If spanking is working then why do we still spank?

Katherine - posted on 06/03/2011 ( 24 moms have responded )




If it works, then why do we have to continue to do it?


Sylvia - posted on 09/10/2011




I read something once that really resonated with me. It was something like, If your toddler is doing something he shouldn't, you can redirect him 100 times or you can spank him 100 times, but whatever you do it's going to take many repetitions before he gets it...

IME, many parents who spank (caveat: I only know such people on the Internet; I don't know anyone IRL who spanks their kids) tend to justify their choice by saying that "spanking is the only thing that works", but when you get further into it you find that they're expecting everything else they've tried (time-out, taking away privileges, whatever) to work almost instantly, and then when it doesn't, they say "See? That didn't work!" and go back to spanking. Which, meanwhile, also "doesn't work", when measured against the same standard.

I'm not saying this is true of all parents who spank -- just relating my personal experiences.

No method of discipline "works" right away. Discipline means teaching; teaching and learning take time. The big difference between many repetitions of redirection, time out, etc., and many repetitions of a smack on the hand or a wallop on the behind is that one is a physical assault and the other isn't. (Also, I don't think anyone ever learns anything of much value from being smacked. I know I didn't; what I learned was "don't get caught" :P.)

[deleted account]

Reasons not to spank

Spanking is hitting, and hitting hurts physically, emotionally and socially.

Hitting people is wrong - and children are people, too.

Children who are spanked are more likely to be aggressive. This can lead to other problems, like bullying.

Spanking can result in fear, not respect. A child who fears a parent may learn to hide behaviour and lie rather than trust that parent to guide and teach.

Spanking may get a quick reaction, but next time you may end up hitting harder. And when you're angry and stressed, it's easy to injure your child.

Spanking doesn't teach the right lesson. It shows a child that hitting is a way to solve problems.

[deleted account]

How can you not agree that hitting someone is causing harm???If you were to strike any other human in the same manner you would your child, you can be charged with assault.
I am not trying to offend you or anyone else who chooses to spank, but i think they do it because 1. they don't know any better, or 2. they don't try hard enough with the alternatives and give up then blame it on "their child is different and doesn't respond to the alternative".

JuLeah - posted on 09/10/2011




I think you are correct. If you toddler is playing on the sidewalk and bolts into the street, you might spank her to 'teach' her of the danger. Okay, so now she has been taught and you feel comfortable allowing her to play on the sidewalk while you run into take a shower.


A toddler is not able, lack of impluse control, lack of abstract thinking skills, short term memory ... to understand the danger; she can't really be taught - not yet

If you don't wish to spank, you might pick her up, tell her a firm no, and take her into the house, or the backyard -

She is having a good time with her game on the sidewalk, bolts into the street, and is removed from that play for a time ... does this teach her in that moment of the dangers? No - again, she is a toddler and I'd not really trust anyone under 8 in such a situation - but depends on the kid

So, years pass - she is now 8 and really old enough to understand - for 6 yrs she has been spanked OR for 6 yrs she has been removed/redirected/instructed

Which system is better?

Georgia - posted on 07/14/2011




You make a good point. However, I could ask why if taking away privileges is an effective punishment than why do we have to do that more than once? Or grounding? Or assigning chores? Haven't you been in that boat?

All kids are going to "test the waters" as they grow up. Its part of the process. Any form of discipline is only going to hold them in check for awhile.

I think its wise to spank rarely and there may even be some children who can be raised without it. My daughter years ago was one of those "good as gold" children who required little correction. On the other hand, both my youngest biological son (who has now grown up) and my stepson who is now 11 are kids who try to see how far they can push the boundaries. I think most parenting is learned by doing. It can't be taught well out of a book. Nor, do the experiences that other people have had with their children always help. That's simply because not only are kids different, but parents will relate to children differently as well.

