How can I stop my toddler from hitting me?

Kriss - posted on 06/20/2011 ( 83 moms have responded )

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Hello! I have a little boy who just turned two. He is normally a very sweet and agreeable child, but we have now entered the "NO!" phase of the terrible twos. I will suggest that he do something - take a bath, eat his dinner, etc., and he often responds with a loud "NO!". When I go get him and insist that he do what I say, he will say "NO!" again, and then he hits me. I will tell him firmly not to hit, but he doesn't stop...he keeps yelling "no" and hitting me until I put him down and walk away. And even this doesn't stop it in the moment - "time outs" don't get through to him, and he hits again as soon as I go back to him. If I get angry, or try to hold onto his hands so he can't hit, he thinks it's funny, which of course makes things even worse! How can I get him to stop hitting, and also to understand it's not funny when Mommy is upset with him, and that what I say, goes?

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Kate CP - posted on 06/20/2011

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Kriss: You can ALWAYS make options...but he doesn't have to know that there really is only one outcome. ;) For example:
"Would you like to take a bath with bubbles or without bubbles?" instead of "It's time to take a bath now."
"Would you like to take a nap with your special bunny or with your favorite book?" instead of "You have to nap now."

One of the things I've done with my daughter and nap time and bed time is to tell her that she doesn't have to sleep, she doesn't even have to lie down, but she HAS to stay in her room and play quietly like color or read a book. This has made bedtime SO MUCH easier. Instead of fighting her at bedtime every night because she didn't feel tired enough to lay down she gets a song, a story and then we leave. She may just lie down and go right to sleep or she may color for a while. When she gets tired she lies down and sleeps.

The next time he hits you get down on his level and ask him "Do you know how much it hurts me when you hit? It makes me want to cry." Then give him words to use instead of his hands. When he starts to get angry tell him "Wow! You're angry! Can you show me an angry face so I can see how angry you are?" and help him express himself verbally. Anger and frustration are healthy, normal emotions that we need to learn to accept from our kids. Kids just have a tendency to be kinda dramatic about it. ;)

Kriss - posted on 06/23/2011

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I thank you all for your input, and I have seen some very helpful suggestions! And I did actually enjoy the theology lesson, and all the viewpoints and personal interpretations of the Bible verses. I believe the Bible SHOULD be interpreted and discussed, and I do not believe that it should be taken literally. As was stated by someone else, the Bible has been rewritten numerous times throughout history, and not always by the most honorable men. I do claim to be a Christian, but definitely a nonviolent one, and I am very much against heavy-handed physical discipline. I much prefer the idea of time-outs, loss of privilege, and incentives for good behavior. My son just turned two, so while the sticker charts and positive reinforcement ideas aren't really relevant for him yet, I will file that away for use a few months down the road.



In response to a couple of excellent points made...my son is not hitting out of anger or frustration...to him it seems to be a game. My husband and I never hit, even in play, so I am assuming he's picked this up at his daycare, as I know there are some challenges there with other children acting out aggressively (hitting, biting, etc.), and for my son, it seems to be a way of playing. He just doesn't get yet that it's not fun for anyone else.



When I get angry with him and he laughs, I don't believe in this case that he feels nervous or can't express his feelings any other way - I think he thinks it's part of the game. I know some children do express those feelings by laughing, but it's not what's happening in our case. My challenge here is with trying to get him to understand that I'm not playing, and I think ignoring him is my best defense here...if I don't "throw the ball back", figuratively speaking, there's no game.



"Time outs" are challenging for us, because my son will NOT sit still. So I got creative a couple of days ago...we have an extra stroller that's in our living room, awaiting donation to Goodwill. I buckled him into it for about 5 minutes, and walked away. When I came back, we had a serious chat about hitting, and he hasn't done it since. I'm now thinking of keeping that stroller, and sticking a plant in it or something....



The "no" thing doesn't really bother me all that much - it's aggravating in the moment, but I understand that it's age-appropriate for him to be asserting himself and arguing for control. And the suggestion about wording his choices more carefully has already helped, and we haven't heard "no" nearly as much from him in the past few days. I'm very grateful for that idea!



