The Effect Striking Our Children Has on Their Minds

Spanking Decreases Intelligence?

by Danelle Frisbie ©2009

The topic of spanking is not one I have thought much about – after all, most of my research surrounds birth and babies, and who (heaven forbid!) spanks a baby?! But new research suggests there are parents out there who are in the habit of spanking their 2-year-olds — and it may very well be impacting these little ones in detrimental neurological ways.
It makes sense – we know through ample research that the natural parenting techniques as old as humanity itself – such as babywearingand breastfeeding – dramatically increase neuro development and functioning, resulting in higher IQ, among other beneficial things. So it is not too shocking that the antithesis of peaceful parenting — forthright aggression on babies and children — may have just the opposite impact on their rapidly developing brains.

While completing graduate work in clinical psychology, I regularly administered personality inventories and IQ tests on ‘troubled’ children, and was then required to make recommendations per their treatment. Rarely was I afforded the opportunity to look into their home life — or examine more closely how these children were treated by family members or raised by their parent(s). I was required to ‘treat’ the problem, while never fully getting to the root of the cause.

The latest research from the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of New Hampshire claims a discovery has been made into one (small?) component of mental health and human intelligence. The results are intriguing. Murray Straus, who led the last two studies, says that spanking actually decreases IQ, and to a significant degree. Yes, you read that right: Spanking your child impacts intelligence (at least that which we can measure using intelligence tests and methodological quotients).

Straus led two recent studies – one conducted on a national level in the United States, and one on an international level. Parents of 1,500 young American children participating in an IQ research project were asked how often they spanked their children. Responses were compared with IQ results.

Results showed that children (age 2-4) who were not spanked at all had IQs that were, on average, 5 points higher, (and stayed higher for the next 4 years over the course of the study), than children who were spanked. Children to the age of 10 were included in the study and the same trend was found for older children as well. The impact of spanking on IQ, however, was most pronounced in the younger children. I suspect this may be in part because the brain is most rapidly developing (and most significantly impacted) until the age of about 5 years old when it is 98% complete.

[Side note: This is also likely the reason that natural, child-led weaning occurs around the same time – around the age of 5 – in the majority of the world and throughout human history, when breastfeeding-phobic social pressures do not cut it short. The developing brain is supplied with just the right concoction of building blocks via mother’s milk the entire time it is in rapid formation mode.]

Straus’ results are being published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma. In addition, Straus and colleagues are presenting the findings of their second (international) study on spanking and intelligence at a San Diego based conference on abuse and trauma this week.

In the international study, Straus interviewed university students in an examination of corporal punishment and IQ. After conducting research across 32 countries around the world, results showed a lower national IQ in countries where corporal punishment is common.

In the U.S. study various factors (such as parental education level and economic status) were adjusted for. The negative correlation between spanking and IQ held true (the less spanking, the higher the IQ; the more spanking, the lower the IQ). In the international study, parent’s education level and economic status were more difficult to adjust for.

Straus is a long time supporter of peaceful parenting and using multiple proactive strategies for discipline that do not include aggression or violence against babies and children. He has researched extensively on subjects such as aggression, violence, rape, and abuse within families.

These latest findings echo what we have seen in other studies: Peaceful Parenting (or Attachment Parenting) leads to lower stress hormones (such as cortisol) in babies and children, greater trust (in parents/each other/the world), secure attachment, and more complex neurological development and brain activity, among other things.

In the end, it may just be true that babies and children were born to be loved and tenderly, gently cared for – not physically acted upon in any form.

If you would like a pdf copy of these latest studies, message me and I will be happy to pass them along to you.

Mother-Toddler Separation

I am in tears… of validation.  I cannot put into words what reading this article has done to me.  But my smile might be enough, and my tears might communicate the rest.

Yes.

Thank you.

Thank you.

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Mother-Toddler Separation

by Dr. George Wootan, M.D.
Author of Take Charge of Your Child’s Health


I’m going to open up a big can of worms here, one that gets me into as much trouble as my thoughts on weaning: mother-toddler separation. Imagine for a moment, that you are at the grocery store with your six-month-old. She starts making hungry noises, and you look down and say reassuringly, “I’ll feed you in half an hour, as soon as we get home.” Will she smile and wait patiently for you to finish you shopping? Absolutely not! As far as your baby is concerned, either there is food now, or there is no food in the world. Right in the middle of the grocery store, famine has struck!

Babies and toddlers, up to about the age of three, have little concept of time. To them, there are only two times: now and never. Telling a toddler that Mommy will be back in an hour, or at 5:00, is essentially the same thing as telling her that Mommy is gone forever, because she has no idea what those times mean.

