To Spank or Not To Spank...

A friend of mine had cause to ask about this. Her sister-in-law lost custody of her three kids, and my friend and her husband were getting custody. The kids, then and there, said if she tried to spank them like she did her own kids, they’d call CPS and have her arrested. She asked the CPS rep right in front of them if spanking was okay and was told yes, but chastising a child should not leave bruising or welts. She and the rep turned to the little troublemakers: “Any questions?”

Every kid responds to different things. My daughter is destroyed when she understands that I am upset with her. That’s way worse than any spanking could do, so consequently, I don’t use corporal punishment on her.

But, it is a backup in case it’s needed, and it should be.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to actually make the experience painful for the child however like the OP said, a spank in the ass isn’t, in my opinion, anything to go crazy over.

I don’t think it ultimately matters much one way or the other. Set rules that you both can understand, be consistent, pay attention to your kid and take an interest in what he or she is doing,and don’t use your kid as an emotional sponge, and the kid will probably be ok, whether you spank or ground or whatever.

Your first sentence has nothing to do with your second.

Spanking is always a failure because it’s never uniquely called for. There’s always alternative methods of discipline that are as effective, and as you agree above, the method of punishment is far less important than the consistency with which boundaries are enforced. My niece and nephew are treasures: smart, vibrant kids who sometimes need to be disciplined but are in general extremely respectful and well behaved. Spanking has never been used on them; consistent discipline has always been used.

Spanking is sometimes a convenient method of disciplining a child. Don’t mistake convenience for efficacy.

Taking away privileges, for one. Grounding them. Witholding rewards. Extra chores.

Kids can shriek all they want about reporting their parents to CPS. Doesn’t mean it’s an effective threat, and if the parent is acting like it is, that’s laziness on their part, not CPS being over zealous in spanking prevention. The idea that CPS is somehow preventing parents from properly disciplining their kids is a myth.

If your child is properly fed, clothed, and housed and there aren’t signs of abuse the kid can call CPS all day long and it won’t matter a bit. CPS deals with really horrible shit, kids that have been beaten until their bones break, left without food for days at a time, etc. Seeing a kid that is pissed off they got punished is just going to end up with a conversation about calling in false abuse reports and what kind of trouble that can get you in if you aren’t careful.

I agree that consistency of punishment is more important than the method, but I don’t agree that alternative forms of punishment are always going to be just as effective. And I disagree with spanking being used as a convenient form of punishment. I have repeatedly said that spanking should only be used as an option when all other options have had no effect in curbing a particular behavior.

As far as my first sentence having nothing to do with the second, it’s one if the questions I asked in raising this debate. I don’t know if a decline in spanking is a factor in kids being so bratty and disrespectful, but I do think that a lack of consequence and real punishment in general has contributed to this generation of spoiled and egocentric kids.

I was talking with someone else, someone who hasn’t had kids and hasn’t had to deal with the all too often situation of their toddler melting down in the grocery store for any number of reasons, or their 6 year old throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get a new toy. This person said she would discipline her future children by talking calmly and rationally with them, trying to understand their feelings, and trying to work with them rationally to find a solution to their problems and hurt feelings. I basically rolled my eyes at this and told her to let me know how that works out when she has two kids melting down in the grocery store.

But I have seen parents who overall eschew real discipline, whatever form that takes, in favor of trying to be their child’s friend or armchair shrink. And while I have no clue if the woman next to me in the grocery store with the two uncontrollable brats raising hell favors spanking, lectures, or time outs, I can see that when she basically ignores her children’s inappropriate behavior or excuses it in some way, those kids don’t show her any respect. Take that mother and multiply that situation n times, and I see more and more kids disrespecting their parents, their teachers, and others in numbers and frequency that I never saw when I was growing up. Most people in my peer group wouldn’t dare even think about talking to their parents or teachers the way I see children and Tweens talking to their parents now.

Actually, upon some reflection, I do think there is a certain amount of convenience associated with spanking. If a child misbehaves and the parent first tries a lecture, maybe tries a few lectures, and the behavior doesn’t change, maybe then the parent moves on to taking away a toy. The bad behavior still gets repeated, so then the parent moves on to time outs. I suppose in theory a parent could work indefinitely to find a way to stop bad behavior, and I’m sure at some point they would stumble upon a method that works. But what if that takes weeks or months, and in the meantime the child is still misbehaving on a regular basis, to the detriment of family, peer relations, education, and more? So one day if a parent decides to spank their child and the bad behavior stops, I suppose some people could say it was a convenient method of punishment. Convenient being a relative term…for some people a week of ineffective alternate methods of punishment is too long, for others it may be a month or 3 months. But if the spanking does stop the bad behavior then it certainly was an effective means of punishment.

