I have been following a Facebook page called Nonviolent Parenting, and I am loving what they have to say.
I was hit occasionally as a child by people who were reacting in anger, and I recall being so confused as to why they hit me that I never really got the "message" they were trying to tell me. I could not connect what had happened to what was happening now, let alone understand and reason what I had done to cause them to hit me. So any form of corporal punishment from what I have seen and experienced is offensive and disturbing to a child, but not informative.
Take this video for example:
It indicates that violent means of "correcting" a behavior rears the opposite of the desired result most (if not all) of the time. So, why do people hit their children? There are plenty of excuses, but if you really stop and think about it, non of them can be carried for very long in an argument. Unless you do what many severely blocked and conditioned people do, which is repeat exactly the same thing over and over until the other person walks away, but if you're to behave that way, learning a new way to function is probably not something you're very interested in. Take "I was hit as a kid, and I turned out just fine!" Well, do you think that you learned positive behavior from being hit? Did you understand why your parents, who you depend on for love, acceptance, sustenance, and safety, were striking your physical body? Did you enjoy being struck? Do you want to pass on those experiences to your child, who may eventually grow to be an adult, who may have an impact on the world and may raise their own children, having then to decide if they do or do not want to pass on the way you raised them to their child?
I know that the way my parents responded to me and the feeling I got from the way they behaved impacted how I interacted and still interact with other people.
I remember angering my friend, then, wanting to comfort her, I did what my parents would do for me when I was distressed, and I hugged her, which bothered her even more. In response to that, I hugged her again, which made things worse. I felt terrible because I could not comfort my friend in any way that I knew of because when I was upset, I knew that having a hug was the best thing anyone could do to make me feel better, and when that didn't work on her, I was at a loss.
When another child was behaving in a way I didn't like, I verbally insulted them; I tried to make them feel like they were not as good as me, and sometimes physically hurt them. That was the only way I knew how to deal with other people who were not doing something I liked. No one taught me how to talk through conflict in a positive, productive manner. My family when they got upset tended not to stop, walk away, and then come back later to calmly talk about things with minds clear of anger and frustration. Instead, they screamed and yelled and insulted each other right in the heat of anger.
From what I remember, when I was four years old, I walked past my brother while humming a song, I believe it was "Hit me Baby" by Brittany S. He picked me up and threw me into an open-faced box fan. I am making an assumption that he didn't like the song and wanted me to stop, and that is why he hurt me, but time twists memories and he may not even remember this at all now.
I am by no means saying that anyone in my family really physically abused me, I don't remember even having bruises, but still I do not like the way they reacted to me or to others.
Whenever I felt like I did something wrong when I was little, and there was no one around to punish me, I would punish myself. If I accidentally hurt the cat, I would take the cat's paw and scratch myself with its claws. If I knocked something over and broke it, I would bite my arm and scratch myself as hard as I could with my nails or other objects until I felt as though justice was served.
Now, I am battling with urges to cut myself in reaction to stress. It sounds like to me that this current behavior links back to me being physically punished by myself or others as a child. Just a hunch. So, why take the risk? Why increase a child's likelihood of growing up bullying others, hurting themselves, beating their spouses, hitting their children, lowering their IQ and so fourth when there are other options out there like creating a healthy, calm place where when you are having a conflict you can stop, and let the tides of fierce emotion dissipate? It takes time to let anger, fear, sadness and all other emotion drain from your glands. Emotion hits the body and mind hard because it is not just spiritual and energetic, it IS physical! It is chemicals rushing through your brain and body.
Then, when you come back it is easier to think about what you're going to say before you say it. Communicate YOUR feelings, don't tell the other person (children are people too) that they are doing things wrong and it's their fault. Tell them how, when they bite you, or don't wash the dishes, or run away when you call them, makes YOU feel.
They will understand and learn from these positive behaviors that I have listed above much more easily than they would from being yelled at, accused, threatened, and/or hit.
This information is relevant to the way one could interact with infants, children, adolescents, young adults, adults, middle aged, and all the way up to seniors. And if you think that talking to an infant or child is preposterous, then I ask you: How can one learn, what one has never been taught? Talk to your kids, do what you can for them, help them work through conflicts, and they will learn to do the same for you and for others in life.
"Spanking is just hitting."