Let me submit to you that the need for mother is as strong in a toddler as the need for food, and that there is no substitute for mother. When he’s tired, hurt, or upset, he needs his mother for comfort and security. True, he doesn’t need Mommy all the time, but when he does, he needs her now. If he scrapes his knee, or gets his feelings hurt, he can’t put his need on hold for two hours until Mommy is home, and the babysitter – or even Daddy – just won’t do as well as if Mommy was there.

So, yes, this is what I’m saying: A mother shouldn’t leave her child until about the age of three, when he has developed some concept of time. You’ll know this has begun to happen when he understands what “yesterday,” “tomorrow,” and “this afternoon” mean, and when your child voluntarily begins to spend more time away from you on his own accord.

Of course, if you know that your child always sleeps during certain times, you can leave her briefly with someone while she naps. If you do this, however, the babysitter should be someone she knows well, since there is no guarantee that she won’t choose this day to alter her schedule and wake up while you’re gone. This could be traumatic for her if the person is someone she knows, and doubly so if the babysitter is a stranger. It is important that you make every effort to be available to her when she is awake and may need you.

I realize that not separating a child from his mother for the first three years of life may be difficult. Living up to this presupposes that the family is financially secure without the mother’s paycheck, and, unfortunately, this is not a reality for some people. I would not argue that a mother who must work to support her family is doing less than her best for her children by working. However, I believe that many women return to work not out of necessity, but because they (or their spouses) want to maintain the two-income lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. These parents need to do a little soul-searching about what they really need and not sacrifice their child’s best interests.

If you must leave your child for several hours a day, there are some things you can do to try and compensate for the separation. One of these, of course, is nursing until the child weans himself. Another issharing sleep with your child until he decides he is ready for his own bed. If you have to spend 8 hours away from your child, make an effort to spend the remaining 16 hours of each day in close physical contact. That extra effort will go a long way toward helping him feel secure an develop a healthy attachment with you.

In our family, we have found that many events that would require leaving our baby or toddler at home are the ones that we don’t particularly mind missing. We also have found that because our children have their needs attended to promptly, they are happy and secure, and we are able to take them to most social gatherings. I don’t mean to suggest that you’ll never encounter any problems, but generally, you’ll find that if you take care of your child’s immediate needs by holding him, nursing him, and loving him, he’ll be a pleasure to have around.

George Wootan, M.D. is a board-certified family practitioner and medical associate of La Leche League International. He and his wife, Pat, are the parents of eleven children and the grandparents of twenty-one. Dr. Wootan has practiced medicine for 33 years with a focus on pediatric, family, and geriatric care and chronic illness. He speaks nationally on the subject of children’s health, healthy aging, nutrition, wellness and Functional Medicine.

Becoming Babywise

Not much more that I can say… I haven’t yet forced myself to get through the pages of the Babywise book, but what little I do know of it, I completely disagree with it having an ounce of intelligence.

For much better, baby-friendly alternatives to Babywise please see any of these excellent baby/toddler parenting resource books below.

Remember:  Babies cry to communicate that a NEED has not yet been met – they do NOT cry to manipulate. Their cries are their only form of communication if parents do not recognize and attend to their other non-verbal cues/signals signifying particular needs. Listen to your primal mothering/fathering instincts. Pick up your baby, love him, feed her, snuggle him, wear her, rock him, soothe her – it will all be over in the blink of an eye and you will be so thankful that you peacefully parented your little one while s/he still fit in your arms.

S O U R C E

Quiverfull… Quiverful… Grab a blanket, light a fire, and stop quivering

I can hear responses the already, “This has nothing to do with raising children.”

I believe it does.  I see an integral and deeply woven internal, far and eternally reaching link… and I have never read anyone articulate these thoughts so superbly.

The truth is, not all men are cut out for leadership in the home or church. And for those with controlling, punitive, and demanding tendencies, the practice of patriarchy in the home will only exacerbate their insatiable egos and lend an air of spiritual credence to their tyranny and abuse in the name of “protection” and spiritual covering.

S O U R C E

The truth is, not all men are cut out for leadership in the home or church. And for those with controlling, punitive, and demanding tendencies, the practice of patriarchy in the home will only exacerbate their insatiable egos and lend an air of spiritual credence to their tyranny and abuse in the name of “protection” and spiritual covering.

