Spanking :: Child Discipline or Child Abuse?

Were you ever spanked as a child?

During my childhood, I recall the threat of being spanked more than I remember actually receiving a swat. My mom had an 18-inch wooden ruler that she would take out when I was misbehaving and she would say that if my behavior didn’t stop that I would get a whack with the ruler.

In a moment of pure brilliance, I thought that I would hide the ruler on my mom so she wouldn’t be able to use it. The next time she went to retrieve it and saw it missing, I was told that I would get extra smacks if I didn’t turn over the ruler right then and there.

While I remember being spanked a few times, as well as a firm pinch here and there, I think the idea of the punishment was enough to deter me from continuing whatever behavior brought about the idea of a spanking.

From what my wife has told me, her childhood was different in that she vividly remembers being spanked with a wooden spoon – slotted for less air resistance – and receiving spankings with a belt. In her house there were not any warnings about changing her behavior or else, she received the spanking at the first sign of misbehaving.

Often times when people think of spanking a child, they recall stories on the news where a parent is caught on video beating a small child. A few years ago there was a security camera that captured a woman smacking her child multiple times in the parking lot of a large store. In my opinion, that has crossed the line of spanking and can easily be considered child abuse and I am sure all of us would agree that that type of action is unacceptable.

What do you think about spanking your children?

John from Daddee Yah! recently wrote a post about child discipline and tagged me to share my thoughts.

Now that I am a parent myself, I have faced the question of whether spanking a child is an effective means of discipline or if it is more a form of abuse that does not have a place in raising a child.

Before diving into how we have approached spanking in our house, I have to say that I view a spanking as a single swat across the rear-end or back of the leg and I do not consider it to be abuse. When a parent swats a child repeatedly, I believe that is when the line has been crossed from a spanking into abuse.

With that said, I will tell you that my children have been spanked by my wife and me. However, we have come to the realization that spanking is not an effective means of discipline in our house and is not something that we plan to do again. While I don’t think that spanking a child is wrong and should never be done, I do believe there are other means of disciplining our children that are more effective.

As an example, I recently mentioned one father that sold the copy of Guitar Hero III that he bought his son for Christmas after catching his son using drugs. Could he have spanked his son? Probably. Would it have been as effective as not giving his son a coveted video game? Probably not.

In our house, we have used various forms of discipline but I don’t believe we have found the one solution that works all of the time. Our kids have had their fair share of timeouts, weekends without any video games, days without being able to play with a friend, or conversations with mom and dad about why their behavior was unacceptable.

Just the other day I had mentioned to my wife that I want to use more of a positive reinforcement approach with our kids. Rather than trying to take things away from them when they misbehave or sending them to their room, I believe that more encouragement and reinforcement of their good behavior may reduce their bad behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that my kids will have a free ride and never be punished for misbehaving.

As a parent, sometimes I feel that I have lost touch with what it means to be a child and that some of their behavior is just a part of growing up and learning what they can and cannot do. There are certainly boundaries that should not be crossed and when they are the child needs to be disciplined. Each child is different and may require a different form of discipline, which I believe can include spanking, in order for it to be effective.

Spanking, in my opinion, is not so much a question about right or wrong but more about effective or ineffective.

Do you agree or disagree?

Comments

  1. says

    I think I got spanked maybe once growing up. The threat of a spanking was far greater deterrent. For me it was more about getting sent to my room, no tv etc. Since I was an angel I didn’t really get much discipline ;-)

  2. says

    Thought-provoking post.

    I have 2 memories of getting “the belt.” One was after I was caught lighting matches down at the wilderness by our home.

    I think it has its place. Sometimes children need to feel the pain, which is actually slight, compared to the consequences of their own dangerous actions as in my case the matches were. The other time I got the belt was for jumping off the 2 story roof with my brother when my parents were away. A heighbor saw us. I’d say we were around 13 or 14 at the time. (we’re 14 months apart).

  3. says

    Hey Derek,

    I definitely got spanked growing up. I think there are better deterrents, but it’s up to each individual to find his or her balance.

