'I was hit and I am fine'. We hear this statement all the time, by those that support and even encourage hitting. But is it harmless?
Jan Hunt, in The Natural Child, puts forward an interesting case for this so-called justification for hitting, by comparing it to smoking.
'I was spanked.' (fact)
'I'm fine.' (opinion)
'Sometimes spanking is necessary for solving problems with kids.' (false assumption)
'Since it is both necessary and harmless, it should be allowed and even encouraged.' (invalid conclusion)
Then she goes on to consider a similar argument that seems to justify smoking.
'The comedian George Burns smoked all his life from his teenage years on.' (fact)
'He was in reasonably good health all his life and lived to be 100.' (fact)
'Sometimes smoking is necessary for coping with life's problems.' (false assumption)
'Since smoking is harmless and sometimes necessary, it should be allowed and even encouraged.' (invalid conclusion)
Jan Hunt (The Natural Child)
Yes, some children have a strong emotional resiliency that helps them to cope with physical punishments, just like George Burns obviously had natural physical resilience to cope with years of smoking. Jan Hunt also went on to say that George Burns was one of the survivors among frequent smokers. And for many reasons there are also 'survivors' of 'spanking'. (Jan Hunt, The Natural Child).
I wonder how much happier, peaceful and emotionally intelligent these people would have been if they were bought up being respected and guided, instead of being punished?
To me, hitting is completely unneccessary. There are so many alternative ways to gently guide your children to learn. I know a lot of people will argue the fact that when it comes to children's safety it is ok. Well, I believe if you use a firm voice you can convey what you need to get across without resorting to hitting. For example, a toddler reaches for the hot stove...a simple 'STOP!' will be enough to give a quick suprise to stop them in their tracks. Then gently explaining the dangers of the heat and holding their hand lighty over top so they can feel how hot it is.
Children are learning and hitting them for being curious is NOT helping them learn, instead they will probably be feeling frightened, angry and resentful.
Fear based, authoritarian parenting may create an obedient child in the short-term, but this will be at the expense of the bond between parent and child. It is very hard to feel loving toward someone who hurts you. The superficially good behaviour will disappear when the child becomes old enough to resist.
Angry teenagers do not just magically appear. I was one of these........
'a very good little girl', always doing what I was told, and not expressing any so-called negative emotions. Expressing our emotions was not encouraged and I learnt to put on a happy face, yet felt sad and angry inside. When I was finally old enough to stand up to authority all this anger came to the surface and everyone around me wondered what happened. Where was that good, obedient girl?
What physical punishment does teach children is that hitting is okay. It is only natural that children model their parents behaviours, therefore they learn that hitting is a way to express feelings and solve problems.
I witnessed an example of this at a playground, when a child hit a sibling and the parent slapped the child saying 'you will not hit your sister'. Where is the learning in all that?
It's interesting that Adolf Hitler was often humiliated and harshly disciplined in childhood. While young Albert Einstein was consistently treated with gentleness, kindness and patience. Extreme examples, but take a moment to reflect on what each of these two men bought to the world.
To me, hitting of any sort is a harmful and illogical lesson that shows that deliberately hurting another human being is supposedly 'an act of love'. There is nothing loving about physical punishment.
If you want respect from your children, then start respecting them. It is such a beautiful feeling when a child willingly cooperates, and this will only occur when they feel loved, accepted, respected and understood. I know when my son and I are a little disconnected, as he refuses to listen to me at all. So then I realise I need to reconnect with him, through special time together, listening, sharing and just simplying loving him for him.....pure acceptance. Treating him like I would like to be treated.
I will leave you with this scenario....a scene with a husband and wife rather than parent and child. The wife spills juice over the table and it splashes on her husband's trousers. He hits her.
Will the wife be more careful next time she pours juice? Or will she be walking out the door or calling the police over an assault?
(Idea from Jan Hunt, The Natural Child)
Why is it then when an adult hits another adult it is assault, but when an adult hits a child, who is much smaller, it's okay?
Hitting is NOT okay!