Spanking linked to aggression

April 30th is International SpankOut Day. It was started in 1998 to raise awareness of the problems with spanking children and to provide alternatives.

Various organizations, including The American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend parents use methods other than spanking for managing undesired behavior.  However many parents still use spanking as a response to misbehavior.

A new study published in the May 2010 issue of the journal Pediatrics reports "Kids who were spanked more than twice a month as 3-year-olds were much more likely to become aggressive 5-year-olds than kids who weren't disciplined that way." 

Psychoanalyst and author Alice Miller, who has dedicated her life to studying child abuse and mistreatment, has this to say:

Spanking is always an abuse of power. It is humiliating and it creates fear. A state of fear can only teach children to be distrustful and hide their true feelings. They learn from their parents that violence is the right way of resolving conflicts and that they are bad or unworthy and thus deserve correction. These children will soon forget why they were spanked. They will submit very quickly, but later in life, they will do the same to weaker persons. By spanking we teach violence. The child's body has learned the lesson of violence from their parents over a long period and we cannot expect it to suddenly forget these lessons at the behest of religious values, which the body doesn't understand anyway. Instead, it retains the memory of being spanked.

While it is very important for parents to set limits with their children, it should be done in a way that helps children learn from their mistakes without hitting or spanking. Parents who want to learn effective ways to set limits with their kids and respond to misbehavior without resorting spanking can take the online Priceless Parenting course for ages 5 and under.

Todders who don't listen

A mom warned her two-year-old son, Sam, repeatedly not to stand on the chairs. However, he decided to it anyway. This time the chair tipped, Sam fell off and broke into tears. His mom scolded him saying “How many times have I told you not to stand on that chair? This is why you need to listen to me!” Sam cried a little harder feeling even worse.

It’s hard not to say a version of “I told you so!” in situations like this. How would Sam feel if instead his mom gave him a hug and said “How sad you fell off the chair”? When we express empathy instead of anger, we build loving relationships with our children while letting them learn from the consequences.

Responding to temper tantrums

Check out this video for ideas on responding to those frustrating temper tantrums.


My 14-year-old son is participating in a Coming-Of-Age program through our church. This program helps teens with the transition between childhood and youth. Kids learn what it means to move out of childhood, how freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand and how to use their expanding freedom in good and healthy ways.

The big event for this program is Vision Quest weekend. Friday night the teens and their adult mentors participate in a sweat lodge ceremony and Saturday the teens spend 6 hours in the woods by themselves – no cellphones, music or books – just time to reflect, write in their journals and paint their youth mask.

Parents participate in a departure ceremony, a welcome back potluck and ceremony, plus write a letter to their teen describing what they see as their child’s unique strengths and gifts. The teens are given this letter to read while they are in the woods. My favorite part was writing the letter – something I probably wouldn't have done if it weren’t part of this program.

While this program is primarily aimed at teens, it certainly is helpful to parents in recognizing and honoring the changes in their children. Parents expressed nostalgia for the childhood that is past and hope for their teen’s future. Letting go and allowing our children to grow up isn’t easy but going through it with other parents helps.

Helping Children Shine

When we recognize and appreciate our children's unique talents, we can support them in following their own dreams and passions. 

“I can’t sleep.”

When our kids wake us up saying “I can’t sleep.” it is certainly not music to our ears! One mom explained to her 7-year-old daughter, Amber, that the only valid reason for waking her up in the night was if it was a medical emergency.

Sure enough, when Amber woke her mom up in the middle of the night she said it was for a medical emergency. However, there was no medical emergency so as a consequence she took Amber downstairs for a time out. This upset Amber and made the whole process of getting back to sleep even longer.

In situations like these, it’s helpful to see our child as having a problem and lacking the skills to solve the problem. It’s our job to teach those skills.

With that mindset, what else could she do when Amber woke her up?
  • Instruct Amber to go stop at the bathroom. Kids sometimes wake up because they need to use the bathroom but aren’t fully awake enough to realize that this is the problem.
  • After that, walk Amber back to her room and tuck her into bed.
  • If Amber was worried about falling back asleep, Mom might choose to lie down beside her for a little while.
By looking at Amber’s behavior as a problem she needs help solving, there are many more positive steps available to help Amber find a solution.

Choking game is no game

There are some games that teens should never play and one of those is the Choking Game. This is no game; it involves suffocating on purpose with the goal of feeling a head rush. Unfortunately, kids die or are seriously injured every year doing this.

Families who have been affected by this game have started an organization called G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play) to educate others. Their goal is to help other families avoid suffering a tragedy caused by the Choking Game. According to their site, these are the kids who are playing the choking game:

“Mostly boys and girls between 9-16 years old, nationwide and around the world. These adolescents are generally high-achieving in academics, activities and sports, and don’t want to risk getting caught with drugs or alcohol. The practice is taught through word of mouth and through the internet.”

They’ve put together a very powerful video about the Choking Game. By knowing the facts you will be in a better position to discuss this serious issue with your children.

Stop rolling your eyes at me!

It makes a lot of parents' blood boil when their children roll their eyes at them. This can lead to yelling "Stop rolling your eyes at me!" Does this command work? Not usually - instead a small smirk may accompany the eye rolling.

When we give our children orders like this, we set ourselves up for a fight because they ultimately control their eyes, not us! It's far better to tell them what we will do:
  • "I'll be happy to talk to you just as soon as you are looking at be with respect."
  • "When you roll your eyes at me, it really saps my energy. I'm going to lay down and read for awhile to regain my energy.  I'll work on making dinner after I'm feeling better."
Tell them what you are going to do and then do it!

The Challenges of Motivating Children

How can we motivate our children to work harder in school, in a sport or in practicing an instrument? Will the promise of a reward for practicing the piano help our child practice more? Or will the threat of punishment be more effective? When we try to motivate our children to work harder, we can often end up feeling frustrated by the results.

Understanding Internal Motivation

Ideas about motivation are changing as new research teases out some of the key elements. According to Daniel Pink’s latest book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, trying to motivate children using external rewards and punishment is a mistake. The secret for motivating children to high performance lies in allowing their own internal drives direct their behavior.

Pink describes three elements of true motivation:

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Fostering Growth using the Mentoring Parenting Style

What is your normal parenting style?  Do you give your kids orders?  Do you do a lot of things for them that they are capable of doing thems...