Again, THANKS to all who offered their wisdom! Overall, my son is very bright and loving, and is almost never in trouble for anything. And that's part of the problem - when I get angry with him, he doesn't understand how to be in trouble! But we're working on it, and I feel certain that we'll get through this phase relatively unscathed. But we'll do it through nonviolent means, not through hitting...as I stated previously, I see no value in teaching my son to "do as I say, not as I do." While I honestly can understand the use of an occasional attention-getting pop on the behind (but in the moment that the bad behavior happens, and certainly not hard enough to cause bruising or physical harm), I can't agree to some of the other means suggested. I feel it teaches him nothing about not hitting if I hit him back. I work at an elementary school, and I see firsthand every day the effects of extreme physical discipline on small children, and I could never do that to my son.



A side note to the woman with the 18 month old with a fear of the "white spoon"...I understand you believe you are doing what you think is best, and I know it's not my child but I don't agree, and I will pray for you and your daughter. I will also pray for the woman who is using Bible verses to justify violence against her children. I hope one day you speak with someone with more theological knowledge than I have who can help you understand that a loving God would never advocate or encourage child abuse.



And with that, I will end my lengthy note...have a wonderful evening! Blessings to all!

Johnny - posted on 06/22/2011

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"When my daughter tells me no and hits me I hit her back with the same force."

Can't wait to see how that technique works out when she gets to be a teenager. Should be an entertaining show.

Harming your child is NEVER the morally correct choice no matter what any ancient holy book says about it. Disgusting! These threads just make me sick.

Charlie - posted on 06/22/2011

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So happy it's illegal here to strike a child with a weapon...it sickens me to be honest.



Erin, Proverbs was written by king solom who was a heratic and sinner and plotted against god.



Jesus , gods "son" did not condone his advice or the action implied .



"Foolishness is found in the heart of a child. But the rod of correction will drive it far from him." So declared Solomon (Proverbs 22:15). But Jesus held otherwise. "Verily, I say unto you, unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3).



To Jesus, not only did the grown-ups not have all the answers, but they may have forgotten things that they knew in youth. Many things fade as we depart from childhood. The power to laugh joyfully, to dream and imagine, to love truly and form deep friendships, to believe in wonders and sense the things of the Spirit. In teaching youth our knowledge, instead of "beating the foolishness out of them", we may have something to learn in return.



Some of the gloomier theologians believed that children were born depraved. They were "tainted with sin" and had to be beaten and subdued. Thus, John Wesley wrote, "Break his will, if you would not damn the child. Teach him to fear the rod and to cry softly ... Break his will now that his soul shall live"4. But Jesus viewed the child as did the poet Wordsworth:



In trailing clouds of glory do we come ....

Heaven lies about us in our infancy.

Shades of the prison house begin to close

Upon the growing boy ...

At length, the man perceives it die away

And fade into the common light of day.5



Said Jesus, "Suffer the little children to come unto me., and forbid them not. For of such is the kingdom of Heaven" (Mark 10:14)



And Jesus warned, "It were better for him if a millstone were hanged around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should offend one of these little ones" (Luke 17:2).





There is no authority in the Bible for the corporal punishment of children with rod or otherwise, except in the Proverbs of Solomon. It is only Solomon who recommends child-beating. Never the Lord.



Solomon's child-rearing methods worked very badly for his own son, Prince Rehoboam. Solomon has an undeserved reputation for wisdom. In reality, he left his country oppressed and impoverished. In his later years, he turned to idol worship and practiced "the abominations of Chemosh and Moloch".



There is no support for he beating of youth outside of Solomon's Proverbs. Solomon's views are controverted both by Jesus and the Apostle John.



Paul warned Fathers against the anger and resentment that might be aroused in their children by corporal punishments. The way of love was better.



St. Paul deplored the punishment of youth by human fathers who chastised youth "for their own pleasure". Only divine chastisements were righteous.



Jesus and John saw children as being close to God and urged love rather than fear in education.



If a Christian henceforth grabs for a rod or a paddle because "the Bible says so", they are heeding the words of an idol-worshipping king, rather than the words of Christ.

Kylie - posted on 06/22/2011

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yeah that verse is not meant to be taken literally. The rod is not a spanking stick. It is a very large stick that a shepherd uses to guide the sheep, he doesn't hit them with it.

No spanking does not mean no discipline.

