and thus carries the potential for violence.

  2. I’m also very very firmly in the Never Smack team. My friends though, tell me that’s because my eldest is an accepting, biddable child, and had I been blessed with a spirited/feisty/ornery one I’d be less sanctimonious. My younger son though is a hitter, which has upset me. He doesn’t see the behaviour at home.. he has a very placid nanny… so where did it come from? When he gets angry, he hits. His brother is his main target… but he’s also slogged away at me, his Dad and the nanny. We’ve always been very careful to repeat the “hitting is wrong,” message, and by bribery we’ve stopped his brother hitting back. And then, just today, for the first time, he lost his temper and took swipes at me that didn’t land. Wouldn’t it be great if it’s the beginning of the end of the hitting phase…

    • thanks for comming by and for your comments. Indeed you show the very problem…it is not easy to resist coercion through violence, indeed it is, as shown by your child, a very instinctual response.

      I wish you luck with your lads. My son when little was a hitter too. Its caused by lack of impulse control in kids. Together we learnt he had/has one of those tempers that goes kablooie and we have worked on him both taking control of this and finding healthier ways to express his frustration or get his needs met.

      Regarding other parents…how I related to your experiences! And really, though I tend to keep this one to myself, I find the more guilty parents feel about their own lack of impulse control towards their childrens behaviour the more they need to condemn those of us who refuse to give into such impulses!

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