I have been doing a lot of research and information gathering on spanking and the long-term outcomes. I came across, thanks to Annie, this article by Alan E. Kazdin. Dr. Kazdin is a professor at Yale University and was President of the American Psychological Association (2008). There are a lot of interesting points in the article, but the statements that stick out the most to me are related to how parents address science. (Emphasis mine)
Part of the problem is that most of us pay, at best, selective attention to science—and scientists, for their part, have not done a good job of publicizing what they know about corporal punishment. Studies of parents have demonstrated that if they are predisposed not to see a problem in the way they rear their children, then they tend to dismiss any scientific finding suggesting that this presumed nonproblem is, in fact, a problem. In other words, if parents believe that hitting is an effective way to control children's behavior, and especially if that conviction is backed up by a strong moral, religious, or other cultural rationale for corporal punishment, they will confidently throw out any scientific findings that don't comport with their sense of their own experience.
Annie also had this article in Mothering Magazine posted. The article cites research, not just personal experience. Most disturbing to me was (emphasis mine):
According to 57 percent of the 3,000 adults surveyed, children as young as six months old could be spoiled, a fact that has been disputed by many child experts and psychologists.
Another reason for continued spanking is that many adults believe that nonabusive spanking by loving parents is not harmful. While some studies have shown this form of spanking to be less harmful, the act hasn't been proven harmless.
Both articles raised issues in my mind, things that I have worked hard to counter-act in my own home. I try to read reasearch, even when I do not necessarily agree, in order to educate myself and make informed decisions in our home. The other, more notable issue, is that parents continue to set unrealistic expectations for their children. It is as though some want to train their children to fit in neat little boxes when in fact children are unique and need to be taught, not trained, at an appropriate developmental level. The more we ask judgemental questions, the more we encourage these unrealistic expectations. Simple questions that people take for granted in parenting-- Is your baby sleeping through the night yet? is one of the most common.
There are plenty of resources available online and in books that describe average behavior fnd development or various age groups. While these are great for average, each household must look at their own child to see where the child fits on the spectrum. My son is above average in some skills, but others he lags behind. This is normal in my mind (backed by research), so I do not have a problem with it.
The National Network for Child Care (NNCC) page on Toddler Development lists some activities to try (emphasis mine).
1. Take some time to watch toddlers playing. Notice the differences in their physical development: height, weight, how they relate to you and to other children, and their energy levels. Some children seem to never sit still, while others seem happy to sit down with a book.
2. Toddlers learn by exploring and experimenting.
Because I know this is how toddlers learn, I try not to interrupt The Boy from learning unless I need to secure his safety. His maniuplation of objects, desire to "check stuff out," and pesky but expected need to dump things from cup to cup are all a part of his learning style.
Before I end this, let me share a statement from the University of Nevada's Little Lives: A Parent's Guide to Development 25-26 Months --
No matter how good you are as a parent, your child will misbehave.
I know I need to be reminded of this at times. I often times absorb the lows as my own failure, when in fact, The Boy is acting his age, and today's percieved failures will become tomorrow's success.
Additional resources to check out, including a couple of my posts.
Debate over the meaning of "rod" is irrelevent (OUCH! This minister is harsh, but 300 concubines and 700 wives? Wow.)
Special thanks to Annie at PhD in Parenting for sharing the articles that inspired me to finally get my thoughts in to a slightly more organized post.