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Kriss - posted on 06/26/2011

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Again, many thanks to all who offered non-violent solutions to my problem. I am already seeing results from many of your suggestions. I have no intention of "popping him right so it hurts"...I currently have a very gentle child, and I have no interest in teaching him that hitting is acceptable in any case. He is a bright boy, and my taking the time to work with him on this is already showing desirable results. That said, I am opting to close this conversation, as I feel that I have received enough tools to move forward, and my thanks to all who responded.

[deleted account]

They just do that at that age. I have always kindly discouraged it, and they eventually grow out of it. My advice is don't make a big deal out of it.

Judy - posted on 06/26/2011

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As an NLP Kids Practitioner, I notice a lot of negatives in your description. I would recommend you focus on when he is good and instead of telling him what not to do, instead tell him what you would like him to do eg be kind, be gentle and remind him how sweet he is usually. Judy Bartkowiak

Brooke - posted on 06/26/2011

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I totally love "the happiest toddler on the block"!!!!! It really helps!!!!

Shernette - posted on 06/26/2011

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I agree, pop him right so it hurts. The problem with todays parents they think you can reason with kids over everything. I am a parent with five children ages 14 through 35 and they all did it. Guess what, popped them right back then asked did it hurt and did you like how it felt, then don't do it because everytime you do it I'm going to pop you. It stopped. If you're going to reason with a 2 or 4 year old, good luck when they're 15 and 16 years old.

Jana - posted on 06/26/2011

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I used the time out chair. There were times when my oldest spent most of his day getting right back in the time out chair. If he repeated the offense, he went right back in until he made a good decision. He knew if he chose to "misbehave" that he was choosing the consequence, whatever I told him that would be, throughout his growing up years. The trick is to make the consequence something that they really care about. When they're that little, I found that the time out chair worked the best though. Be consistent, and that takes discipline. Good luck!

User - posted on 06/25/2011

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We're using a book called 1-2-3 Magic! by Dr. Thomas Phelan (4th edition's the latest), and usually time-outs work for us, but in cases when it doesn't, I tell my girls - "Only babies do that! If you do that, then you're a baby! Babies can't have...dessert/toys/priviledges/tv/later bedtimes etc so I will take those away."
Then the child protests "NO! I'm NOT a baby! I'm a big girl!"
"Then stop hitting - only babies do that!"

That works for us in cases when time-outs just make the girls laugh at us.

Dianne - posted on 06/24/2011

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It's difficult for a 2yr old to understand when mummy starts to say No, think of your child as a mini me, they repete your tone, behaviour etc, I found to get my son to do anything I used positivie words not negative, like praising when good and firm when naughty with the time out, but if like u say that time out does not work try to say if he is a ggod boy u will read him a story or go to the park, it's all about finding what make your little one tick. if he does this for you then you will do something he wants to do, if that fails try to make what u want fun by turning it into a race saying first one to have a bath is the winner, or lets go and put the ducks in the bath etc.
Good Luck
Dianne. x

Dana - posted on 06/24/2011

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Yes, Jennifer, I think the person who posted a fairly crazy comment deleted it. Thankfully.

Kriss - posted on 06/23/2011

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I had no idea I was kicking a theological hornet's nest with this post...

Dana - posted on 06/23/2011

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Erin, I would imagine you ARE angering your child when you hit them. So by that scripture, you're not obeying the Lord.

ErinM - posted on 06/23/2011

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Ephesians 6:4 Fathers (or mothers) do not provoke your children to anger by teh way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. -So with that being said you discipline your children the way the Lord leads you too, and I will discipline mines the way He leads me too,( which at times is spanking)- And I am done with the conversation. Scriptures also say, "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel" so with that being said I am done, everyone be blessed.

Krista - posted on 06/23/2011

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Sometimes when we deal with hitting, we have to be more consistent than we think. My son has hit at times, and I hold his hand by his side and sternly tell him, "No -- we do NOT hit!" And like your son, he squirms and giggles, thinking it's a game. But if I keep his arm by his side, and keep the serious look on my face, and keep repeating it, then eventually he stops giggling and starts looking upset. That's when I repeat it one more time, "We do NOT hit. Do you understand Mommy?" And I then give him a hug and let him go. Whatever discipline method you use, you have to use it for long enough that they know it's not a game.

