Deseret News, May 9, 1998
Spanking denounced as ineffective, harmful--Expert at 'Families Alive' urges positive discipline
By Jenifer K. Nii, staff writer
Parents who spank their children may find it coming back to bite them in the end, counseling psychologist H. Stephen Glenn said Thursday.
Speaking at Weber State University's "Families Alive" conference, Glenn said although most parents would prefer a non-violent alternative, more than 90 percent end up using spanking to punish their children.
"Usually, it's by default," Glenn said. "It's all they know how to do."
But just because something is familiar doesn't mean it's right, or effective.
"Corporal punishment is the least effective method," Glenn said. "Punishment reinforces a failure identity. It reinforces rebellion, resistance, revenge and resentment. And, what people who spank children will learn is that it teaches more about you than it does about them that the whole goal is to crush the child. It's not dignified, and it's not respectful."
Children who have been spanked are more likely to have developmental or social problems, Glenn said.
"They'll either be dominated by more aggressive people in their environment and be very disrespectful of the people they get power over, or be horribly vulnerable when you're not there to sort out their lives." Instead of imposing corporal punishment, Glenn recommends that parents use positive discipline on their children.
"I hate it when people who spank their kids say they do it to 'discipline' them," he said. "It's not discipline. It's punishment. Discipline stems from the word 'disciple,' meaning a follower of principle. It entails firmness, with dignity and respect. Punishment is about anger, oppression, disrespect, imposing control." Disciplining children takes more time, but it is time well-spent, Glenn said.
"Discipline increases a child's problem-solving skills and success ideation: the belief that 'I can do better'; and it produces long-term improvement. Punishment is expedient, a short-term solution."
Glenn suggested things every parent can do to develop his or her disciplinary skills.
- Parents should learn more effective ways to manage their time. As more and more households shift to two wage-earner households, or have only one parent in the home, time becomes scarce. And, "wise people, when they have very limited time, learn to make the most of it," Glenn said. "Take a little time to do the most important job you'll do in your life effectively."
Glenn has developed a program to help. The "Developing Capable People" program will, he said, "help people learn how, with five minutes a week, they can really make a difference with their kids. Or, with parents who stay at home, how 95 percent of their time is wasted."
It also teaches parents seven strategies to use with their children to build self-confidence and positive discipline.
Glenn said anyone can learn the principles he teaches, but he does require commitment commitment to attend the 10-week seminar and the commitment to implement the principles.
"We've developed a very simple system that anyone who shares our vision can be affected by. But it does require training it's like fitness. You can't read about fitness and get fit. You need to get out and do it."
- Glenn said parents should find a support group, either on the Internet or in their community, where they can share feelings and information. Parents need a non-threatening place or means to hook up with resources, Glenn said, and for many people the support group can provide that.
Most importantly, parents need to learn how to talk with their children, Glenn said with them, rather than to them.
"Talk with your kids about the things that are important to you. Don't talk to them. Talk with your kids about the things you see in your community, about what they think. When I started talking with my kids, I started to learn how their world came together with mine."
The "Families Alive" conference is in its 17th year and is sponsored by Weber State University's department of child and family studies. For more information about Glenn's training program, "Developing Capable People," call 800-222-1494.