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ZetaTalk: Spanking
Note: written on Dec 15, 1996

A frequent argument among those asserting to be child rearing experts is whether to coddle or punish the child, whether to allow the child to explore his or her world without any restrictions or to limit their scope by drawing boundaries and borders everywhere, whether to express consequences as a long serious discussion with the child or the withdrawal of food or privileges or even physical punishment such as spanking. Should children be spanked?

Advocates of spanking point out that the technique works. They say the child comes into line, may smart for a moment or two and sulk a bit, but then understands clearly where the limits and boundaries are drawn and thereafter has a more peaceful life. Well, of course, the parent's life has become more peaceful, but this is hardly the case for the child. The child’s turmoil has gone underground, simmering and roiling within the child, who has suddenly lost confidence that its parents understand anything at all about what the child is dealing with. Reaching for a cookie results in a burst of violence from the mother, but doesn’t the father reach eagerly for his beer and popcorn when watching the game? The child does not associate concepts of healthy food and a growing body with this action. The child is hardly at peace as a result of this spanking, he is in shock.

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