Kim - posted on 06/23/2011

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Time outs really work well. It was what I used with my children. When they were younger all it took was that five mins, then we would talk about why they were in the five min time out.

Rosie - posted on 06/23/2011

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how is what you are doing any different though? you are taking the words and twisting them to suit your purpose as well.
there are many other ways to discipline a child that doesn't involve hitting. no spanking does not equal no discipline.

Jenni - posted on 06/23/2011

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Ok spankings, beatings. They were spanking 2-3 month old babies. I think the verse Christians refer to is vague at best. Don't you think your god would have put some stipulations on it? Or did he intend you to take it as you like and hit your children at any age and any degree that you as the parent saw fit?

Does it directly say that in the Bible, not to beat but spank?

I'm curious if you can pull up a single verse that refers to 'spanking' as way to discipline your children.

Or do they literally mean to use a rod (comparable to a shepherd's staff) to beat the good into them?

ErinM - posted on 06/23/2011

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There was a church in the US that was really taking the good old "He that spares the rod, hateth the child" to a new level and beating 2-3 month old babies for crying.--
That is out of balance, see and that is why it says in all thy getting get an understanding. No one says beat your children but it is okay to spank them.

Jenni - posted on 06/23/2011

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God also says it's ok to burn witches and heretics, should Christians still practice that?
Who cares if it's illegal in society! Apparently, In Africa they don't care and kill thousands of children when their pastors/priests what have you deem them witches.

I guess you can deny the laws of the World if you don't mind risking having your children taken away by social services.

All I'm saying it's not the first time people have used the Bible to justify their atrocious behaviours.

There was a church in the US that was really taking the good old "He that spares the rod, hateth the child" to a new level and beating 2-3 month old babies for crying.

You sort of need to apply some critical thinking when trying to interpret 3000 year old text that has been translated and edited 100's of times.

No child *needs* a spanking. There are only parents who feel the need to spank.

ErinM - posted on 06/23/2011

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I never said since you dont spank you kid you are not following God's Word, I said it is okay, and was responding to someone else's post saying it is illegal, and I was stating the fact if God says it is okay then forget what the world say, discipline is a part of parenting. Awesome that you dont spank you kid I am not knocking that but some children do need a spanking.

Kate CP - posted on 06/23/2011

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Well, Kriss, you ask a question about positive parenting techniques to get your kid to stop hitting you and you get a theology lesson. ;)

Anywho...Erin, that is all totally irrelevant since Kriss has said already that she DOES NOT WANT TO HIT HER CHILD. So, telling her to hit her child in response is NOT frickin' helpful for her.

And on a side note...any god that tells me I am to beat my kids or hurt them in any way is not a god I want to be in the presence of. I *am* a Christian, but I believe in Christ's teachings of love and acceptance and FORGIVENESS. I don't hit my kids because they made a mistake. Kids make mistakes and I don't think the best way to help them learn from their mistakes is to beat them (or spank, swat, pop, smack, whatever the hell you want to call it). So, Erin, if YOU want to spank your kids that is legally your right in the grand ol' US of A. But that doesn't mean that because other people choose to not spank that we're not following God's word OR that we're not disciplining our kids. My daughter is happy, healthy, well behaved, and polite. She listens to me in public and at home, she doesn't throw tantrums any more (since I STOPPED spanking), and we have a much calmer home with almost no shouting or screaming. Life is much better for us since we STOPPED spanking. It's a change that I encourage parents to try. You'd be amazed at the results.

Dana - posted on 06/23/2011

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Erin M, if you knew so much about religion,as you thought you did, you'd know that the bible has been changed through out the years. The catholic church is now changing some more wording in the bible. Just as they have done for hundreds upon hundreds of years.

God gave you a brain to use also. Your brain SHOULD be telling you that hitting a child is wrong.

Jenni - posted on 06/23/2011

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Far from the first time the Good Book has been used by men to justify heinous acts...

Charlie - posted on 06/22/2011

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That isnt an understanding that is an opinion based on a scripture written by a heratic that has been re written , translated over and over.

It really does suck for those who use the bible for good that others would use it as a sheild for their acts of inhumanity.

Jodi - posted on 06/22/2011

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Nope, they really do believe that God told them to hit their child!! Sad, isn't it?

