Science and Spanking

So, there have been some new studies lately regarding spanking. While I realize that many Christians don’t give a fig what the scientists say, many do and I thought it might be helpful to link to some articles about these studies.

Here is an article from Scientific American.

Here is an article from IFL Science.

I also have a nice article from Psychology Today which looks at child development and explains that many of kids’ so-called “naughty” behaviors are developmental and human.

Is it good parenting to let a baby cry?

It is always so sad to see letting a little baby cry be associated with doing what’s best for the child. Science proves otherwise and so does the Bible. I do not see anywhere in the Bible where it teaches that it is good to let a baby cry. On the contrary, God associates Himself with loving arms and full breasts meeting a baby’s needs.

Here are some of my other posts about Crying It Out.

More from Under Much Grace

I would like to draw your attention to some more interesting posts from Under Much Grace.

What It’s Like to Experience Only the Right Side of the Brain in the Way that Children Do (A Neuroscientist Experiences a Stroke on the Left, Analytical Side of the Brain) which debunks the Pearls’ claim that very young children exercise their diabolical wills to dominate their parents.

More from Janet Heimlich on Problematic and Abusive Corporal Punishment within Evangelical Christianity which debunks the common belief that spanking is non-optional for Christians.

And speaking of the science of children’s brains, you might be interested in How Stress Affects Your Child’s Brain.

The Science Behind Happy And Compliant Children

Cindy of Under Much Grace explains the scientific evidence that shows the damage done to children who suffer harsh punishment from a young age.  Parents who follow Pearls’ advice to punish toddlers for age appropriate behaviors may end up with seemingly happy and compliant children, but at what price?

Where Did Pearl Say This?

In this interview in the National Post, Pearl is quoted as saying:

But, I have said many times, when a spanking is not working, stop doing it. There are times when children become so emotionally torn that they have ceased all cognitive activity. Spanking is then counterproductive.

Frankly, I don’t recall him every saying that.  If he has published this sentiment, I would like to know where because this quote needs much exposure.  His followers need to be aware that he says this because this could really make a difference in the life of some children and maybe even save a life.  Although, it is still rather vague, it is a step in the right direction.

Edited to add:  Apparently Pearl was referring to this article where he said

You should not spank beyond your fellowship with the child. If you feel that your spanking is excessive, it is because it is not working. If it is not working to produce happy, creative kids, then you are missing one of the other elements we discussed. You have probably forgotten how to relax and enjoy your children. Or perhaps you have failed to train. The bottom line is that if other things are equal, and you give a child a spanking every time he needs it, the time will soon come when he will not need to be spanked so often, and eventually not at all.

More doublespeak.  In the next breath he accuses them of failing to train properly and promises that if you are consistent things will get better.  He have seen him accuse people of deliberately misunderstanding his meaning, but I really feel that he is vague and expecting people to make mental leaps which not all people are able to make.

Also, if anyone knows where he got these statistics which he quotes, I’d be interested.  Was it from the research study or somewhere else?

Research has shown that the properly trained, nurtured and spanked child scores higher on all positive measures both as a child and as an adult. Spanking as part — a small part — of a comprehensive nurturing process instills self control and disciplined in a child, rendering him more emotionally stable and balanced as an adult. Every child was spanked up until Dr. Spock. Now only about 75% are spanked with no malice aforethought, and another 20% are occasionally spanked or hit by angry out of control parents that profess not to believe in it…

In his interview on AC360 Mr. Pearl mentioned the same research on spanking and Anderson Cooper delves deeper into that in another segment.  Before linking I want to warn you that it opens with the very upsetting video of Judge William Adams beating his daughter.  After that it recaps prior interviews with Michael Pearl and then moves on to Dr. Drew Pinsky and Po Bronson talking to Anderson Cooper about the science behind physically disciplining children. In The Science of Spanking, Anderson Cooper asks Dr. Drew Pinsky and Po Bronson what they think of the Pearl method and it should come as no surprise that they did not find it healthy in any way, shape or form.

The only problem with this interview is that they make a big point of discussing how spanking in anger is even more damaging.  This will probably cause Pearl and most of his followers to argue that spanking without anger will cause no damage at all.  They are so very wrong.  But then of course, Pearl and his followers tend to discount science except for when it supports their beliefs so it’s probably a moot point.


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