The truth is, the woman who aspires to be a Proverbs 31 wife is setting herself up for failure. Often I have agonized over the overwhelming burden expressed by wives and mothers who feel they are not meeting the standard ~ they try so hard, and yet ~ there’s not enough of one woman to go around. Even with the help of the older daughters, the workload is ceaseless and the demands on her time and energy are bound to leave her feeling inadequate. Must be her lack of faith. Perhaps what she needs is to read another Vision Forum book or attend an Above Rubies conference wherein she’ll discover the KEY to making it all work, getting it all done.

Seriously ~ what Mothers of Many need is RELIEF ~ not another “revelation” about what truly constitutes the godly wife and mother. Not another pep-talk from Nancy to inspire her to “present her body a living sacrifice.” No more visions and bible verses to load her with guilt when she somehow doesn’t manage to reproduce the Garden of Eden within her godly home.

In the patriarchal world which I will no longer take part of, the Commanding Officers (the men) are forever waging war against the world and the devil. Wives and children are useful as foot soldiers and arrows in this daily battle for the Kingdom of God. Should a mother die in childbirth, she is hailed as a faithful, dedicated woman ~ hers is a martyr’s death. But if she should struggle ~ if she fails to reverence her husband despite his imperfections and failures to love her as Christ loves the church ~ if she should dare complain that she’s tired and overwhelmed ~ if she has a healthy self-preservation factor ~ or should she be a thinking woman who just can’t manage to adorn herself with that highly prized “meek and quiet spirit” ~ then she is a rebellious Jezebel ~ a reproach on the testimony of Christ. Likewise, the children are valued only in as much as they conform to the lifestyle chosen for them by their parents.

And here is where the children and their well being enter the scene…

It seems crazy that thousands of years later, we should be trying to emulate the family structure and gender roles of an ancient society which viewed women and children as property. Truthfully, I’m kind of pissed that I so willingly co-operated in my own oppression for so many years ~ I allowed myself and my children to be used to fulfill an egotistical fantasy of a man who desired to be king of his castle.

Patriarchy is a pretty sweet deal ~ for the man who gets a Proverbs 31 wife and a quiverfull of children like olive branches around his table. In that family set-up, Daddy reigns supreme. I know, I know ~ the teaching is that it’s actually the Lord Jesus whom the wife and children serve when they submit to and obey the father. And when I think about it ~ that’s so twisted! How convenient for the man that all this is clearly spelled out in the Word of God.

I suppose I shall have to expound upon my point and direction here, but first I must finish her article and let it sit for a while.  I hear this woman as if she were inside my head, and I have never once given a moment’s thought to the belief system she struggled in.  Well, not until now, at least.  So, I can’t quite formulate a logical response, mine would be entirely emotionally driven at this moment… give me a few.

Hand Slapping, Exploration, Confidence: An Important Understanding

S O U R C E

SLAPPING HANDS
How tempting it is to slap those daring little hands! Many parents do it without thinking, but consider the consequences. Maria Montessori, one of the earliest opponents of slapping children’s hands, believed that children’s hands are tools for exploring, an extension of the child’s natural curiosity. Slapping them sends a powerful negative message. Sensitive parents we have interviewed all agree that the hands should be off-limits for physical punishment. Research supports this idea. Psychologists studied a group of sixteen fourteen-month-olds playing with their mothers. When one group of toddlers tried to grab a forbidden object, they received a slap on the hand; the other group of toddlers did not receive physical punishment. In follow-up studies of these children seven months later, the punished babies were found to be less skilled at exploring their environment. Better to separate the child from the object or supervise his exploration and leave little hands unhurt.

I love this.  It’s brief, allows one to contemplate (which I am now), and doesn’t condemn or judge.  Bravo!

I know the urge… She’s grabbing it again (insert object of interest) and it either scares you, annoys you, or is in direct violation of whatever you just told her not to touch.  What is your instinct? You know that if you slap her hand, it will sting and therefore she’ll pull her hand away and theoretically stop touching whatever you want her to stop touching.  Gotta love instant gratification.  But if it were my daughter, she’d just touch it the moment I turned my back anyway, so why bother.

Now, the NGJ method would interject here that if I had smacked her hand hard enough, she’d have learned her lesson and would remember well enough to not touch whatever it was again.  This brings two thoughts to mind:  First, violence begets violence. Second, let’s just say the item I don’t want her to touch is my coffee mug.  Ok, so I slap her hand hard enough and frequently enough that she learns she is better off not touching it (because she doesn’t like pain, nor does she like the hit to her self confidence).  So what happens in a few years when I ask her to do the dishes and the only item that never gets tended to by her is my own damn coffee cup.

Hum… now what.  I mean, it’s not like I can say a word about it to her.  I have destroyed her confidence in handling my coffee cup, made it off limits across the board by physically punishing her for touching it, instead of working with her intellect so that she can learn the dangers, and now I want her to chip in and help wash the thing.    See my dilemma?

