Spanking Children as a form of discipline

dragonfire00

Sparrow
I'd like to start a discussion on spanking as a form of punishment. One reason is I'm struggling with my strongwilled toddler (I know this is developmentally appropriate :) ) and the other reason to just open the floor for discussion.

Thoughts for spanking:

- It is preferable to permissive parenting and uninvolved parenting where kids grow up to be entitled

-Oftentimes used as a last resort when other methods don't work

-Bible talks about corporal punishment

"Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them" Prov 13:24

-Many of us were spanked as children and are fine (myself included). It's also been done for thousands of years.

-Many cultures use spanking for children, Black people are more likely than White Americans to spank and Christians more so than non Christians. Asians are the least likely to spank.

Thoughts against spanking

-You want children to know they can come to you, not be afraid of you

-Society views it as "child abuse", this could lead to problems with friends/neighbors/child services down the road

-Old testament is old rules, therefore maybe it's not necessary

-modern scientific research showing it is linked to negative behavior changes in children <linked one article but I've read many before. I always am suspect about the APA though so MAYBE this is a "for" for some of you ;) >

-it's hard for parents to want to do

-my own personal experience- it was not as effective as other methods like "grounding" and natural consequences



I also want to be clear that I'm discussing spanking when done as punishment means with a hand or paddle and the goal is to not leave a permanent mark or bruises.

I really don't want to do it with my children, however I do think discipline is necessary (I can't stand "permissive parenting") and I don't judge other parents who do.
 
Both of my kids have had at least a few swats on the butt for various things, when they were little.

I came from a mostly non-spanking family (my mom spanked a handful of times, bare hand/clothed bottom, my dad never spanked me) and I was skeptical of its effectiveness but not staunchly opposed. My first husband/kids' dad came from a family where he and his siblings would have to go find their own sticks to get spanked with - and he was pro-spanking.

I was willing to try it for certain things within certain parameters (serious/dangerous offenses, bare-hand only, never when angry, etc.), but it was pretty obvious pretty quickly that it was not the most effective way to discipline them. They are reasonable little humans. Talking to them almost always works. They each had their fair share of "time outs" when they were little, but now... I hardly ever have to ground them or take away privileges.

I did eventually have to tell my ex-husband that corporal punishment was off the table. He had anger issues - and I don't care how precisely and calculatedly you deliver the punishment OR how deserved and by-the-book it is; if you're inflicting violence on your child in anger, that is not discipline. If you are not practicing discipline yourself, then you are certainly not carrying out or teaching discipline to your child. Disciplining a child should be a burden on the parent or caregiver - never a release or an indulgence.

If there's one thing I've learned in life though, it's that people are different. Nobody's born a blank slate. My kids are far better behaved than I feel like I can claim any credit for in terms of anything I've actually DONE. It's glaringly obvious that a lot of it is genetic; I couldn't take someone else's child and raise it the same way and expect the same results. So I do not think it outside the realm of possibility that there may be children who respond better to spanking than any of the things that worked well for my kids.

I do think a lot of parents who spank, shouldn't.
 

RWIsrael

Woodpecker
Spanking definitely has its place with some children. Some kids will just ignore your warnings and constantly test you, while making you look the fool in the eyes of strangers, and need a hard stop / immediate consequence to their actions.
I was spanked only 2-3 times in my life, all before I was 6 years old, and all because I wouldn't stop acting out when told to multiple times.
After that all it took was a stern look from my dad and I'd know I'm about to cross a line. Never had to be spanked again and I still get chills when the old man gives that look.

I was also slapped by an adult stranger when mouthing off and running her over with my bike - never did that shit again.
It may sound completely unimaginable for some here, but I grew up in a very small town where everyone knew everyone, lived and worked together so was not seen as too big a deal.
I'm not a big fan of the "community" disciplining unruly children (today I wouldn't let anyone else smack my child), but I definitely deserved that one.
 
Here is my anecdotal report:

I was spanked a handful of times growing up. Was not a bad kid or a troublemaker; loved and got along with my parents. I can vividly remember that each time I got spanked (except one) I was fully aware of the consequences and decided to push ahead anyway.

My Dad would do it. Then he would let me cry it out for a bit. Then he would come back in my room and ask me if I knew why that happened, and also "do you know that I love you?". We'd basically always end it on good terms.

Once I got older, and too strong to be held down / care about spanking, he switched to simply talking. "You know, you really let me down." That stung way more than any swat on the ass ever could.

We remain best friends to this day.