I haven’t had to spank my kids yet, and I hope I don’t ever have to. But it’s not an option I’m going to rule out. Not if my kids ever get to a point where their behavior is interfering with their education, their friendships, their family relationships, or anything else important in life.

I has never really occurred to me to spank my children. They are polite and well behaved and sure as hell deserve punishment at times. I just never really think of it at the moment. I have found quite a few measures that work great for us.

Everything is much more complex than it seems so I have no knowledge if it is right or wrong. Everyone responds differently. My kids probably would not respond well to spankings. My 13yo daughter would likely become so resentful to me that our great relationship would be over. My 7yo son would be confused and scared. If I spanked them from a younger age I suppose they would grow use to it. If my current punishments did not work I suppose I may have considered spanking.

I am a child of depression era parents. Among the many things they did toward the development of their children was spank them. It is not a singular representation of their parenting skills. Those skills were many and were handed down from generation to generation as an actual skill. My mother was a full time caregiver. It was her primary job to raise the children.

In my generation we did not have the level of violence seen today in kids. Not only were schools not shot up we had shooting clubs at school. I was taught how to shoot a handgun AT SCHOOL. I carried a knife with me every day since probably the 4th grade. In HS I made a foot long knife in shop class and carried it around with me as a bookmark between classes while I was working on it.

IMO what has changed is not spanking or the lack thereof. what has changed is the loss of parental skills that were practiced as a primary duty and passed down from one generation to the next. Children are not held to the standards my generation was held to and it shows.

I think kids do age in and age out of a time table where spanking would be effective. I’ve read numerous reports saying spanking is most effective between ages 2-6. Kids older than that have more of a capacity to understand reasoning concerning behavior and consequences. I was surprised to learn that 80% of American parents have spangled their kids at some point. And the jury is still out when it comes to the effectiveness of spanking. We have heard a lot about the damaging effects, but studies also exist to the contrary. Below is an excerpt of a summary of one such study:

" One camp of experts argues that an openhanded swat to the buttocks is harmless – and, in fact, can be helpful. Den A. Trumbull, M.D., president of the American College of Pediatricians (which split from the AAP in 2002 over various policy differences) believes spanking is a proven way to reinforce milder disciplinary tactics. He cites a 2005 review of 26 spanking studies published in Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. The researchers concluded that spanking disobedient 2- to 6-year-olds worked just as well at reforming their behavior as 13 alternative disciplinary approaches (such as giving a time-out, reasoning with a child, and taking away privileges) as long as the parent lovingly and rationally explained the reasons for the action. Only when the corporal punishment was severe (such as striking the face) or when it was the family’s sole discipline method was it deemed harmful compared with other methods.

Magiver, I LOVE your comment. :slight_smile:

A couple of things.

First, millions of Americans today are fully functional and capable adults despite their mothers smoking and/or drinking during pregnancy. Anecdotes don’t equal data and all that. You want to convince me that the scientific studies showing an action is harmful are incorrect, don’t throw your personal ancedotes around. Tell me what is wrong with the data/studies or present superior data/studies. Not one person advocating spanking has done so with a single cite other than personal experience.

Second, the world is not falling apart. Crime is down. Teen pregnancy is down. Graduation rates are up. Things have been getting steadily better for kids for the last twenty years. The crime increases (for reasons not yet fully understood) peaked in the 1980s and have been going down since. The homicide rate right how is almost as low as it was in 1950 (cite). You perception that the current kids are going to hell in a hand basket is not backed up with any statistical data.

Bedazzler abuse :eek:
j/k, I know what you meant.

Anyway, this is my point. I think you’re tilting at a windmill because there are actually very few people who would say that physical discipline is never apprioriate for children under age 6. It is rather often necessary to physically remove children that age from danger and inappropriate situations, and physical discipline is also needed, at times, to make clear that certain behaviors are strictly forbidden (ie, biting). Heck, I know of a loads of “no hitting” parents who will bite back if their child bites them.

OTOH I would hold that there is almost no time when regular after-the-fact hitting on school-aged children is effective go-to punishment, much less the most effective punishment you could choose. I don’t think there is any study that contradicts this statement. Even the studies that support physical discipline, only support it for toddlers who cannot comprehend complex reasoning.

