Today is national Spank Out Day a day to give widespread attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior.
In honor, I’d like to share a story by Astrid Lindgren author of the Pipi Longstockings books. She received the German Trade Book Peace Prize in 1978 and in her acceptance speech she shared;
“When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first of his life. And she told him that he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”
All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because violence begins in the nursery–one can raise children into violence.”
The idea that some violence is ok and other types is not makes no sense to a child and if we look really deep in our hearts we know that it makes no logical sense to us either. Gentle Discipline isn’t always easy, because it is so against the norm in our culture, but it works better. I works better for a peaceful world, a healthy child, and a healthy parent/child relationship. Give peace a chance starting with your kids. You are all they’ll learn about violence – let it be that it is never ok.