I’d honestly like to hear your opinion on this question which recently came up in a discussion group for stepparents of difficult children …
Which is worse (or, conversely, which is better) –
1) no physical discipline, but plenty of verbal; or
2) calm, physical discipline?
This question came up after a rather passionate discussion of how parents and stepparents handled hard-to-control children. Some were vehemently opposed to any sort of “physical violence” such as spanking, slapping, or bodily lifting and placing a child in a chair. Their reasoning was that violence begets violence. If you teach a child that hitting is acceptable, that child will fall back on hitting when he or she is excited.
The negative side of this group was that they admitted to far-too-often succumbing to the temptation to scream at their children to get their attention. Instead of grabbing Junior up from the TV and making him get moving, the tended to steadily increase from telling, to yelling, to screaming at him to move. They confessed they “lost it” at least once a week.
The “spare the rod, spoil the child” group first categorically insisted they had specific guidelines regarding corporeal punishment: when, how, and why to spank or slap, and usually had a follow-up strategy. Their method is generally to avoid emotional outbursts and to administer fair amounts of physical discipline, from bottom swats, to hand slaps, to lifting and removing the child.
Both sides were solid in their belief that theirs was the best way, and both had many examples of how well their own program worked for their children.
But this was a fairly small group – only 6 couples. So I decided to expand this question. I’d like to know how most families deal with discipline/guidance for their unruly children. Please answer using the anonymous option on the comment page so there is no question of anyone getting in trouble.
Other stepparents and biological parents are facing the same issues you are. I know they’d like to hear your opinions and your reasoning for your side.
STEPcoach, Bob Collins