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.

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.

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