Should you spank your child?

My wife and I have a 3-month-old. She’s great. We love her. I can’t imagine ever wanting to spank her when she gets older.

Then again, I’m sure she will test my limits. I’m conflicted when it comes to spanking as a form of discipline. I believe spanking is inherently bad in that it shows that you solve problems through violence. At the same time, I think it’s a good way to drive home a point. If the kid doesn’t listen to you, you’ve got major problems, especially as she gets older and more independent.

My wife and I have pretty much decided that we will use spanking when necessary – more as a last resort. I have friends with a 4-year-old who they almost always put in a timeout chair when he’s bad. It seems just as emotionally rough as getting spanked, but I don’t believe the timeout chair instills as much fear – not that I necessarily want my child to fear me, but I think it will come in handy at times.

What do you do with your children? Is spanking a good way to discipline? Should we never spank a child? I really need some good discussion to help me decide how I’ll treat my child (and, eventually, children) when she doesn’t mind her parents.

I believe that spanking is the worst possible way you can punish a child. For one thing, seeing your parents do something teaches a child this is okay, and spanking a kid teaches them that is someone does something that they don’t like, it is okay to hit them. There is also the violence aspect of it. And the fact that ruling by fear is not the best way to do things. I will also tell you that in my family, not of the children were EVER spanked. We were punished through groundings, and being sent to our rooms. We all turned out beatifully. I am not being braggy here either. We are all well behaved and respectful of elders. None of us has ever been in any real trouble. I can also tell you that I HATED being grounded or sent to my room. It was more then enough of a punishment.

There is a definite line between spanking and child abuse. I am totally pro-spanking if it is deemed appropriate. However, anyone who abuses their child with unnecessary physical harm should be thrown in jail.

I have no use for people who believe that you should “talk” to your 5 year old…to let them know in a “nice but firm voice” its “wrong” to light the cat on fire or whatever. Discipline is something sorely lacking nowadays. Tan their behind with a couple of whaps and then the fear of it alone does most of the work.

“Wait until Dad gets home” still makes me a little nervous, even though I am sure he only spanked my less than the number of times I can count on my hand.

I am sure I am going to get flamed for this by some people here, but the nomex is on so fire away!

Depends on the kid.

You can’t mold your child to your disciplinary method; you have to mold your discipline style to your child.

Every child is different. Some kids can be spanked and it works. They are not emotionally scarred by it in the least. I was one of those kids. My parents spanked me all the time (or so it seemed) but I never once questioned their love for me or their right to to whack me on the bottom if I was being disobedient. However, other kids do not react well to this form of punishment. They get very upset or defiant if they are spanked. Some adults will surely check in here to tell stories of how betrayed and outraged they STILL FEEL because they were spanked. Clearly this method wasn’t the best for them because it damaged their relationship with their parents.

So try to avoid spanking if you can. See what works with your daughter. Whatever discipline method you choose, the key is to be CONSISTENT, CLEAR and BE PREPARED TO FOLLOW THROUGH. Don’t make empty threats. And, of course, hugs, kisses and praise are also an integral part of the whole package.

Good luck!

I would never spank any child that i have (though i have yet to have one, or get maried) and if my SO did, i am sure that it would make for one hell of an argument, cause there’d be no way that i’d let ANYONE hit my child

The “Wait until Dad gets home” form of discipline STINKS, IMO. Whichever parent is around to witness the poor behaviour should be the disciplinarian for the deed. Making them “wait” for thier punishment is like a double whammy. Psychologically abusive, IMO.

I think spankings are widely misused and istead of it being done as punishment for the child, it has become an anger outlet for the parent. Frustration hitting. Who’s the intelligent one, then? As adults, are we not intelligent enough to communicate in a non violent way to our children?

But by the same token, I have a brother who has a child who is out of control. He bites, hits, scratches and pinches. Time out never worked. So then what? Hit him and say, “Hitting is not acceptable!”?

What you need to do is be very chosey about when you discipline. Don’t get on your childs case for typical childish behaviour. Keep the stern and disciplinary tones for important times. They will quickly learn when they are in the doghouse then.