Bec - posted on 06/22/2011

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yeah I agree but I am sus on this subject were they looking for a bite? cause shurely we all know this. I kind of feel sorry for god gets the blame for alot of things I know I would not like to be him LOL

Jodi - posted on 06/22/2011

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"It also teaches do not do on to others as you do not want done to you. what happened to that verse?"

It's called cherry-picking and they do it because they need to try and justify hitting their kids instead of owning it as their own CHOICE. That's right, they hit their kids because they CHOOSE to. But they like to blame God for it.

Johnny - posted on 06/22/2011

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Oh, I know Bec. I was just referring to the other twisted folks on here who think that their God wants them to hit their kids. I can not stomach that line of thinking, I find it so abhorrent.

Bec - posted on 06/22/2011

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Oh my post before was not infavour I too think it is not on at all monkey see monkey do.In my world there is no room for voilence not at all

Bec - posted on 06/22/2011

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The other comments on the bible, there are so many different interpretations and it depends on this and also how far you go.I don't remeber the world ending like people were anticipating not so long ago. It also teaches do not do on to others as you do not want done to you. what happened to that verse?

Bec - posted on 06/22/2011

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I will tell you now that a spank does not get rid of a disability. Same as a depressed person being told to snap out of it and get a job or whatever. you could smack till the cows come home then what?????

Bec - posted on 06/22/2011

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and what if after a few years or months you learn that your child has a disability that is the reason for the behaviour or explains this more than what you know now and you then realise you not only abused them but you later realise of the disability and how much you helpped them NOT!!!!

Jodi - posted on 06/22/2011

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Stop using the Bible as an excuse to spank. If you are going to spank (which I do not condone), then own the fact that you CHOOSE to spank. Not that you spank because the Bible told you to do it. If the Bible told you to jump off a cliff, would you take that literally too?

ErinM - posted on 06/22/2011

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There is no authority in the Bible for the corporal punishment of children with rod or otherwise, except in the Proverbs of Solomon. It is only Solomon who recommends child-beating. Never the Lord. SO NOT TRUE, How about when the little children was teasing Elisha and he caused the female bear to come out and kill them, or how about when under the voice of GOD when the elders told the city to take the disobedient child outside the village and stone him because his behavior could not be corrected.(Deutoronomy). Or when Moses said who is on the Lord's side come over here, and the ones who didnt come their entire households were swallowed up (meaning children too)? So therefor God not only said discipline your child, but in the past they were killed because of their behavior? That is just why children these days are out of order and disrespectful, because of no discipline.

ErinM - posted on 06/22/2011

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I follow the scriptures very closely,and have great understanding, because I have an awesome, Holy Spirit filled leader. SO I GUESS THAT IS WHY MY CHILD DONT HIT ME, AND WHEN SHE DID IT DIDNT LAST A WEEK. :)

ErinM - posted on 06/22/2011

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Jesus , gods "son" did not condone his advice or the action implied . Everything in the bible is written by God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so the plain thing is the main thing. JESUS did not come to do away with the old testament but to live it out. (as He stated) so he did not go against the advice.

"Foolishness is found in the heart of a child. But the rod of correction will drive it far from him." -This means if a child is corrected then the foolishness will be driven from him, the main thing is the plain thing here.-


But Jesus held otherwise. "Verily, I say unto you, unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3).-Here Jesus meant you cannot claim to know everything if you want to enter the Kingdom of God, because if you know it all already then you dont need him.-
If a Christian henceforth grabs for a rod or a paddle because "the Bible says so", they are heeding the words of an idol-worshipping king, rather than the words of Christ. -SO NOT TRUE- The bible says,"In all thy getting get an understanding" and what you listed is not understanding.

Katherine - posted on 06/22/2011

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I'm so shocked I don't even know what to say.....

Erin, how could you HIT your child like that? You are not reading the bible correctly. You have NO idea what you're talking about.
What you are doing is child abuse. I think you may need some help.

Kylie - posted on 06/22/2011

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Which book is that? I'm guessing one from the OT? It's hard to believe they used the word "spank" 2000 years ago.

ErinM - posted on 06/22/2011

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yes, it does dont you see in 23:13 it says if you SPANK them they will not die. The rod is meant to guide and discipline. (You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free) Be blessed.

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