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Kids, news

Does Spanking Lead to Agression?

There’ s a new study out that links spanking with aggressive behavior in children:

Now researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet against the use of spanking: of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were more likely to be aggressive by age 5.

The study controlled for other risk factors that could lead to aggression, and researchers and other doctors are confident they’ve isolated spanking as a problem: “This adds more credence, more data and more strength to the argument against using corporal punishment,” said Dr. Jayne Singer.

Reading between the lines, what the study did not account for is the type of spanking the parents administered. The author of the Time magazine article that references the study seems to think this is spanking:

“Still, as many parents can attest, few responses bring about the immediate interruption of a full-blown tantrum like a swift whack to the bottom.”

And, here’s the picture that Time magazine ran with the article:


A mother spanks her daughter (Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images)

That’s not spanking. That’s a badly conceived dramatization of a parent whacking a kid out of frustration and not  knowing what else to do. [To illustrate just one aspect of the misunderstanding —  Biblical spanking involves the use of the rod (a wooden spoon, a paddle, etc.), not your hand.]

It gets better. Instead of spanking (which apparently instills fear rather than understanding), experts recommend repeated time-outs:

it may take repeated efforts on the parent’s part, using time-outs — a strategy that typically involves denying the child any attention, praise or interaction with parents for a specified period of time (that is, the parents ignore the child). These quiet times force children to calm down and learn to think about their emotions, rather than acting out on them blindly.

So, the best discipline method is to ignore the child, let him figure out how and why he misbehaved and let him determine a strategy to keep it from happening again.

Whoever conceived this approach has apparently never conceived children. (Okay, that’s a little harsh — time-outs do have value, used appropriately and in concert with other methods.)

The article ends with this: “As the latest study shows, investing the time early on to teach a child why his behavior is wrong may translate to a more self-aware and in-control youngster in the long run.”

Well, yeah. Of course. And if the reporter (Alice Park) or the study’s researchers had bothered to investigate a Biblical method of spanking, they would have realized that’s exactly what it involves.

Spanking is not a knee-jerk reaction in the midst of a tantrum or other behavior crisis. Done Biblically, it’s a careful, reasoned response to a child’s foolishness. It’s not a swat-and-run approach — it involves time to talk to your children, to ask them questions, to tell them why their behavior was wrong and to teach them how they can act correctly the next time.

One verse: Proverbs 13:24 — “Whoever spares the rod hates his son,but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” The words love, diligent and discipline imply a long-term investment that includes teaching and reproving and training in righteousness — much more than just a quick (and maybe angry) whack to your child’s bottom.

Most of all, though, when you discipline your kids Biblically,  it’s a chance to give them the Gospel, to tell them about Christ and how he took the ultimate punishment for their sins. He is the only one who can truly solve their behavior issues, and every chance to tell your kids about him is invaluable.

Let’s make the most of those chances, not by swattting and running, not by ignoring our kids, but by loving them and disciplining them diligently.



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