Expand that to an entire collection of items that we categorically define as off limits for babies and toddlers.  We instill confusion, a lack of confidence, hypocrisy, and an innate sense of “wrong” for things that are completely benign to any human of an age of comprehension.  This makes no sense.  If the child is too young to be educated on what or why not to touch the item, just remove the object from within their reach and possible interest until they are old enough to comprehend!

That said… In our case, as I stated above, my daughter will receive the instruction to not/stop touching something and then the moment I am not looking, she will graze the item with her fingertips in defiance, while quietly watching to see if I notice.  She’s pushing for control here. She’s testing her ability to control herself and her environment. She’s not trying to control me, but she is being defiant.  And you know what, I have noticed a pattern with this defiance.  IF I have instructed her not to touch something without educating her as to why (this includes the education going no further than it being my desire to have her leave something alone, no other logic involved), then the defiance is typically present  to one degree or another.  IF however, I have educated her as to why she should leave something alone and not touch/pick it up/etc., even if that education is simply that the item does not belong to us (but does specifically belong someone else, including me, excluding her) and therefore must only be explored by her eyes, she typically will not bother it.  And if she does, once reminded of why she shouldn’t, she usually dismisses her interest and self corrects.  Yes, she uses her own judgement and chooses to abstain from the temptation, of her own accord. Crazy, huh.

I think I can probably say that I have slapped her tiny little hands a total of a half dozen times in her entire life.  Each and every time it has been out of personal impatience, annoyance, and personal/internal frustration.  Once again, it’s me needing a physical release of a negative emotion caused by the interaction with my daughter and her independent and immature self. Yippee for me, I solved my concern with instant gratification for myself, no education for my daughter, and an example of violence and selfish response for her to ponder and remember.  Well then. I have also demonstrated my own laziness and impatience. I’m doing good.

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Alternately, I can take the responsibility upon myself while she’s too young to comprehend and simply remove items from her reach or where she is even aware of their existence (I do not believe in negatively tempting children). Then,  after she reaches an age that she is able to comprehend reliably, I can instruct and educate her on why and what to abstain from touching or playing with. I can remind her as necessary, and if defiance is the reason for the reminder(s) being necessary, I can employ other techniques to get my point across (like if she won’t leave something of mine alone, I will simply not leave something of hers alone that she wants me to – and/or not allow her to have it until she makes the connection, which usually takes about 2 minutes).  And in the event she simply chooses to ignore and not make the connection, it’s usually bed time or time to change venue/activity and assert gently that she must acknowledge the importance of what I am imparting to her.  These times almost always correlate with fatigue, or fatigue.  Again, my responsibility to remedy and have the wisdom and sensitivity to manage properly.

There is one caveat: In the event that your child is reaching and millimeters away from an object that will severely injure and/or scar them physically or psychologically, and you have no time to react in any other fashion, then and only then would I personally condone the use of a harsh slapping away motion (this is different than a hand slap).  This quick reflex may cause a bit of a sting if it ends up being enough of a snap, but chances are that if it’s necessary it’s because you only have a split second to respond and save your little one’s hand, mind, or other body part.  This is a protective move, not a punishing one.  This sort of response is not out of annoyance but fear and desire to preserve the well being of the child.  I hope I am clear.

A Biblical Perspective, Well Spoken

I came upon this blog today and want to quote a few of her words here, as well as encourage you to visit her entire post, and the continued posting of the same subject.

I believe this Mommy has an exceptional ability to discern and communicate regarding the subject of Bible based arguments for spanking/striking/physically punishing children.  She has a much more eloquent ability to address this side of the issue than I do and I hope you’ll take a moment to review her thoughts.

Is Spanking Biblical? Part 1: Proverbs

Let me begin by saying that each and every one of us parents before the Lord. Read what I say with open ears and a grain of salt, bring it before God, study the Bible for yourself. In this post, I will discuss what my husband and I have learned through our study of the Bible. In later posts, I will discuss other reasons why my husband and I have decided never to use spanking as a tool.

Proverbs 23:1-2 reads: “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you, And put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite.” I would ask you to ask a few questions about these verses:

  1. Is this verse meant to be taken literally? Or are we supposed to gain a tidbit of inferred wisdom from reading it?
  2. Is this how we as Christians are told to deal with sin in our own lives? Are we to hold a knife to our throats, literally or figuratively, when confronted with temptation?  .. . .. .. …

… Let me get a little more technical. The passages in Proverbs that Christians hold to as advocating spanking (Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 23:13,14), are not talking about a young child, but a young man!! The Hebrews used specific words when referring to the different ages of children. I am going to quote from a book by Samuel Martin, who has a BA degree with a special focus on Middle Eastern studies, and who has worked closely with two Hebrew professors in Israel on an excavation trip and a survey trip. That is to say, he has studied Hebrew culture and language extensively.