    Thanks for stopping by A Good Husband. I moved the blog over to Blogger b/c of formatting issues I was having (I’m more familiar with Blogger) and I reposted your comment there. I hope that’s okay.

  4. says

    I got spanked. Heck, sometimes, I got beaten. But I guarantee I deserved it.

    Personally, I view spanking as a necessary thing, but not always the most effective.

    For example, yesterday my son decided to use a red sharpie marker on the carpet in his room. You know, one day after we told the landlord we were looking for a bigger place. We decided to ground him rather than spank him. Why? Because if I would have started spanking him while I was that angry, it could have gone too far.

    I disagree that more than one swat is abusive, but I do agree that you can go too far. We generally decide how many swats based on the severity of the offense. For example, talking back gets one, hitting his sister, two, etc.

    To take it a step farther (and to enrage certain states), it’s a bad idea to ban spanking. Why? Because for *many* who choose to spank it’s a moral obligation, based on biblical teachings. To make it illegal would thereby make it illegal to practice an aspect of religious duty, which is unconstitutional.

    But you can’t explain that to some people :).

    Either way, there’s a correct way to do it, and a wrong way.

  5. Clarissa says

    It has been said that our country places way too much emphasis on punishment and not enough on positive reinforcement. It makes sense because we are at heart, a very punitive, negative society so we are always looking for ways to punish adults and children rather than looking for ways to love and help them.
    A country that has a history of slavery and that has committed horrendous acts against the native peoples and it’s citizens is a country that doesn’t think twice about mistreating children. Until we realize that for five hundred years we have been a nation of sociopaths, we will never really learn to treat children and adults with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Outlawing spanking like all the other countries are doing would be a beginning.

  6. Andrew says

    When your child is defiant,rebellious and throwing temper tantrums, a good, hard spanking will be the bitter but rihgt medicine. In those cases, one swat won´t be sufficient to convince the kid that´s better to behave. The “rod of correction” applied in a biblical way on the bare butt works wonder in brokeness, repentance and respect for parental authority since thousands of years.

  7. robert says

    I have 4 children ranging from 16 to 7 and have at some point in their lives spanked them. Its not a common occurance for them to be physically punished, normally they get the harsh punishment for the most severe misbehavour. I personally will not tolerate disrespect. Recently I was forced to spank my 7 year old for acting badly in school. Her teacher informed me over several weeks that she had been acting badly, like screaming, pushing, kicking chairs or desk and actually dropping to the floor and throwing a full out temper tantrum. I tried things like time-outs, grounding, taking away things like tv. Finally the teacher called me and said she attemped to hit him. At that point I went to the school and checked her out. I brought her home and proceded to light her little bottem up. Once I thought she had been spanked enough I made her hold her arms straight out to her side and placed a book in each hand. I made her hold those books as long as she could, then I let her rest. Once she had rested, I made her hold them again. believe it or not, its been 3 months since she got into trouble in school. Some people will say I abused my child. Maybe I did, I certainly felt horrible after the punishment was complete. I love my children and only want the best for them. I would prefere to teach them right from wrong before they end up in a pickle that being a child wont get them out of.

  8. katiem says

    I don’t think spanking is the most effective form of discipline. As a mom to 3 kids, we use timeouts, the removal of privileges/toys, etc. This seems to work better for us than spanking. There are those occasional times when we have used a spanking, but we always use it as a last resort. There’s an excellent debate about whether to spank or not at http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/is-spanking-an-acceptable-form-of-discipline. Experts from both sides weigh in and have some really interesting things to say on the issue.

  9. Krystle says

    I belive that spanking is not that way to go. In my household we dont do any kinds of physical violence. We talk away the childrens fav toys like tv and the computer and time out with friends. If the children get worse and get use mad we send then to there room and alow them to come back when they are ready to behive again. We have meetings with the children just so we can inforce the rules over again so they understand them and if there are any prbolmes we talk to the children about what we can do to change then and to talk about what they did wrong so the child understands what really went wrong

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