It’s awfully quiet in here

Psssst  I know you listened to the Corporal Punishment podcast because it tells me how many times it was reviewed.

It’s ok, I know this is a hard topic to discuss out loud. I sometimes feel the most comfortable when I can look up information on my own and think about it first. Here’s the catch – information has to be credible AND reliable information. And here at extension we also demand that it be research based.

So how about we start there – I’m going to share some solid research based resources around the topic of corporal punishment  for you to review and ponder over -and then we can talk a bit more. Feel free to ask us not to post your question individually and we will be happy to post it as a ‘subscriber submitted question’.

Here you go!

Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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12 thoughts on “It’s awfully quiet in here

  1. It was refreshing that your site actually presented both sides of the controversy surrounding corporal punishment. Thank you.

  2. That’s the purpose of Science of Parenting. We present the research and pose questions for readers to think about. Parenting is a challenging role and many issues are complex with more than one perspective.


  3. Sometimes I think it is hard when everyone else has such strong opinions. I’m kind of shy and quiet and it’s hard to listen when others tell me what I should do when my 2 year old tantrums. After reading the links I think I have some good ideas on why she is tantrumming. She is frustrated. What do you suggest?

  4. Shawna – you’re right. It seems like many people have opinions on how a person should “parent.” While the advice may be appreciated, it’s still hard to know what to do. That’s what we try to do with the podcasts and blogs – sort through all the info and share what is known to work. Toddlers are more likely to throw tantrums when they are hungry, tired, or overexcited. Can you detect a pattern as to when your daughter is having tantrums? That will give you a good idea on how to handle the situations. Remember it is almost impossible to talk or reason with a screaming 2-year-old. Remaining calm yourself is step one. Then distracting or removing the child are good options for toddlers.

  5. Man, spanking is a tough issue. I was spanked as a child, and yes, “I turned out fine”. My parent had the rule that my siblings and I were only spanked if we either directly disobeyed a known rule or put ourselves or someone else in danger. But I remember there being times when I felt I was spanked because what I had done made my parent mad, rather than that I had necessarily misbehaved… On the flip side of that, I have known some kids who’s parents had the philosophy of “spanking is abuse” and those kids were horribly disrespectful and just plain naughty! Would I be accurate in saying a balanced philosophy is the best option?

  6. I am newly engaged, and my fiance and I have been talking about this idea of spanking our “someday” children. He was never spanked, and really was a well-behaved child; however, his younger brother (also never spanked) is not so well-behaved. I was spanked on occasion, and overall I was not an obstinate child but sometimes my curiosity got me into trouble 🙂 … Is there any research on domestic corporal punishment and temperament? I am wondering if spanking would be more/less effective in children with certain temperaments. What does the research tell us?

  7. Roxie – You’re right, spanking is a tough issue. And your statements reflect what many people experienced or think. Lots to consider when it comes to discipline.

  8. I am newly engaged, and my fiance and I have been talking about this idea of spanking our “someday” children. He was never spanked, and really was a well-behaved child; however, his younger brother (also never spanked) is not so well-behaved and sometimes downright disrespectful. I was spanked on occasion, and I have almost always been well-behaved and respectful of others. In thinking about the difference in temperament between my fiance and his younger brother, neither were spanked but both are SO different when it comes to respecting their others, especially their parents…
    So the this blog post came at a great time for my fiance and I to be better informed to make a decision on disciplining in the future, but this discussion did get me wondering: Is there any research on domestic corporal punishment and temperament? Are there certain kids that need spanking more than others? Or maybe certain temperaments that should especially not be spanked?

  9. This is a nightmare issue. My oldest has been easy, almost reasonable, if that word can be used to describe anyone under 6. My experiences with her moved me into the non-spank camp because it was clearly possible to resolve problems without it. Time-outs and talk work wonders…most of the time. To hit her would be unnecessary, and as such, exactly black-and-white abuse.

    My second has been much more difficult. He ranks among the most obstinate humans I’ve ever encountered. His reaction to our conflicts of interest (my desire to keep him safe, his desire to kill himself; my desire to protect people and things; his desire to destroy ALL THE THINGS!) results in either shutting down and ignoring the world or a raging tantrum. In the case of the raging tantrum or not listening in the face of imminent danger, physical restraint of the child is minimally warranted because it seems they lose any consideration for their well-being, drop to the floor and slam into, hit, kick, and throw things that will hurt them and anyone in a ten-foot radius. With that and the surprisingly disrespectful and hurtful things that he says and does when he’s being “bad,” which for any adult should warrant a punch in the face, a slap to the hand or cheek is about the only thing that bring us back to anything approaching a rational situation.

    I hate that it comes to that. Absolutely hate it, and can’t stand myself when it’s done. It’s probably the intense disdain for myself that allows me to refocus. So maybe it serves a dual purpose. Reason is the apex of human ability, to be held in the highest regard, and it just doesn’t seem a reasonable action. I am typically very passive and willing to talk out a problem, but we all have breaking points, and talking to and reasoning with kids only gets you so far. I can only take so much crazy!

    That said, I see improvements in his ability to handle conflict. I would be much more likely to attribute it to general, expected increases in maturity through growth than any set of specific slapping incidents. It remains for me a last resort with the temporary, but effective, ability to “cease the crazy” and open a window to reasoning (This part is critical. We absolutely can’t just hit them and have that be the end of it.), however cognitively dissonant that may be.

    Feel free to shoot this all down, too!

  10. Todd – Your comments illustrate beautifully the uniqueness of each child. What works with one child does not always work with the next child. I also think many parents will identify with your comment, “I can only take so much crazy!” We started our podcast and blogs talking about corporal punishment. And it is punishment when we spank, slap or hit a child. Punishment may take away or stop a behavior but it doesn’t replace it with a positive behavior. Punishment also allows a parent to vent his/her anger which also isn’t leading to a positive behavior. That’s why we want to focus on positive discipline tools that can help a child become responsible for his/her own behavior. Having said all that, I appreciate your honesty in sharing a very real parenting dilemma. Being able to recognize our feelings is a big step towards figuring out other options.

  11. It’s great that you and your fiance are already talking about child rearing practices. While you both have experiences and opinions about spanking, I encourage you to learn about positive discipline methods. Parents soon learn that it takes a toolbox of many discipline tools to raise children. Each child is born with a unique personality and temperament. Some children will push the limits at every opportunity. Punishment may stop a behavior for the short term, but it does not teach children positive behavior.

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