Texas Parenting News
What’s wrong with spanking?
Any regrets about how you raised Tommy?” asks Deidre, as she and friends plan his high school graduation party.
“Actually, yes,” says Theresa. “Probably the biggest is spanking him when he misbehaved.”
“Don’t feel so bad,” says Norma. “Our parents spanked us, right? And we turned out OK.”
“Yeah, but I remember how I felt while spanking him. I felt like a monster, and he was just a little guy,” says Theresa. “The memory still haunts me.”
Every parent has regrets because nobody is perfect. Some of us may spank just because our parents or grandparents did or because some authoritative source condones it. Spanking may have been the norm years ago, but we have more enlightened practices now.
Some reasons not to spank
Spanking may say more about a parent’s anger than about a child’s behavior. A child’s sassy backtalk or misbehavior can make us fly off the handle and may even lead to abuse.
Spanking says that violence solves problems. “If you don’t like something, just hit.” It says bigger is stronger and may be perceived as bullying.
Spanking damages the parent-child relationship, especially trust. A child views the parent as caring and protective. Spanking can create fear and lessen the parent’s influence.
Spanking can teach children to lie to avoid detection. “No, I didn’t take Annie’s doll. She must have lost it.” Nobody wants to suffer pain, and younger children don’t know that lying is wrong.
Spanking does not teach correct behavior. It can be especially confusing when a child is being spanked for hitting someone.
As parents, we need to examine what we consider misbehavior. With young children, it’s likely that they simply don’t know what acceptable behavior is or that they’re imitating what they see on TV or in others.
Children can make us angry at times. We need to remember that we are the adults, which means staying calm and thinking through a situation. It may require counting to 10, breathing deeply, and sitting quietly with the child.
To teach correct behavior, we need to say what we expect. “We speak respectfully to each other. Can you say what you want in a different way?” “We take turns playing with toys.” “We speak softly when the baby is asleep.”
We may have to repeat expectations and rules several times before children can remember them. It helps to demonstrate what we mean, such as stroking the cat gently instead of grabbing its tail. In some cases, we have the child correct a misbehavior, such has cleaning scribbles off the wall or paying us back for a broken window by giving up part of an allowance.
It’s also possible that children misbehave to get attention. We need to consider how we are showing our care and affection and perhaps spend extra time talking with the child about feelings and concerns.
When thunder roars, go indoors
With spring rain comes lightning, and lightning strikes can cause serious injury and even death. According to the National Weather Service, the threat increases as a thunderstorm approaches, continues while overhead, and diminishes as it leaves.
When you see or hear a thunderstorm approaching, don’t delay. Go indoors immediately. Children in an open soccer field or riding their bicycles in the street are in danger. Don’t seek shelter under a tree, in an open vehicle, or in a small shed or rain hut. You need to be in a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle.
About a third of lightning injuries occur indoors, so once inside, avoid contact with the following:
corded phones (cell phones are OK),
electrical equipment and electronics (don’t use your computer, TV, washer, dryer, or anything connected to an electrical outlet),
plumbing (no bathing), and
windows and doors.
Avoid concrete walls and floors. Lightning can travel through the metal bars and wires inside the concrete. Don’t stand on porches or balconies.
Bring pets inside. Doghouses are not safe shelters.
Wait 30 minutes after the last lighting flash or thunder rumble before going back outside.
When planning outdoor activities, check the weather forecast. Remember this slogan: “When thunder roars, go indoors.”
See the following websites:
National Weather Service, “Lightning Safety,” www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Lightning Safety Tips,” http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/lightning/safetytips.asp
Introducing the elementary school counselor
For many of us, the school counselor was a high school staff member who helped with course changes and college applications. Today, however, many public and private elementary schools—prekindergarten through fifth grade—have guidance counselors.
As you enroll your child in pre-K or a primary grade, you may find the school counselor a helpful resource.
What does the counselor do?
In general, counselors work to help all students fully develop their academic skills, begin planning for a career, and develop their personal and social abilities. Ideally, elementary counselors work in areas such as the following:
Classroom guidance. A counselor may come into a classroom at specific times to address basic skills such as responsible behavior, problem solving, and character development. A counselor is a professional educator who teaches skills at the child’s development level.
Responsive services. A counselor may intervene on behalf of a student with immediate personal concerns that may affect academic performance or personal well-being, such as grieving when a family member has died. The intervention may consist of short-term individual counseling or small-group sessions.
Individual planning. A counselor may guide teachers and families to assist with an individual student’s needs, such as modifying instructional techniques, identifying gifted and talented potential, interpreting standardized test scores and other assessment results, and making referrals to other in-school or outside agency programs. Counselors are in touch with a variety of charitable organizations in the community, and may be able to obtain eyeglasses for a needy student, for example.
Community concerns. A counselor may coordinate programs such as Just Say No to Drugs or Red Ribbon Week that are designed to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, for example. When a disaster hits a particular school, all counselors in the district may be summoned to the school to assist in counseling students.
Realistically, a particular counselor’s duties depend on the school. Because of budget constraints, the counselor may work with a large number of students and have limited time and resources.
How to contact the counselor
If you think your child might benefit from seeing the counselor, check with your child’s teacher. The teacher may arrange for the counselor to get in touch with you or give you information about making contact.
Remember that getting involved in your child’s education will improve your child’s chances for success. Attend the school’s open house in early fall and meet your child’s teacher, the principal, and the counselor. Attend individual parent-teacher conferences as they are scheduled throughout the year to review your child’s academic progress. Participate in the parent-teacher organization, and if possible volunteer your time—every little bit helps—and your skills.
Kate Anderson, a speech pathologist in the Austin Independent School District, summed up the elementary counselor this way: “In high school, the counselor is your advisor. In elementary school, the counselor is your friend.”
For more information about school counselors, from elementary through secondary levels, see the website of the American School Counselor Association, www.schoolcounselor.org.