Spanking is one of the most controversial areas of discipline, and the controversy only heightens when you throw adoption into the mix. I know a man who adopted an older child whose birth parents had routinely beaten the child and his siblings. This adoptive father had to find alternative ways to curb the child’s behavior. He pointed out that when a child has endured numerous beatings, a swat on the behind is not going to make a difference in his behavior.
While what this adoptive father said is true, I see the real damage coming from the flashbacks that a spanking could trigger. The child’s history has already connected love and pain, so spanking a child who has suffered physical abuse is a very bad idea. A child who is having difficulty trusting his adoptive parents needs to know that he is safe in his new home. Even one swat on the bottom can undermine all of the progress that has been made in bonding.
What about spanking an adopted child without a history of abuse? Is that ever okay? You will find people on both sides of the fence, and both sides support their positions vehemently.
I do not think spanking is a good first choice for most transgressions. I believe that, if you plan to spank your child, you should use it as a last resort because nothing else is working. I would also reserve spankings for life-threatening situations, such as the child who repeatedly darts into the street and has not been responsive to any other forms of discipline. In most non-life-threatening situations, there are other discipline tools that will work just as effectively, if not more so, in curbing behavior. You should never spank your child out of anger or frustration, and a spank should never leave marks on your child’s body.
If you adopted a child with special needs, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you might need to spank your child occasionally in order to curb dangerous impulsive behavior. While there are many children without special needs whose behaviors can be curbed without ever resorting to spanking, some special needs kids are resistant to any form of discipline that does not have some degree of physical contact. Then again, some special needs kids are even resistant to spanking, too, which is where creative discipline ideas come into play. (See my next post for more on this topic.) Be sure to check out the Parenting Special Kids blog for more on spankings as they apply to special needs children.
Photo credit: Faith Allen