Spare the Rod.pdf

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Author Information: Andre Larocque is a district level behavioral specialist consultant with a narrowed study in Oppositional defiance disorder, conduct disorder and Antisocial personality disorder. In addition to his education in psychology he has 8 years direct experience working in residential treatment. ----Spare the rod, Spoil the Child: A Behavioral Primer for the Non-spanker. By Andre Larocque Edited by: Evita Sandoval History of a Limit Tester All these discussions about spanking usually start with“Spanking worked for me.” In all fairness it worked for me as well. I remember being a young, quiet boy in Vermont who enjoyed the woods and building forts. I wasn't always a well behaved behaviorist however. I was a young aggressive researcher who enjoyed finding his limits with adults. I remember one aunt in particular being brave enough to babysit me at the time. I took the opportunity while she fell asleep watching soap operas to slap her as hard as I could before running outside to climb my families fir tree. At this point it was appropriate for me to internalize several existential questions. Rightly so, as she stood seething at the bottom of the tree she was correct to remind me, I would eventually have to come down and she had a long memory. Most adults do, and lets be fair now I was a child asking for a limit to be set. Spanking as a Tool In the above example most people are quick to point out serious behaviors demand serious consequences, and we would be doing a disservice to our kids by demonstrating otherwise. Such an assertion would be completely correct. I got paddled when I came down from our families fir tree and most would argue my consequence was earned. Kids are incredibly smart. Anyone who has spent time with children knows they are a sponge for positive and negative experiences. So where does spanking fit in all this? Throughout my studies in college spanking was discussed at length. Corporal Punishment is a hot button issue in psychology. Behaviorists at the time were still catching flak for incorrectly addressing “expectations” and the role expectations play in behavioral outcomes. A good example of this criticism can be seen through spanking. When a child limit tests and they are spanked, ideally the target behavior shapes to be lower in frequency, intensity, or both. Parents understand this concept but often not in the same behavioral context. Target behaviors do shape through spanking. However, there is a dark secret in all this. The behavior only appears to shape when the spanker/enforcer is around to implement the expectation and its subsequent behavioral consequence. The authority in this case chose to buy obedience at the cost of resentment. When the authority chose to spank, behind closed doors the behavior was made worse, having been built upon resentment towards the spanking authority. The spanker doesn't know that. The babysitter, school, neighbors and police however do see that behavior that was supposedly shaped to be lower. These are the same kids that say their pleases and thank you's but then decide to pepper spray their neighbors toilet paper when no one is around. Behaviorists for the most part agree that there are very unintended negative outcomes for corporal punishment being shown in the long term for kids.


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