By the way, bernse, I DO talk to my 5 year old as he is a human being in need of learning what life is about, after all, 5 years on Earth is nothing. If he were lighting cats on fire, we’d be seeking medical advice, not violent discipline.

I hated being spanked. A lot. But I was a kid and these days I don’t remember being spanked much more than I remember watching Sesame Street every day, so it didn’t scar me for life or anything…and I can think of MANY kids I see that could seriously use some spanking, heh…I’m not all for it though, and I’d avoid using it. And then there’s always the thought, “Hmmm…I know if I light the cat on fire I’ll get a spanking…but I REALLY want to see that cat dance…and I’ve been spanked before, so I know it’s not going to KILL me…” and sometimes the “fun factor” outweighs the pain of punishment, heh…especially as a kid.

I’ve thought about it before and if I ever have a kid (which would be a long long time from now, for it generally requires a girlfriend first) I would try to raise the kid with a lot of respect for others, and a large mutual respect with me. Like to the point where if they do something wrong, I don’t have to slap them around or send them off to their room without supper, but I can tell them that they’ve disappointed me and that would be enough to make them think about it (and of course we’d talk about it and such…I think kids should be treated with respect and not “talked down to”, because that just irritated the hell out of me when I was young…kids aren’t stupid, they just haven’t learned as much and won’t if no one cares about what they say).

Like the scene in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (heh…I should probably go rent more than martial arts flicks so I’d have better examples) where, even as a teenager Bruce is goofing around when his dad wants a serious talk, and his dad just gives him “the glare” and says “SIT.” in a super-serious tone and because of the respect thing, Bruce knows “Okay, he’s serious, I should be listening now”…like using the serious tone only when it’s something major so that it’s not like “oh dad’s mad again…” but “he’s NEVER like this…I’m in trouble now…” I think it’s way more important to have a relationship where it’s like when you’re serious, the kid KNOWS they should be paying attention and listens not because they’re afraid you’ll beat them or sit them in a corner, but because they know you have something to say…and it should go the other way around too (ala listen to your kids).

Anyway, I haven’t had a kid (nor have I had a younger sibling to take care of) so I’m sure my thoughts are way out there and realistically a kid will always be a pain in the ass at some point and decide not to listen to you, in which case I have no idea what I’d do…I guess I’d just try and, from an early age, teach them to respect other people and show them respect (which growing up I found it rare for adults to do)…It’s easy to say “just give them a spanking” but I wouldn’t want to do it to my own kid, even if it was “for their own good”. And if they do end up acting up uncontrollably, I’d have to wing it.

Heh…I’d probably make a horrible parent and my kids would run rampant and walk all over me…agh.

And if you spank your kids, make sure you explain yourself afterward and they KNOW you don’t just take pleasure in beating them…the worst thing in the world is thinking even your own parents don’t care.

  • Tsugumo (the Threadinator (I seem to kill almost every thread I post in, heh…))

Well, as a guy who has an 8 year old daughter, let me give my 2c worth. Yes, I have spanked my daughter on occasion. No, I don’t do it often. I don’t NEED to do it often. My daughter is well aware when a spank is imminent. We use a stages system, and a spank is stage 4. She is WELL aware when she hits level 3, and what comes next. If she persists, and we go level 4, she knows exactly why.

It is also important to state that when I spank, it is 2 firm swats to the bottom, with my bare hand. I have no time for people who use belts, spoons, or whatever, because in my mind that is abusive.

After my daughter has her little cry (usually 5 min. or less), we have a short, non confrontational discussion. We discuss how she made several wrong decisions, and how she could make better ones in the future. This stage is very important, because if there is no follow-up, I believe my daughter may not see how things could have gone differently. It is also important to stay non confrontational at this stage, as the issue has been dealt with, and put behind us.

Using this system, I have noticed that my daughter rarely chooses the same negative course of action again. If this appears like it may occur, all I need to do is say “what is a better choice we discussed for this (or a similar) situation?” She stops, thinks, and trys something different.

All you anti-spankers my disagree, but this system has proven very effective for all of us.

Agreed. This method only works if Dad is the parent that strikes fear in your heart. My father would have just shrugged and said, “Hey, don’t do that again, okay?” My mother, on the other hand, could pinch the paint off a car.