Here, I would say that hitting a teenager isn’t any better advised than hitting a child, but the point is that if you’ve done your job guiding and building up the child from birth, as a last resort to keeping them from being stoned for their insolence as a teenager or young adult, you could try beating them with a large stick first.  Then, after their bruises heal, if they’re still hell bent on doing whatever it is that the community is against, then it’s the community’s problem. And if they end up stoned to death, I guess that’s that.

So what has been my husband’s and my conclusion? Proverbs was written in the Old Testament. That means that its writer was writing as one under the law, and we need to be careful to read Proverbs with that focus in mind. If you are going to follow the Proverbs explicitly as a believer, you had better hold a knife to your throat, or at least threaten yourself, when you are eating with a ruler! Furthermore, if you are going to follow the book of Proverbs as though it is a book of commands for believers, you had better also follow the other laws in the Old Testament. Let me quote one here for you. Deuteronomy 21:18,19;21a: “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown…Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death…”. When I read this, I wonder if that is perhaps what Solomon meant when he said that if you beat your son with a rod, you will save his soul from Sheol (or death). Perhaps he had in mind a rebellious teenage son (his sons certainly were!), and he was thinking of beating his rebellious sons to keep them from being stoned to death!!      Source

SOURCE
The Shebet is not a small instrument. A shepherd’s staff was a thick, long rod. If you were to literally beat your child with this, on the back (as this is what is literally indicated in the Proverbs), you would likely kill him/her. Recently, a little girl was killed because here parents spanked her with a small switch over and over again. Her internal organs failed, and she died. These were supposed loving, Bible-believing parents! I will post more on this story later. If a small switch can kill a child, imagine what a literal rod could do!!

Exodus 21:20 warns about the use of the rod: “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.This verse is speaking about an adult being smitten with a rod, not a child. And an adult smitten with a literal rod could die!

One more thing I would like to address: Proverbs is a book of Hebrew poetry. This is an important contextual fact to look at when you are interpreting those pesky “rod” verses. If you look at Proverbs as poetry, you will see that the “rod,” or the “shebet,” is a symbol of authority. When the Hebrews read the term “shebet,” they would have had in mind the leader of a tribe, a shepherd’s rod (which, incidentally, was never used to beat the sheep. Sheep are very timid creatures, and will not trust a master who raises his hand against them), a king’s sceptre, or the shaft of a spear. “Shebet” would have meant authority to them.In the New Testament, believing parents are encouraged to nurture, admonish, train, correct their children: clearly, they are to be in authority over them, so this is a New Testament principle as well.

In My Silence

Contemplative Indignation

I spoke with a friend tonight about time outs. Now my wheels are spinning.

I haven’t had a chance to write in a long time due to some personal changes, uprooting, and a general, massive directional modification in (my) life’s path.  That said, I am reminded this evening of the value not only to myself, but the potential value to others, for me to put thoughts to paper – forgive me, but is there a technological synonym, really?   Yeah, didn’t think so.

I am too tired to write much tonight, save the few comments I have already responded to, but I will give you a bit of info on the topics I’ll tackle in the coming days/weeks as the muse inspires and allows. And you all know my muse is a toddler, right!!

Topics to be explored (your feedback, input, data, etc., is always encouraged):

  • Ostracism (Time Outs), Rejection, Humiliation of Children in the Name of Discipline and Punishment
  • Curbing Insolence, or Perhaps Appreciating It
  • Your Child’s Worldview
  • Engaging – Not Just Monitoring Your Child (Anyone see the Incredibles??)
  • Bedtime (No, Not Mine, the Kid’s… Ok, Mine Too)
  • Peaceful Coexistence vs.  Harmony

So, until I can think straight and don’t see little blurs darting in/out of my peripheral vision…

Good night.

Resources: Understanding Ostracism, Timeouts

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/805746/positive-discipline-why-timeouts-dont-work

http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Ostracism

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/04/social.aspx

http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9781572306899

http://www.mothering.com/discussions/archive/index.php/t-922731.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=M0flM4dgpDUC&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12&dq=timeouts+ostracism&source=bl&ots=NNNExUmWFw&sig=CqcXM8QwYW_Em3HQSdQbxsmn_-8&hl=en&ei=Se-OTL6JLYSdlgfovZm0Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

List goes on… I’ll add more as we go.