Wednesday, December 03, 2008

To Spank or Not To Spank

I came across a blog talking about spanking as a form of discipline and some bloggers commenting against it. This is a very delicate matter to discuss and yet an important issue to tackle. While parents have different style of disciplining their children, the question still remains - is it right or wrong to spank our kids? What do the experts say?

This is what I read from the book of Eisenberg, Murkoff and Hathaway of "What to Expect the Toddler Years" and I want to share it to all moms.

  • Spanking as a means of discipline has been passed on from generation to generation in many families. Nevertheless, most experts agree that spanking is not effective. Children who are spanked may refrain from repeating a misdemeanor rather than risk a repeat spanking, but they obey only out of fear. Instead of learning to differentiate between right and wrong, they only learn to differentiate between what they get spanked for and don't get spanked for. And they rarely learn self-discipline.
  • Spanking also has many other negative aspects:
  1. It sets a violent example. Children who are spanked are more likely to use physical force against peers, and later against their own children.
  2. By teaching children that the best way to settle a dispute is with force, spanking denies them the chance to learn alternative, less hurtful ways of dealing with anger and frustration. It also represents the abuse of power by a very large, strong party (or bully) against a very small, comparatively weak one.
  3. Spanking is humiliating and demeaning to both the parent and the child, often shattering self-esteem and morale.
  4. Spanking can also lead to serious injury, particularly when it happens in the heat of anger.
  5. Spanking after the anger has cooled may cause less physical damage, but seems even more questionable. It is certainly cruelly calculated, and in the long run is less effective in correcting behavior, since the punishment is so far removed from the offense.
Some experts (and parents) believe that a smack on the hand or the bottom may be warranted in a dangerous situation to get an important message across to a child too young to understand words. For example, when a young toddler wanders into the street or continues to approach a hot stove following a stern warning to stay away. The idea is not to inflict pain, but to quickly call a child's attention to the seriousness of the situation. Such a slap should be followed by an explanation: "If you run into the street, a car could hurt you." Once a child shows that he or she understands what you say, however, physical force is no longer considered justifiable even when safety is an issue.

* * *

It is very rare that a parent will intentionally hurt a child. Most child abusers inflict physical punishment either out of anger or because they believe they are doing it for the child's benefit. Most were disciplined the same way themselves. But anything more than a smack on the botton (well-padded with a diaper) can injure a child, especially a young one. Even something as seemingly harmless as shaking can cause serious damage in the infant or toddler. Certainly, using a belt, ruler, or other weapon is extremely dangerous.

If you ever feel as though you can't control yourself and want to strike your toddler, get help immediately. Call a neighbor or friend who lives nearby or your local child abuse hotline. ( it will be listed in the white pages under Child Abuse and may also be listed in a special section, such as Community Services Numbers, in the front of the book. Do the same if anyone who cares for your child or lives in your home attempts to or actually does hit your child. To have the number handy should you ever need it, fill the number in now under the "Emergency Numbers" listing on the inside back cover of the book.


  1. Yippeee Mira! No to spanking! :-) Watch out for my spanking post too hehehe I got your 'spanking email' by the way.


  2. Hi Mira.
    Great post!
    I totally agree with you and I am one of the bloggers that stands against any type of violence.
    Violence generates violence and it´s never effective to educate.
    This topics are included in my area of expertise but because I think I still have a lot to learn, I never present myself that way.
    Cheers! xxx

  3. I love your blog and choice of topics. I'm so glad I'm "a follower" of your blog. with gratitude, laurie B.

  4. Hi, sis. I was soanked when I was a kid and the experience wasn't pretty. I told myself that I will never allow my kids to go through the same experience. It's important for parents to teach what is right and wrong. Words are more effective than physical violence.

  5. I raised four children on my own as a single Dad. I made every mistake in the book, including corporal punishment, which I regret...REALLY this day, and now my kids are 39, 37, 28 and 26. I wish I could do it all over.

  6. Im guilty with this.I spank(light) my son whenever he made some not so good things as part of discipline,but I always tell him that he should never do it again coz it's not good.

  7. Spanking should be an event, not something done out of anger.

    And when you are done, and they have had time to think about everything, go back into their room and love on them.

  8. You make some very good points against spanking. I do like though that you included the rare time when it is appropriate when safety is a factor. I also think if used sparingly with toddlers when appropriate, such as open defiance to a parent, they learn what the parent says, goes which is very important and will prevent a lot of problems later on.

  9. I feel that spanking is sign of not coping. It's an odd way of teaching your child, by spanking, and I think there are better ways.

  10. Not spanking is why we have so many behavior issues with our children today. Spanking can be an effective tool is used properly. Not spanking out of anger is key. You must also be sure that the child knows why they are being spanked. My oldest son grew up with corporal punishment and he has had no issues with his behavior as a teenager or adult. Too many people use this incorrectly and spank a child for no particular reason. And my oldest sons father was just such a person. He would spank our son if he blinked his eyes wrong. And I am thankful that I left him when I did. And to this day I still use spanking as a method of discipline for my younger children.

  11. I agree that spanking can be a useful tool of discipline. My children are not old enough for it, but I plan on using it when words and time-outs are not effective.

    But I really think that trying to shield our children from violence is a disservice. Violence is part of the world we live in and that's not going to change. I'm not saying to beat them, but they(especially boys) will be faced with violence by bullies and they need to know when it is appropriate to use violence in their defense, etc. If all we do is teach non-violence, they will have no defenses. How can we raise pansies?

    Children that allow themselves to be bullied will suffer from depression, anxiety, lack of self esteem, will be less likely to go to college, have a lower paying job, have a less desirable mate...and the list goes on and on. Come on! As women are we really soooo ignorant of this point? Do we really think that if we teach non violence at every end, it's going to make the world a better place? There are more creeps out there unknowingly or knowingly teaching their children things...and my sons will have to share a classroom or gym floor with. My boys are going to be prepared to stand up for their honor, the honor of women, people who can't defend themselves, etc. If they come home from school suspended for fighting, but did so for the right reasons, I won't have a problem with it.