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[personal profile] amberskyfire
Can you tell I'm feeling angsty today?

Never Violence

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:
Mothering.com - get advice from other parents!
La Leche League - what is gentle discipline.
Gentle Christian Mothers
Gentle Parenting

Gentle discipline works. Spanking does not. Please, let's work together to end the cycle of violence and abuse.

Date: 2009-10-17 01:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sbeth76.livejournal.com
I'm a dyed-in-the-wool behaviorist and I really liked this. I do not always think that punishment is bad. Sometimes I believe it is an ethical choice, but I really, really don't like physical violence against children. Punishment, as per a behaviorist definition, is a stimulus change, contingent on behavior, that results in that behavior's decrease over time.

Date: 2009-10-17 01:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amberskyfire.livejournal.com
I don't like using any kind of punishment, but I have found something that works amazingly well. I used it with my stepdaughter and I use it with Aryquin. I don't know if it has a name or not, but I call it "social discipline." Basically, it's disciplining your child the way you would another adult. You can't hit a friend or a husband, so how would you correct behavior you didn't like?

For example, I begin by stopping the behavior by stopping the child, getting down on their level, looking in their eyes and talking to them about what happened and how I feel about it. If they persist or do not feel sorry, then I use social interaction (or lack thereof) to discipline. If Aryquin hits me, I turn my back and ignore her. If my stepdaughter was rude to me, I would ignore her. Disappointment is also a huge deal with children. If I felt disappointment with my stepdaughter, I would show her.

I found that punishment doesn't work for me at all. It just seems to make the child feel angry. It makes them feel resentful. I find it more effective to make the child truly sorry for what they did.

Date: 2009-10-17 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amberskyfire.livejournal.com
After going back and reading that again, I think you and I have the same idea, but you meant to say "discipline?" Yes discipline is good and what we all need. But you are right, there is NO reason it should involve violence.

Discipline is correcting a behavior, but punishment is when you do something TO the child in a way that violates their body or their possessions in a way that makes them feel as though they do not have control over what you are doing - essentially so they feel powerless in the face of the adult. Punishment is meant as a tool to cause the child emotional distress or perhaps anger or fear at having it happen again.

I think punishment/anti-punishment is a personal choice for the parent. Both are gentler forms of discipline than hitting, but punishment has sort of the same idea. You want to inflict some kind of emotional upset on the child in order for them to learn not to do that behavior again, but making them stand in a corner or taking something away from them or grounding them doesn't teach them the tools they need to know to discipline themselves. It makes them angry and resentful much the same way that spanking does and while I feel it is less damaging in many ways, punishment still causes a lot of problems.

Punishing a child still makes them feel resentful. It make them uncooperative and makes them only want not to get caught. We know now that punishment in a marriage type relationship is unhealthy and doesn't work, and it's the same with children. I like a more cooperative approach where you appeal to the child's social and emotional nature to make them understand why they should not do what they did, how it makes you feel, and make them truly feel sorry for it on a deep emotional level that will make them want to avoid it in the future because it's what they WANT to do, not because they will be punished for it.

Date: 2009-10-17 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennifer19.livejournal.com
you are both saying the same thing using different terms. in behavioral psych, punishment is the introduction of a negative stimulus. ignoring is a negative stimulus. thats all.

Date: 2009-10-17 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amberskyfire.livejournal.com
I differentiate the two based on bodily integrity, though. Ignoring her does not put control over her, her body, or her possessions. It is a social/behavioral reaction: "I don't like what you did, so I don't want to be around that behavior." It isn't forcing something on the child's body like standing in a corner or taking away something that belongs to them.

Date: 2009-10-18 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sbeth76.livejournal.com
I agree with you based on your definition, but I still use the term punishment instead of discipline because what you are calling discipline and I am calling punishment has been referred to as punishment within a certain body of literature (behaviorism/radical behaviorism) within which I work/publish/study. But yeah, I hear a lot of what you are saying and I agree. The technique you use when you turn your back and ignore Aryquin when she hits you is something that I would categorize as "negative punishment" (i.e. you remove a stimulus [attention] contingent upon behavior [hitting] that results in the future reduction of her hitting). An example of "positive punishment" would be adding a stimulus [i.e. reprimands like "no hitting"] contingent upon behavior (hitting) that results in a future reduction of hitting. It's a little confusing until you get used to the unusual way that the terms positive and negative are used. Positive (in behaviorism) means adding and negative means removing. Reinforcement results in behavior increasing and punishment means that behavior decreases. But fundamentally, I think that you and I agree, we are just using language in a different way.

Date: 2009-10-17 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inniu.livejournal.com
this is so awesome because now i have a concise concrete (easy to read!) article to print out for my husband, who is still of the old school mind (read: not thinking for himself!) that you have to teach your kids to fear you. i swear he just spouts this crap from some deeply unconscious place because he doesn't act this way toward logan ever. but better to seal the deal with an article like this than to have that argument down the line after the damage has been done.

aren't we so lucky to live in a time when people are making a true effort to parent consciously? so so awesome...

