A poll done by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital found parents use a number of strategies in helping children learn appropriate behavior with approximately 90% choosing to talk with as opposed to spanking them if they misbehave.
Around 1,532 parents from across the U.S. were given hypothetical situations where they might have to discipline children. The parents were asked to indicate from several choices given how likely they were to use a certain type of discipline. These strategies included physical discipline as well as verbal discussions.
The types of verbal discussions included the following:
* Explain or reason with the child – 88 percent
* Take away a privilege or something the child enjoys – 70 percent
* Put child in a time a out or grounding – 59 percent
Around 22 percent of parents report they are likely to spank at times, with regional differences found in parents response. Those parents in the West (31 percent) and the South (20 percent) are more likely to spank children than parents either in the Midwest (16 percent) and Northeast (6 percent)
But it isn't just regional differences involved in how parents discipline children. African Americans are more apt to use corporal punishment to teach children not to misbehave.
Ophelia Dumars is the mother of the well-known basketball player, Joe Dumars. She says, "I believe when a child isn't behaving, he should be spanked and hard. That way the child doesn't forget. I raised my children that way, and they all turned out good."
"How about talking with the child?" Dumars was asked.
Dumars explained, "That might work for some people. But I think sometimes a good spanking will do the trick. It used to be people in black neighborhoods would look out for each other's kids, and even spank them. These days that doesn't happen, so parents have to take control and responsibility."
Dumars statements are in line with a number of African Americans, according to Focus on the Black Family.
Should Black Parents Spank Their Children? Steve White
asks in an article last month on just this subject. He writes that black families always talk about the good old days when black children were out of control and whole neighborhoods would help in the discipline, that included spankings, whippings, and beatings.
White suggests integration totally destroyed many black communities and this was the catalyst for kids getting out of control. He goes on to say black neighborhoods used to be like self-contained villages with a culture that was passed on to the children and included:
* A strong work ethic
* Respect for self and others
* A high regard for education
* A strong relationship with God
* An intact family unit
* The extended family
* A common language
* Common foods
* A strong sense of right and wrong
* A strong support system
These are the same issues Dumars points to when talking about the breakdown of communication and discipline. "People didn't plan before integration happened. It just happened, and that didn't mean other people had the same interest in your child the neighborhood had before. So parents had to take care of the problem themselves. But some of them didn't, and that's how things get out of control. A good whipping, however, can turn a kid around."
Given these differences regionally and culturally about how children discipline, researchers have some thoughts on why some parents spank and other parents simply speak to their children. Matthew Davis, M.D. M.A.P.P., associate professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases in the CHEAR Unit at the U-M Medical School explains, “These regional differences are a reminder that parents’ choices of discipline are rooted in strong cultural traditions,” Davis says. “Even as national trends have shifted away from physical to verbal discipline, there are likely community cues and informal networks of parents and grandparents that influence how parents discipline their kids. These inter-generational factors can affect how discipline strategies change over time.”
Davis goes on to say, "While physical discipline is an option for some parents, the majority of parents are opting for verbal ways to get their points across."
The researchers conclude
by observing the value of talk vs physical punishment by adding, "Especially in light of recent research that points out how spanking can have negative affects on children, it’s important to know that spanking and paddling are not the national norm among parents today."