In Africa, it is said that the community grooms your child with you. This has to an extent given strangers an entitlement mentality and they want to teach you how to train your child especially your toddler.

They tell you things like:

‘Beat am well-well e know wetin he dey do, so dat e nor go spoil’ (pidgin English for ‘Spank the child hard because the child is doing it deliberately, this will ensure the child grows upright)

In truth, spanking a toddler can lead to aggressive behaviour or timidness. Note that your toddler is just getting to understand the meaning of things, emotions and feelings. S/He probably is still learning how to join words to make meaning in a sentence so how is s/he suppose to understand that what they are doing is wrong?

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Spanking may seem like the right way t correct them and show them what is right and what is wrong but it most often than not, sends other messages you never intended to send like:

  • Fear Me: Spanking teaches your child to fear. Especially in Africa where parents have mastered the art of using their facial gestures to threaten you with another spanking. Toddlers react differently to spanking and may not listen to you or respect you instead, may feel humiliated and resentful, and retaliate by being uncooperative. The result: You won’t be able to reason with your toddler nor set effective limits for your child.
  • Poor self-esteem: Many studies have shown that hitting your child can hurt his sense of self more than his body. Your toddler might feel unwanted, bad or self loathe or unloved. Studies at Temple University by the late psychologist Irwin Hyman and colleagues have shown that regardless of how nurturing a family is, spanking always lowers self-esteem.
  • Don’t Trust Me: Spanking doesn’t teach your child that s/he has made a mistake but teaches your child to believe that when s/he make mistakes, they will get purnished rather than sympathetic guidance. It disrupts the bond between you and your child, brews mistrust and suppresses the aura that will allow her/him to be confident and flourish.
  • Be Violent: Spanking may also make your child learn that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems. Studies show that kids who are spanked are more likely to hit and fight with other children. It’s no surprise that in Nigeria, a good number believe that violence is the best way to solve disputes and as we will say ‘treat someone’s f*** up’ (settle a dispute or betrayer). Studies also proved this as it showed that children who are hit are more likely to become violent adults.
  • Spanking can also lead to physical danger, especially if you hit harder than you intended. Sometimes spanking can bruise a child, leave blood blisters, or injure soft tissue. You might hit a child so hard they fall and hit their head against hard concrete or object; some kids have even been hospitalized because of it.

So to spank or not to spank? It is up to you to decide but do not think that because your parents spanked you then it is right to spank your child. Sit and think about your time and how you felt, do you want your children to feel that way especially the distance it created and the unemotional aura built around you. 

Don’t even bring religion into this as spare the rod and spoil a child does not mean you should hit a child with a rod. Think about it, for real, how much knowledge does your developing toddler have that you will punish them for their milestones? see that spanking limits their capacity than builds it?

In a study released in July 2002, a psychologist who analyzed six decades of research on corporal punishment found that it puts children at risk for long-term harm that far outweighs the short-term benefit of on-the-spot obedience. (www.consumer.healthday.com)

In 2018, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), released a policy that spanking is not OK reiterating that corporal punishment increases poor behaviour and is bad for child development.

So next time you want to spank your toddler, think twice and try to reason with her/him instead. Trust me, children learn faster with ‘communication’ than with spanking. It also helps them in their future relationships.