My conclusion is that corporal punishment, when divorced from emotion and dealt as a strict and predictable reaction, is very healthy.
 

guccigirl7

Pigeon
My mother used to thump me in the lip for mouthing off, and while I'm certainly not suggesting that, It did make me think twice about mouthing off within ear shot. I was spanked/hit when they'd drank too much, and I swore I'd never do it to my kids. Also, I never wanted them to see me drunk as a parent. Both excellent decisions I made, no regrets on either. I did alot of the 'time out', and when my sons would fight, I would make them sit and hold hands until they could get along with each other. They'd usually be laughing with each other and back to best buds within 10 minutes. We laugh about it now..but looking back, the holding hands did work. Granted, they weren't inundated with sexual confusing messaging 24/7 like the kids are now if they have access to TV/Internet
 
I believe in spanking as one of MANY tools in a parent's toolbox. It can be used with toddlers as a life-saving mechanism (if you run into the street, you're getting hurt... I'd rather it be from a spanking than from a car.) With older children, it can be used in certain circumstances that call for it (when a child is otherwise not listening).

The first time I spanked one of my children was when my eldest was about 18 months old. She had found a AA battery and was about to put it in her mouth. I gave her a quick swat and said firmly, "No eat battery!" A week or two later, she came upon another battery. She looked at it, looked at me, and said very solemnly, "No eat battery."

We didn't spank any of the kids often or as a first resort, and we never, ever crossed the line into leaving any kind of mark. We also transitioned out of it when the kids reached a certain age... 5-6 years old or so on average.

Both my husband and I were spanked and neither of us hold any kind of resesntment toward our parents.
 

muhtea

Sparrow
I really don't like the meted out "now son, you did something bad and now you must be punished" often not as composed as it seems (repressed anger) type thing. I find that creepy and weird. I think a swat when you're frustrated is way more understandable and easier to forgive than weird spanking sessions after the moment has passed.

I don't like it as a form of discipline. Aside from instances where the child is in danger and it's the fastest way to circumvent the danger, which I don't really even consider "spanking" as such, I don't think it's very effective.

Time outs facing the wall where there are as few distractions as possible - where the timing starts once the kid is quiet and will start over if he/she starts up again or turns around - are quite effective in my experience. It teaches them to quiet themselves and that they can take a "time out" when they need one if you also explain this to them when they are clam and feel better - i.e. it's a helpful tool rather than a punishment. Self-discipline rather than fear of punishment.

Spanking is mere punishment and teaches little to nothing of value.

As for the rod, the (good) shepherd doesn't hit the sheep with it, he guides them. I think that scripture has been perverted by some people who seem to have no empathy or creativity in dealing with things.
 

EndlessGravity

Kingfisher
My wife and I have always played "good cop, bad cop," which worked well. She would use other methods and be the primary disciplinarian on a day to day basis but would punt to me if things escalated. I would then use a more no-nonsense approach which might involve spanking if things escalated further but also could be removing the child to their room to be alone until they could tell us they had calmed down...although, it typically didn't get to that point because our children quickly learned it wasn't a game with me.

Toddlers (and most children, imho) act out when they want to connect with you or don't understand what's happening. They sometimes enjoy the negative attention and the power it brings, especially if they learn you'll only take it so far (which is actually and partially why the "good cop, bad cop" thing works). For this reason I suggest learning to recognize when this is happening and find alternative ways to deal with it, such as de-escalation techniques like repeating back to the child what they want but as a question to get rational dialogue going; or giving them two or three choices to the problem but all of which lead back to where you need them to be but which make them feel like they're part of the process and heard.

We also used a "stop light" reward system (green, yellow, red). Our children always had to earn things...and I mean everything. If they were on green at the end of the day, we let the choose from a surprise box when they were much younger. We always stocked it with those cheap things kids love like coloring books, bubbles, "coupons" for special family events, etc. Adding new things regularly was a treat for them to look forward to, which was very positive. If our children wanted to go somewhere on a Saturday, they had better be on green or get to green by doing special things for us or it was a no go. This made our relationship about them respecting and pleasing us as parents plus positive interactions.
 
I'd like to start a discussion on spanking as a form of punishment. One reason is I'm struggling with my strongwilled toddler (I know this is developmentally appropriate :) ) and the other reason to just open the floor for discussion.

Thoughts for spanking:

- It is preferable to permissive parenting and uninvolved parenting where kids grow up to be entitled

-Oftentimes used as a last resort when other methods don't work

-Bible talks about corporal punishment

"Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them" Prov 13:24

-Many of us were spanked as children and are fine (myself included). It's also been done for thousands of years.

-Many cultures use spanking for children, Black people are more likely than White Americans to spank and Christians more so than non Christians. Asians are the least likely to spank.

