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Will spanking make a child violent?

25 October 2010


I have never spanked my 3-year-old daughter because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?

You have asked an important question that reflects a common misunderstanding about child management.
First, let me emphasise that it is possible - even easy - to create a violent and aggressive child who has observed this behaviour at home. If he is routinely beaten by hostile, volatile parents or if he witnesses physical violence between angry adults or if he feels unloved and unappreciated within his family, that child will not fail to notice how the game is played. Thus, corporal punishment that is not administered according to very carefully thought-out guidelines is a risky thing.Being a parent carries no right to slap and intimidate a child because you had a bad day or are in a lousy mood. It is this kind of unjust discipline that causes some well-meaning authorities to reject corporal punishment as a method of discipline.Just because a technique is used wrongly, however, is no reason to reject it altogether. Many children desperately need this resolution to their disobedience. In those situations when the child, aged two to 10, fully understands what he is being asked to do but refuses to yield to adult leadership, an appropriate spanking is the shortest and most effective route to an attitude adjustment.When he lowers his head, clenches his fists and makes it clear he is going for broke, justice must speak swiftly and eloquently. Not only does this response not create aggression in children, it helps them control their impulses and live in harmony with various forms of benevolent authority throughout life.

Many people disagree, of course. I can only tell you that there is not a single well-designed scientific study that confirms the hypothesis that spanking by a loving parent breeds violence in children.



This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia (www.family.org.my) and the Questions and Answers are extracted from “Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide” by Dr James Dobson with permission.

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