OUCH?! Is Disciplining Children Seriously Harmful When Parents Spank or Yell?

Written by Kevin Fobbs on February 26, 2015

With ISIS on the march in Syria and Iraq, it is probably safe to say that most parents are more concerned in the immediate moment with what their kid is doing or more importantly not doing again for the 20th time. That’s because the winter weather that has been shutting down most of America outdoors has all but escalated the bad behavior of many kids indoors, causing parents much grief.

So what is a parent to do if according to a past study spanking and yelling are off limits? Do you feel that disciplining your child by spanking or yelling should be off the table when your child misbehaves?

Of course, for many children who grew up before the 1990‘s, when the onset of politically correct practices have neutered a parent’s ability to discipline their child for fear of local Children Protective Services being called, spanking and yelling was not thought to be harmful if done in moderation.

Now, heaven forbid a neighbor or even a disapproving family member hears the words, “Go outdoors and get me a switch,” being uttered from your lips. Worse yet, if you say the words and they record it on their phone camera and post it to YouTube you may be the next unpopular viral parent to be discussed on Twitter and in social media.

What exactly are parents left with in this progressive politically correct environment? As you make an attempt to discipline your child in public or even in the privacy of your own home do you feel the handcuffs of conformity on you? Just where is that line where harsh words become yelling, punitive punishment. What about “shut up!” or “Shut up because I said so!” as the instant remedy for silencing their child and shutting down bad behavior. What is the next step, when the child hurls those words back at you?

One post-yelling-and-spanking-era mom felt a little bewildered about just where the line truly is for “correct” parental behavior. Kerry Lyons of Irvington, New York commented, “I feel guilty and I feel like I just wish I had more control,” reported TODAY Moms

The line of reasonable parental discipline can most likely be found in just how far the words go from firmness to escalating to a continuous uncontrolled avalanche of words that spill out of a parent’s mouth. Lyons stressed, “It’s the ‘rotten, mean and nasty’ yelling – the kind that scares her kids, she offered that she needed to stop doing,” according to TODAY Moms.

Here is a thought while you are staring your misbehaving child down as he or she goes into their third or fourth tantrum of the day. A good number of child behavioral experts have concluded that yelling is counterproductive when you are disciplining your child, because it does not teach the child anything about correcting behavior.

When yelling is used as a discipline measure it has a worsening impact upon teens according to a recent study published in the Child Development Journal. “Harsh verbal discipline – defined as a parent yelling, cursing and hurling insults, such as calling the child dumb or lazy – is a common practice among American families with adolescents,” the study affirms.

This of course is not to say that parents should not be using corrective disciplinary measures as you make oftentimes futile attempts to fight your misbehaving child’s winter season cabin fever. But perhaps take a few steps back from the verbal edge and count to ten before using words in your verbal arsenal.

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Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs has more than 35 years of wide-ranging experience as a community and tenant organizer, Legal Services outreach program director, public relations consultant, business executive, gubernatorial and presidential appointee, political advisor, widely published writer, and national lecturer. Kevin is co-chair and co-founder of AC-3 (American-Canadian Conservative Coalition) that focuses on issues on both sides of the border between the two countries.