Can you tell I'm feeling angsty today?
By Astrid Lindgren
Reprinted from Father Times
, Spring 1995, Volume 3, Issue 4. Astrid Lindgren is author of Pippi Longstocking
Above all, I believe that there should never be any violence. In 1978 I received a peace prize in West Germany for my books, and I gave an accepting speech that I called just that: "Never Violence." And in that speech I told a story from my own experience.
When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor's wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn't believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking - the first of his life. And she told him that he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, "Mama, I couldn't find a switch, but here's a rock that you can throw at me."
All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child's point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because violence begins in the nursery— one can raise children into violence.
Spanking Lowers Children's IQ: Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma LA Times The Examiner Why Spanking Doesn't Work: Ask Dr. Sears Ask Mr. Dad The Parenting Doctor In a Nutshell:
- Spanking teaches children that it is okay to hit others.
- Spanking teaches children to use force against those smaller than them.
- Spanking teaches children that it is appropriate to use violence to get your own way.
- Teaching a child to hit does not teach them the resources to solve problems in a non-violent way.
- Spanking, like all abuse, is cyclical. If you teach it to your children, they will teach it to theirs.
- Girls who are spanked are more likely to choose abusive relationships as an adult.
- Spanking your child makes them more likely to severely abuse their own children
- Teaches children that what they want, what they think, and how they feel is worthless and does not matter.
- Spanking and hitting is humiliating to a child.
- Spanking sets you up for disaster in the future. You will have no way to control your children when they are too old to be spanked and years of being hit will make them have no respect for you. Parents who hit their children cannot find ways to control older children and teenagers who have always been hit rather than being taught morals.
- Spanking breaks down all trust in the parent-child relationship so that the child will distance him/herself from the parents when they are older. It is almost impossible to effectively communicate with an older child who has pushed a parent out. A child who has not been hit does not fear the parent and so feels comfortable sharing how they feel and will listen better to the advice of the adult. They do not keep things secret for fear of being punished.
-Physical punishment creates violent tendencies in children and sometimes the psychological damage is irreversible. "But my parents spanked me and I'm fine."
No, you are not fine. Your parents hit you when you were little and they taught you that it's okay to hit little children, too. "But it works. Look, I hit him/her and she/he stops and does what I say."
Spanking does not work. Using fear and pain to control a child works in the short-term, but not in the long term. It does not teach a child how to behave based on morals or empathy. It teaches them to avoid a behavior only at times when they are most likely to get caught and receive physical punishment from the parent. "Spanking makes a child think about what they did."
No. Spanking NEVER makes a child think about what they did. If you think that, you obviously don't remember being a child. Punishment in general does not make a child sorry for what they did. It makes them sorry they got caught. After punishment, a child NEVER sits and thinks "wow, what I did was really wrong. I love my mommy and next time I'll do the right thing because I want to make her happy." No. A child who has been hit or punished feels resentment toward the parent: "I HATE MOMMY! I hate you! I hate you!" They feel anger and they feel violent because violence has been used against them. Children who are hit fear their parents and feel anger toward them and seek out retribution. They do not feel respect. "But some children NEED to be hit."
Seriously. Get help. "I'm the parent. My child needs to do what I say and when I say it."
Teaching your child that they have no rights will, like with ANY human being, even an adult, cause them to push back. Children have the same feelings, desires, and emotions as an adult. Really, the only difference is that they are smaller and easy to push around. But think about it; do you have to be hit in order to do what you are supposed to do? Why do you do the right thing? In your family, do you always do what your husband tells you to? Your wife? Relationships are a two-way street. You give some, you take some. Would it be okay if your husband smacked you around? Should it be okay for a husband to hit his wife if she doesn't do what he wants her to do immediately? Why is it okay for an adult to hit a child, but not okay for an adult to hit another adult? "How do I discipline my child without hitting him/her?"
Gentle discipline works and it works in both the short-term and the long-term. Just the same way that you make decisions for yourself because you are inherently good, guiding a child helps teach them to also make good decisions for themselves because they are also inherently good. No child is born "bad." They are made that way by those who care for them. It should not take an entire lifetime for a child to learn to behave. It is something that can be instilled in them from their earliest days. To learn how to effectively discipline your child, see:
- get advice from other parents! La Leche League
- what is gentle discipline.Gentle Christian MothersGentle Parenting
Gentle discipline works. Spanking does not. Please, let's work together to end the cycle of violence and abuse.