Date: 2009-10-17 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amberskyfire.livejournal.com
I agree! You know, I feel that it has a lot to do with women's rights. We are coming out of a time when women were just property. They had no right to choose their husband and were owned like a piece of cattle. I can see how they might not feel genuine love or respect for their children a lot of the time. Most of them didn't even have the choice of whether or not they wanted children or when or by whom. Fathers were actually encouraged not to show much love for their children.

When you begin to give people respect and control over their own lives, they begin to show those feelings toward others. It's awesome :)

Date: 2009-10-17 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] girlx512.livejournal.com

Really, I don't have much more to say :)

Date: 2009-10-17 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aquaenigma.livejournal.com
I agree 100 percent. I have Hilary Flowers book Adventures in Gentle Discipline, Jake and I both agree that spanking is NOT an ok way to discipline a child, for which I am grateful, seeing as how his family spanks and his father was abusive.

Date: 2009-10-17 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amberskyfire.livejournal.com
My husband unfortunately does think that it is okay, but in our relationship, he has a lot of respect for what I believe, so we meet halfway and have agreed that he will not hit my step daughter or our daughter so long as I agree to be the disciplinarian. It's worked these last 10 years!

My father was abusive and I am just so glad that I was strong and felt enough anger toward him growing up that I used it to remove abuse from my life. I've always been stubborn. I never backed down and kept that anger and it kept me from choosing abusive relationships and made me want to be a gentle mother to my own children. This cycle end NOW. With me :)

Date: 2009-10-17 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracepersists.livejournal.com
I'm the same way. My father was abusive towards me when I was growing up, and though it caused me to make some stupid decisions in relationships when I was younger, I know I'll never EVER hit my children.

Date: 2009-10-17 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennifer19.livejournal.com
love this!

Date: 2009-10-17 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rowan-ree.livejournal.com
Here here!!

Date: 2009-10-18 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yesididit.livejournal.com
i agree with this. i was only spanked a select few times in my life, when i had done something very horrible and i understood that i had done something *very bad*, but i cannot remember now what it ever was i'd done, i just remember getting spanked.

i had a bf whose father just spanked for ALL bad behavior, even up until he was 12 years old. he only stopped the spanking when my exbf laughed at him afterwords.

in raising my dogs and training them, (not kids, i know) i buy into the positive training methods. no jerks on a chain to train heeling, no rolling on their back to establish dominance, no swatting with a newspaper, and no pushing their nose into accidents. it may take a little longer for the dogs to catch on or take more effort on my part, but they *DO* catch on.

wouldnt you rather they *wanted* to do something instead of avoided something out of fear of pain or punishment? my dogs come running when i call, they sit when i ask, and puppy willingly goes to his crate when i tell him. he even goes in there on his own if someone knocks at the door. why? because he knows he'll get a treat, he figured the doorbell part out on his own! he knows nothing bad ever happens in his crate. i have to get a crate for molly, but i cant afford one yet. then we'll start positive crate training for her as well. she's already learned lay down and stay just from treats and praise. and if the dogs do something bad, like molly accidentally nipping me while playing tug, i just yip, stop the game, and walk away. the loss of my attention is punishment enough for them. all they want is my attention.

and i realize that some things are my fault. like giving the dogs a stuffed animal with beanies in it. when they tear it apart and spread the little beanies everywhere, i'm the one who should have caught that there were beanies and not gotten that stuffie. i pick up stuffed animals at garage sales and thrift stores for them to destroy and play tug with. i say this because they just did that as i was typing this and now i have a mess to clean up. but they didnt do anything wrong, they did exactly what they were supposed to, they played and tugged nicely with each other. they destroyed only what they know is ok to destroy. now wheres that vacuum attachment...

Date: 2009-10-19 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sailorneptune.livejournal.com
Hrm. Mixed feelings.

I myself was spanked (or beaten, whatever word you want to use to describe violent physical abuse) as a child. Some of the "In a nutshell" is true, and some is just plain insulting and hurts almost as much as the abuse did.

I have never thought that hitting someone was an appropriate way to deal with ANYTHING. I would sooner die than harm my own children, and I abhor any type of confrontation, especially physical ones.

The beatings I received kept me fearful, so I never went out of line. I never rebelled with drugs, alcohol, partying, skipping class, etc. That fear helped me realize that it's never right to use force to have someone agree with you or to prove any point.

I know my case isn't like all the other cases, but I feel kind of bad for being accused of thinking that hitting kids is okay because I was hit as a kid.

Date: 2009-10-21 01:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imogen-blue.livejournal.com
my mother & her family were violently abusive.
it does make you feel worthless.
it's also made me anti any kind of abuse.
no one has the right to hit a child. they should never be given the impression that it is okay to hurt them because you are big & they are small.

i love pippi longstocking.