Pediatrician Dr. Bill Sears is the author of more than 30 books on childcare, has appeared on dozens of national talk shows, provides medical and parenting guidance for Parenting and BabyTalk magazines, received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital, is an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California, Irvine School of Medicine and raised eight kids of his own – three of whom are also pediatricians.
He recently authored an article on 10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child. And I’ll be honest, I was surprised an article like this still needs to be written. And, I imagine for my readers, it’s probably not because you understand that the legacy you are leaving happens in the now moment and it starts with how you are with your children.
Creating a bond of secure attachment and unconditional love (without codependence or enabling) with your children is the greatest gift you could leave the world. So, if you, or anyone you know, does think hitting a child is acceptable behavior under any circumstances, here’s the first 5 of 10 reasons to rethink that thought.
And, just for fun, add the word “yelling” or “yell” to each place it says “hitting” and “hit” — hitting and yelling have the same effect in the nervous system of a child.
1. Hitting models hitting. Children love to imitate so when you hit a child, you are teaching them it is OK to hit someone when they are angry or frustrated. This is not behavior we want to see more of in the world, right?
2. Hitting devalues a child. A child’s self-image is formed first by his or her parents; hitting your child tells them you think they – and not their behavior – are bad. Instead, consider focusing on the activity that you do not want to see repeated and discussing why that activity does not get them more of what they want.
3. Hitting devalues a parent. Parents who hit their children harm themselves because deep down they know it isn’t right. Anytime you are engaging in any activity that you know inside isn’t right, you will feel insecure about yourself as a person. And that’s one of the biggest barriers to success. The good news is that you can so easily turn it around by doing only things you know deep down are right.
4. Hitting can lead to abuse. Hitting can escalate into other abusive behavior. The worst part is that you may even convince yourself that the abusive behavior is justified. It never is. Criticizing, hitting and otherwise shaming our children is abusive. Just don’t do it.
5. Hitting doesn’t improve the behavior. Spanking actually makes a child’s behavior worse since they believe the punishment is unjust. When someone believes a punishment is unjust, they don’t change their behavior, they just do it more.
You don’t need to hit to get your point across. If you are hitting out of anger, seek help. There’s no shame in asking for support.
Next week, I’ll be back with 5 more reasons not to hit (or yell at) children. In the meantime, if you need support with leaving a legacy of love to the people you love most, schedule a Family Estate Planning Session. You can reach us at 818.905.6088.