Do not spank children: mental health is at risk

Statements by the Texas senator sparked the debate. A psychiatrist raises the alarm: "Spank them teaches to use the language of violence"

Recently a statement released by Texas Senator Ted Cruz sparked a heated debate on the consequences of spanking children. The future candidate running for the presidency of the United States, said he would spank his five-year-old daughter to punish her whenever the child mind.

The psychiatrist Ronald Pies of SUNY Upstate Medical University responded to the question, responding to the risks that this educational modality could entail over time. In fact, mental health could be compromised, leaving serious consequences until adulthood.

The psychiatrist: violence is learned

The topic actually has always attracted the attention of parents and educators, meeting sometimes conflicting opinions. However the psychiatrist Ronald Pies seems to have a clear opinion in this regard: in the long run the spanking used in order to punish children, not only do not get any results, but convey the message that violence is the only way to respond to one mistake and solve a problem.

As a result, children will also be aggressive with their peers, believing that their behavior is in line with the education received. Violence is in fact learned as well as any other moral attitude or value. In America, the problem is particularly acute, so much so that in June 2015, a couple was removed from parental rights by the Massachusetts Supreme Court because of continuous corporal punishment.

Focus on dialogue and symbolic punishment

Spanking children is not an effective educational strategy. Children need to feel welcomed and understood and when they have difficulty grasping the meaning of the rules, responding with violence does not help them to clarify their doubts. Sometimes the rules are not explained to the child or are fixed but immediately denied by one of the two parents. The classic case in which the mother gives the rules and the father secretly allows the child to break them. In this state of confusion, it is completely normal for the child to make mistakes. When this happens it is advisable to sit down and talk about it with a purposeful, calm and relaxed attitude. It can be useful to give examples and explain that the rules should not be broken. As an alternative to spanking, it is possible to establish together symbolic punishments that imply for the child the renunciation of activities or games to which he especially cares.

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