And if you are going through the trouble to “lovingly express the rules and consequences” (which IMHO is not typical of habitual spankers, AT ALL), I really don’t see why you have to go there and strike a child. It’s pretty much demonstrated that all mammals respond much better in the long run to positive reinforcement, even animals much much stupider and easier to cow than a human child.

ETA: also, what Strassia said. Kids are growing up into better, more productive, more intelligent, less criminal people than ever before. As far as I know, it has no link whatsoever to parenting skills, but rather, is correlated with a reduction in environmental lead exposure.

The violent crime rate in the US today is about the same as it was in the late '60s/early '70s. Back in the good old days when everyone spanked their children and there were shooting clubs in school and a woman’s place was in home, the violent crime rate kept going up and up, eventually peaking in the late '80s/early '90s. It has been dropping ever since.

First of all, you really need to cite your sources here. You copied a whole paragraph from…somewhere…without telling us who wrote it or where it came from. Second, all this says is that spanking can work as well as other punishments in certain situations but can be harmful in others. If the question is whether parents should spank or not then “when done properly it’s not worse than other methods” isn’t really a ringing endorsement. If it isn’t actually better than other methods like taking away privileges, why go with spanking?

I believe that baby spanking can be very effective . I never liked spanking children past the age of 2 or maybe 3 at the most. At that age spankings are very gentle and the child imprints very easily to obey. One time my daughter about 15 at the time slugged her 3 year old brother very hard in the stomach, leaving him unable to breath. I put a belt to her but that time but that was the only exception I can think of. I didn’t do much right in life but I hve alwasy been proud of the way my kids turned out. They are in their 30’s and 40’s respectively now and we just never had issues with them as kids or adults. Daughter ditched some classes one time and got grounded in high school. That was about it. Neither of them were very good about keeping thir rooms clean but I take the blame for that because I never pushed it as long as they cleaned up well on the weekend.

For most of my adult years, I’ve been ambivalent towards spanking. I was whupped as a kid and hey, I turned out alright! If by alright you mean law-abiding, employed, and productive.

But when I look back on my childhood, there are way too many memories that revolve around violence. I don’t remember being motivated to do right out of a fear of disappointing my parents. No, I was always afraid of getting in trouble. I got yelled at more than I was whupped, but the yelling was especially scary because of the threat of violence. I don’t think my parents (especially my father) realize how scared I was just being myself. I am not so fearful today, but I don’t consider myself a role model of emotional well-being either.

I do see how my nieces, who were not raised under the threat of the belt, seem overly familiar with adults. I’m one-part envious, one-part sanctimonious. I’m trying to see it this way: yeah, they can be smart-asses sometimes and it’s inevitable that the world will take them down a peg before too long. But at least they aren’t fearful and timid. It’s better to have too much of an ego than none at all, IMHO. If the trade-off of a no-spanking society is that youngsters are a little more mouthy than they would be otherwise, then I’m all for it.

Celtling is consistently one of the best behaved children in any gathering. Her teachers and the parents of her friends all comment on it. She has never been hit, smacked, swatted, slapped or spanked in any way.

She has received careful and consistent discipline, and has been told the reasons why certain behaviors are unacceptable. Most importantly, she has observed a model of calm and kind behavior. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve raised my voice to her in her almost-six years.

Hitting teaches only fear. Hitting makes a child afraid to do something again if they might be caught doing it. It does nothing to instill values or a sense of right and wrong. In fact, it’s extremely confusing. Somebody gave the example of a small child hitting a smaller child - for which they were in turn hit by a larger adult. What lesson exactly was this child supposed to gain? “Only really big people are allowed hit to get the behavior they want from others.” would seem to be the obvious message.

As a class there is IMO going to be some degree of skew in doper anecdotes about what sensitive and obedient angels their children are and how they would be psychically devastated if a hand were laid upon them, then generalizing that notion to all misbehaving kids. Dopers are more introverted, more intellectual, more legally complaint, and I would also hazard to guess less socially and inter-personally dominant in their interpersonal relationships than an average statistical slice of the US population at large, and to a large extent their children will model that good citizen behavior.

Children are not entirely blank slates, some are by nature and inclination aggressive and dominant and will not hesitate to physically impose their will on other kids or even adults if they perceive they can get away with it. Extended debates about appropriate behaviors will work with some kids, but some are dominant and violent tyrants and need to be stopped quickly. Generalizing that all kids would be like the generally compliant and well behaved fruit of your loins with enough understanding and gentle correction is IMO a dangerous conceit.