Thoughts against spanking

-You want children to know they can come to you, not be afraid of you

-Society views it as "child abuse", this could lead to problems with friends/neighbors/child services down the road

-Old testament is old rules, therefore maybe it's not necessary

-modern scientific research showing it is linked to negative behavior changes in children <linked one article but I've read many before. I always am suspect about the APA though so MAYBE this is a "for" for some of you ;) >

-it's hard for parents to want to do

-my own personal experience- it was not as effective as other methods like "grounding" and natural consequences



I also want to be clear that I'm discussing spanking when done as punishment means with a hand or paddle and the goal is to not leave a permanent mark or bruises.

I really don't want to do it with my children, however I do think discipline is necessary (I can't stand "permissive parenting") and I don't judge other parents who do.
My personal opinion is that if a parent hits their kid, they can't ask why they don't like them.
The better way of discipline is to deny some sort of privilege such as doing doing time out.
 

C-Note

Ostrich
Gold Member
My parents spanked me and I resented it and still do. I don't think it was necessary or helpful. With my own kids I used time outs or loss of privileges and they were 100% effective. Sometimes I had to use physical force on them to get them to comply with the timeout when they were small, which involved me sitting down and holding them tight in my lap to keep them there and that was the extent of it. No physical pain was purposely inflicted on them which is what spanking does. I believe with most kids boredom, which is what timeouts and restrictions impose, is almost equivalent to physical pain.

I've heard some people, who say they were spanked as kids, say that timeouts wouldn't have worked on them. Perhaps that is true, but that isn't my experience with my kids.
 
My parents spanked me and I resented it and still do. I don't think it was necessary or helpful. With my own kids I used time outs or loss of privileges and they were 100% effective. Sometimes I had to use physical force on them to get them to comply with the timeout when they were small, which involved me sitting down and holding them tight in my lap to keep them there and that was the extent of it. No physical pain was purposely inflicted on them which is what spanking does. I believe with most kids boredom, which is what timeouts and restrictions impose, is almost equivalent to physical pain.

I've heard some people, who say they were spanked as kids, say that timeouts wouldn't have worked on them. Perhaps that is true, but that isn't my experience with my kids.
I think time-outs would of been more effective for me too.
 

Mrs.DanielH

Sparrow
My parents never spanked me. My mom's form of discipline included a short time-out and a discussion about what we did and why it was wrong. My dad's approach was to lecture us about what we should have done, but it always came off as a judgement of who we were instead of what we did. Obviously my mom's approach fostered a better relationship with her.
My one aunt and uncle used the belt on my cousins. It was ineffective because it wasn't followed up with a discussion about why they should have acted differently. As a result, my cousins didn't develop a moral compass and were easily led by peers into various forms of degeneracy. I'm not shocked that they ended up the way they did based on their parents poor discipline practices.
 

Elipe

Kingfisher
I think the main issue with spanking is that people tend to be binary thinkers, so they either think in terms of just hitting your kids and then leaving it at that, or not hitting your kids at all. I think that given the Biblical advice to not spare the rod, it's clear that spanking serves a purpose, but it should be done as a last resort and in a way that allows the child to understand why it happened. That means having a sit-down with the child and talk to them about it, and letting them know you still love them. There are two things a child should learn from spanking: first, the concept of escalation and second, the concept that you don't mess around with Daddy when he's had enough.

The whole point of corporeal punishment should be to make the child not need it anymore. If you're hitting your kid again and again and again, you're doing something wrong. The point is that the spanking should teach them that when Daddy gives them that stern look, he's serious. If the stern look starts doing the job, then spanking has done its job.
 
"Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them" Prov 13:24

I think people are reading WAY too much into this passage. Here Proverbs is saying that sparing your children from any form of punishment is hatred, while at the same time, warning parents to be careful when discipling them ('to' is a very confusing).

Colossians 3:21 instructs Fathers to not provoke their children, so they will not become discouraged. Reflecting on my relationship with my parents growing up, it was simply a not-perfect childhood, from my father who came from nine kids, raised by parents who couldn't always be involved in his life. My mom had it worse. My mom was physically abused as a child/teen, if there was even a minor infraction. I don't know too much, because she doesn't talk about it. Both of my parents are extremely religious.

Both my older brother and myself were spanked as kids. Most of the time it was for lying about things I can't remember. When you're 3-4 years old, you don't really have the ability to think critically. I would argue that remains true, throughout teenage years. The only real memory I have as a young kid, was running away from my father to avoid being spanked. I hid under my bed, and he grabbed me and then spanked me. As the years passed and I became a teenager, the pain of spanking was replaced with the pain of being yelled at loudly, it was mostly my father, but sometimes my mom.