But when you delay punishment like that (“Wait until your father gets home!”) the punishment is less likely to be effective at stopping the bad behaviour. For best results, the reward or punishment should immediately follow the desired or undesired behaviour.

It’s a lot like training a pet. It’s important to reward your dog when he sits when you tell him to, just as it’s pretty pointless to scold your dog for peeing on the carpet an hour after the stain was made.

Whether it be your dog or your kid that you’re disciplining, he or she needs to know what they’re doing wrong, and the best way to communicate that is to reward or punish (in whatever method you prefer) as soon as possible.

Mind you, I’m not saying kids are the same as pets, just that the disciplining principles you use for one can work on the other.

Would I spank my kid? I’d prefer not to, but if I have to, I’ve got no convictions against it.

I like Elkman’s stages system very much.

Cranky Jr is almost two, so this issue is one that comes up about every 3 minutes in my household.

I’m tempted at times, and I can’t say I never will spank in the future. But this is how I think of it: What do I do when something hurts me–like, say, I stupidly decide to use a knife to open a package, but slip and get the knife jammed under my fingernail 1/8 of an inch? Do I immediately think “Oh my, how wrong I was, there’s something I’ll never do again.” No, my first thought is furious rage, I hate that %*?-ing stupid knife, I want to hurl it through the window and go break something. Yes, after I cool down I will probably be sheepish, and I will also resolve to use the scissors next time. But the first reaction is undelible.

Now, what do I expect a child, with even LESS control over his emotions, to do when pain is inflicted upon him? The pain of the swat or the spanking isn’t going to “teach a lesson” or make him sorry or make him respect me. It is going to anger him, make him resent me, make him feel like a victim. Maybe later he’ll cycle through the rational thoughts and say “Yeah, I guess I won’t put my spaghetti-sauce covered hands on the TV screen again.” But I’m not convinced that’ll happen, or carry as much weight in his mind as the furious immediate reaction.

So it’s the knife-in-my-hand theory that helps convince me spanking is not very effective.

It’s really going to depend.

first of all - spanking is not going to work well after a certain point in time. Your child will become clever - “that didn’t hurt, mom” or think “gee, I just have to put up with a swat and then I can do it again.” So you can’t really up the stakes by hurting your child more.

Secondly, a great number (not all, but a lot) of parents find the “last resort” of spanking become the first line of discipline.

Thirdly, in the long run, it does teach the child that you can get what you want if you inflict pain.

I want my children to learn not to do certain things because they are wrong, not because they will get a spanking if they do them.

I’m a parent and I’ve worked as a child and family counselor. I’ve yet to have a kid tell me that they learned anything from spanking - all they remembered was the spanking and being afraid.

BTW - I have three kids, the youngest just turned three and I’ve never spanked any of them. Timeout has worked just fine and now we can use restricting Gameboy privileges on the oldest.

well, for what it’s worth.

Sillyrabbit: I should hope you would talk to your child as a human being, as I take for granted he or she is. I never said not to treat them as human. I suggest you re-read my post if you think I did. As for the cat on fire, that was just something that came into my mind. Replace with anything more sweet but bad that your adorable child may do.

Secondly, for some childern, and I am not insinuating that yours are, “talking” doesn’t do a damn thing. Kids can be pretty smart, and if they don’t mind a “stern talking too” because thats the worst that will happen and they know it, you can be damn sure they will need something else. A tanned butt works very effectively and you usually only have to do it once or twice.

You see these little hell raisers in the grocery store all the time “Chad, please don’t do that” as they proceed to knock over the pickles. Does it again. “I said don’t do that”. Proceeds to ketchup display. "DON’T DO THAT!. Runs away to candy bar aisle and proceeds to do the same thing there.

Sure, TRY to talk to your child first, I cannot argue with that. If it doesn’t work, a little bit of corporal punishment will not harm your childs development and turn him into a mass murderer. Hell, its worked for millenia, it can’t be all wrong.

In retrospect, the problems I probably have with the “talking to” aspect are probably because of bad parenting that went along with it, and not necessarily the method.