My two other sisters never had that problem, and have a better relationship with my parents than my brother and I do.

As I tell my friends, I love my parents, but I don't trust them. There is a distance between myself and my father that will always be there, because of the trauma physical punishment brings. It's worse with my older brother. He wont' speak to my father or mom, rarely - if at all. Because of those things, I've struggled to develop my own self-worth and have caught myself many times doubting myself. At one point, I didn't want to date, because I did not want to have children, after experiencing the poor decisions of my parents.

Thankfully, God has brought me back from that proverbial cliff.

Children are difficult. They cannot reason like adults. They are humanity's purest form of innocence. They don't know the hurt, telling a lie brings. They don't know the importance of keeping things off the floor in the kitchen, to keep healthy and clean. They don't know these things, yet adults expect them to and it's unfair from a developmental point of view.

I'm 100% against physical discipline. It distanced me emotionally from my father and made me (for a time) believe only strength is the way to be valued/solve problems in relationships. That's not healthy.

I can only say this to parents: your job for 18 years is to try raising a good human being. Children choose whether they will or won't be that. If you think physically hitting another human being imparts morality, you are deadly wrong and should correct your course. Live by your actions and your kids will pick up on that, despite how many times they say they won't.
 
My dad spanked me once when I was a child; something to do with too close to the street and not listening (we lived on a cul de sac for Pete's sakes). I was very young and it left an impression (no pun intended) on my mind. I do not remember the spank hurting it was more of the feeling I felt. Perhaps a feeling of humiliation.

When our child was young I would joke and spank the bum. Sometimes I would spank hard and I would get a laugh from our child. Now there were times when I had to use my "mom tone" with the dagger eyes to bluff that I would spank, but I never did or will because it feels wrong to spank when angry.

One approach I use prior to having to discipline, that our child does not like, is to whisper in our child's ear what needs to be done and if not done then what the next steps would be in serious tone - it works 99% of the time.
 

C-Note

Ostrich
Gold Member
The "sparing the rod" phrase in the Bible is likely intended as a metaphor. It's not a commandment from God to inflict physical pain on your kids when they misbehave.

The "rod" is discipline in whatever form is most effective. It could be that for some children, physical pain is the most effective technique at correcting their behavior. My personal opinion is that there are very few children for which this is the best approach. As I said above, the way children's minds work, boredom is almost equivalent to them as physical pain.

Of course, there is more to it than that. The punishment (corrective action) needs to be as immediately after the action as possible, so that they're not confused as to what they're being punished for. The punishment needs to be consistent, administered the same from both parents, and not be disproportionate to the gravity of the offense. As a parent, you'll constantly be monitoring the behavior of your child after you impose punishment, so you can adjust your disciplinary process as needed.

For example, my wife and I once refused my son from participating in intramural soccer one year after he kicked his sister in anger. He was about eight years old if I remember correctly. He lived for soccer and had participated in it for several years in a row. He never hit or kicked his sister again. However, my wife told me a few months later that she thought that punishment was a little too severe, even though it had been her idea to do so at the time. I agreed with her and after that we tried to reduce the severity of punishments and only increase them if they didn't work. We never had to increase them, because they always worked after that.

You will make some mistakes because you're learning as you go.
 

infowarrior1

Hummingbird
An alternative to spanking for some behaviors:

Imitating the child when she/he was acting this way helped them to see what they looked like to their parents and the behavior immediately stopped.

There is also a difference between 2 Father's anecdotally in regards to Disciplining children. One involved corporal. And the other involved the silent treatment:

Two friends, well known to me, were talking about paternal discipline a few years back. To protect their identities and remember recently deceased, I will call them Gary and Whitney.

I have known Gary since childhood. He married Whitney a number of years ago, and I know her for over 20 years now. Gary and I happened once to talk about a friend of ours who I will call Martin, for his middle name. Gary was wistful when he talked about Martin; he recalled once being there when Martin’s father was due to arrive home. The excitement was palpable, with both Martin and his sister excited at the prospect that their father would soon return.

Martin’s father was a man with rheumy eyes and a faint whiff of alcohol about him always. He did not strike me as a very authoritative figure, but his children hung on his every word and obeyed his commands. They seemed to fear to displease him. Gary noted this and mentioned how he and his siblings never had the same reaction: their father’s return left them either indifferent, or sometimes fearful. Older then, Gary realized that his father
had never had the joyful experience for any man of seeing a bright-eyed child run to greet him upon his return home; he now valued even more highly what his father had had to go through to provide for his wife and family.