Whatever works for you :slight_smile:

All I can say is that it’s perfectly possible to raise a kid without ever laying a hand on him. I think spanking is the quick and easy way out. Choosing not to spank may require a little more time and effort on the part of the parents, but it’s worth it in the long run. My nephew and niece were raised without physical discipline and they both turned into the greatest kids. They get good grades in school, they’re happy, they have well-adjusted social lives, and they’re respectful of authority. Best of all, they have an extremely close relationship with their parents. Right now my niece is sixteen and my nephew is eighteen and neither one of them has shown any signs of rebelling.

I’m not saying that you’ll have perfect little angels if you choose not to spank, but at least you’ll be giving your kids fewer reasons to fear and resent you — feelings that might resurface in later years. There are plenty of other non-violent ways to enforce discipline.

–Caliban

A topic that causes the emotions to fly. In my Psychology 101 class (not my major) many students just lit into the professor when she stated that one should not spank one’s children. One woman’s comment was, “sometimes a kid just needs an ass-whuppin’”. I was saddened by her comment.

I agree with Caliban but would add you won’t have perfect little angels even if you do spank.

I agree with my professor. Don’t do it.

“Discipline” is not a synonym for “punishment”. Discipline means teaching. Sometimes punishment is part of teaching, but substituting punishment for teaching won’t work.

Spanking teaches that getting caught behaving in certain ways will bring punishment. It doesn’t teach the child why that particular behavior is unacceptable, and it doesn’t teach acceptable behavior. It calls attention to the behavior the parent wants to squash, which is guaranteed to increase a child’s fascination with the behavior. It teaches that the parent has authority because s/he is bigger and stronger than the child, and it instills fear, not respect. It puts parent and child on an antagonistic footing. It’s confusing. A parent, while spanking, is modelling behavior that would be unacceptable for the child!

I don’t spank, I never have, I never will. I was spanked. It didn’t ruin my life, but it didn’t teach me anything useful either.

Here’s a story for you.

Ever heard of Astrid Lindgren? She is the author of Pippi Longstocking among other books. She is one of the finest women I have ever heard of and she tells a story of when she was young and her daughter had behaved badly. Astrid was very angry with her daughter and as a punishment, she told the child to go out and get her a birch rod for spanking. (This was back in the 30’s.) The girl left the house crying and came back still crying. “Mom, I couldn’t find a birch rod, but here’s a stone you can throw at me.”

The moral of the story? Ask yourself this, do you really want to hurt your child? And do you want your child to know that you want to hurt him or her? I sure wouldn’t.

I am a member of the last generation who grew up when spanking was still almost universally accepted. My parents didn’t spank me often, usually only for serious offenses. My sisters and their husbands tended to spank more than my parents - there was only one person in the family who didn’t spank his child, and his kid was the biggest troublemaker in the entire family. I lean towards spanking, up to a point. Kids at a certain age just don’t understand or listen when you explain to them why something is wrong.

I don’t think it’s wrong to teach kids that doing certain things will get you hurt - that’s real life for you. If as an adult I hit someone, I’m probably going to get hit back. If I disrespect a cop, there’s a good chance I’m going to get injured in the process of him cuffing me and putting me in the car, and if I go to jail for an extended period of time I’m pretty much guaranteed that I am going to get hurt, repeatedly and badly, even if I am tough enough to win most fights.

The problem is people who spank their kids because they are annoyed or mad at them. My parents would always wait until they were calm before spanking me. They would explain that they were spanking me because I broke rules, not because they were mad at me. I could tell that they did not want to spank me, but had to at times. I have no resentment towards my parents at all, although I did at times as a child - but I also resented being grounded or being sent to my room, though usually for a longer period of time (the whole time I was ‘imprisoned’, instead of the 5 minutes or so after I was spanked).

Child of a two year old here so I know how easy it is to WANT to spank your child - but I never do and I never will. How confusing for my daughter for her to be told “don’t hit” and then have me hit her when she behavior needs correcting. I don’t parent my child through fear either, so there aren’t any threats. She is taught what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior. Meltdowns and tantrums are ignored after making sure she can’t hurt herself.

NO WAY.
What do you think you teach your child,
that violence is okay?
I’m glad we have a law here in Sweden against it.

This was discussed back in August (three pages!)
started by myself:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=35234