At this point Whitney chimed in. She wondered why Gary had mentioned being fearful. She, like Martin, was used to waiting in the front window with her sister, looking for any sign that her father was coming home so
they could each be the first to spot him and run to greet him. She could not imagine that sort of fearful relationship with her own father.

She asked about methods of discipline in our homes. Neither Gary nor I could recall Martin’s mentioning corporal punishment at his home, but both of us recalled the commanding tone in his father’s voice: when he spoke, we, too, obeyed. Gary and I were both spanked or beaten, I with a belt, Gary recalling that his father once used a large wooden kitchen spoon of his mother’s (that Gary then said he had thrown away and lied about having done so to his father) and one time beat his brother with a piece of wooden flooring; but generally, he used a belt.

Whitney mentioned that her father hit her or her sister only once, and never did so again. No, she said, if you disobeyed her father, you got the silent treatment. He would not talk to her or acknowledge her presence until she had apologized; he sometimes took this to the level of not acknowledging an apology unless delivered through his wife, as he would pretend he could not hear the penitent child.

Gary and I were aghast. We much preferred our own forms of discipline; Whitney agreed. It was much harder to deal with her father’s method of discipline; disobedience meant that you were a non-person in his eyes. She hated it.

And yet, Whitney revered her father. He died when she was only a young woman, a death that shocked the
hundreds of people who attended his funeral (this was years before Gary married her and before I met her, so I report her perceptions, not my own observations.) Gary told me once that she and her sister and mother were
“enthralled” by him. Years after her husband died, Whitney’s mother died. Gary told me that the number of people who showed up to give respects to a man long dead by showing for the funeral of his wife overwhelmed him; he felt the power of God and the dead man’s presence, welcoming his wife whose spirit he was too long separated from.

The Father who seems more effective was the one who just didn't even acknowledge the existence of his children if she was disobedient until she has personally apologized or got her apology relayed through his wife. His children still ended up revering him. Because he will not acknowledge their existence until they has learned their lesson and internalized what they did wrong.

This helps train self-control. And he also likewise showed what self-control looked like through his actions.

The Father who used corporal punishment and didn't have self-control did not do it so well and his children didn't hold him in awe.
 
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Imitating the child when she/he was acting this way helped them to see what they looked like to their parents and the behavior immediately stopped.
more effective was the one who just didn't even acknowledge the existence of his children if she was disobedient
Reading this made me realize I've done both of these as well!

Straight-up MOCKING a child who is beginning to cry or throw a tantrum for an unwarranted reason is INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVE. I can hardly believe I forgot about that method. I never read about it before doing it, it was just instinctive. Once you reach the point where you can immediately identify the "fake cry," you can sometimes pull one over on them by starting your fake cry FIRST, while they're still in the process of dramatically screwing up their face for effect.

I got literal high-fives from little old ladies in grocery stores for completely ignoring my boys when they were throwing tantrums in the shopping cart because they wanted things or because they didn't like being in the store. I've seen a lot of parents who will either cave and buy some stupid little thing for their kid every time they go shopping -- or on the other end of the spectrum, parents who will abandon their cart and leave without finishing their shopping trip (so as not to inflict crying children on other shoppers). BOTH of those choices effectively give all of the power over to the misbehaving child, to change the course and outcome of the situation. BAD IDEA. Ignore ignore ignore. Pretend they're not there. Pretend they don't exist. Pretend you can't hear them or see them (unless they do something stupid like trying to fling themselves out of the shopping cart, then I recommend catching them).
 

FrancisK

Woodpecker
Gold Member
I didn't read through the thread my apologies for that but spanking a child to let them know that there is consequence to their actions and using that as trigger for them to realize in their minds that they shouldn't do bad things works just fine, I was definitely raised like that as most kids I know were, I'm in my mid 30's.

The last time my dad had to go at me was probably in middle school or late elementary and I definitely deserved it! I was getting older and started to get into real trouble instead of just dumb kid stuff, him slapping me around didn't really hurt and I could have fought back but it wasn't the actual hitting me that hurt it was that my father had to do that to me and I was ashamed for it. I was a better kid for it, when you were a kid and your parents spanked you it wasn't the pain that made you cry it was being punished by your beloved parents that made you cry.....

I don't think I need to say it but spanking a child to simply inflict pain as punishment doesn't work, I think it would hurt a kids development and I've seen that first hand. A few relatives I had where their mom had to beat the shit out of them as toddlers turned out to be some really bad kids and the girl relative I had whose mother slapped her around like crazy as a kid turned into a family disgrace whore, I watched them grow up and it was obvious that their parents method of discipline didn't actual work and when they got old enough where the spanking didn't matter or couldn't be done anymore it was like the floodgates opened for their bad behavior.
 
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