My step son has been spanked twice since I married his father five years ago. Once for lying about where he had been earlier and once for showing me a huge amount of disrespect (he used a certain word that begins with a B when I demanded he clean his room). If I had to compare discipline methods, I'd say in his case spanking has worked better than other things we've done. I think in his case there was a lot of "shock value" to him being spanked over his dad's knee in his jockey shorts.

I know this: If we didn't think spanking helped we'd stop immediately. What we want are results.

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Lise - posted on 12/29/2011




If it worked, you wouldn't have to keep doing it. Punishment, by definition, works. Punishment, by definition, decreases the behavior. If my daughter screams and I implement a procedure (positive or negative punishment, whatever it may be) and she stops and does not engage in the behavior IN THE FUTURE, then the procedure I implemented was punishment. If I implement a procedure and she stops, but then engages in the behavior later on, then what I did was not punishment.

At work, I hear parents say things like, "I'm punishing my kid and it's not working" or "I'm using reinforcement and it's not helping." Both of those statements are impossible.

If you are spanking for OTHER behaviors, that is a different story (e.g., spanking a child for yelling, then spanking for hitting, then spanking for swearing).

Ruthie - posted on 12/29/2011




Needless to say, everyone views different forms of discipline in their own way. Alternative discipline and/or spanking can become abusive. It depends on the disciplinarian. Just because one uses alternative discipline does not mean the child won't grow-up to be abusive. I have observed parents that use alternative methods and others that have used the spanking method to no avail. I have observed children cursing at their parents, hit their parents and others, screamed at the top of their lungs and etc..

Whether others may or may not agree, this is how my husband and I raised our children. An alternative method was used twice and the third time our child was going to get popped on the bottom. We used our hand, it was over their clothes and they were firmly told that the act would not be tolerated again. Our children are now grown and have families of their own. They have opted to implement the same method of discipline that was implemented on them. My husband and I have never had to pop one of our grandchildren on the bottom, but if it had to be done..then bank on it...it would be done.

Merry - posted on 12/29/2011




There's a few things that under no circumstance do I tolerate happening to my children.

No one is to ever hurt them physically

Hurt them mentally

Hurt them emotionally

Hurt them sexually

And more I'm sure. But my point is, if no one is every allowed to hurt my child then I'm no exception.

Sure I'm their mom but moms have sexually abused their kids before, does that mean its ok to sexually abuse your kids if you're the mom?

No! Obviously.

So if I can't hurt them sexually, then I shouldnt hurt them physically or I'd be a bad example.

NO ONE will ever be allowed to strike my children.

NOT me, not my husband, not a grandparent, NO ONE.

They need to have a strong sense of right and wrong and is definetly wrong to allow anyone, no matter who, to physically injure or humiliate them.

Sherri, you spank, it works, your kids are fine. But shouldn't you not assume everyone is able to properly spank without damaging their child physically or emotionally?

I think that even though you have used spankings you might want to avoid standing up for spankings because someone might define spanking as '10 swats with a belt buckle to their butt naked child'

We can't be sure every parent spanks 'safely' so really, I think all moms should be advocating for parents to not use physical force on their kids so we don't accidentally pave the way to abuse.

Merry - posted on 12/29/2011




We don't! Lol that's a great question lol. I never understood so we simply discipline without physical force.

[deleted account]

If you can actually justify damaging a part of your child's body, thats really sad...

[deleted account]

I don't get why other methods work, yet people still feel the need to spank. If you can accomplish something without causing any harm, why not choose that method? Why resort to spanking when many positive alternatives exist. Literally thousands of parents rear healthy, happy, productive members of society without ever striking their children. I don't see any point in it at all.

[deleted account]

It doesn't work. Its a short term fix with no long term solution. If you spank a child, yea they WILL stop what they are doing... What does it teach them? That violence can be justified.

[deleted account]

if time out works, why do we do it? if telling a kid no works, why do we have to keep telling them no? if grounding works, why do we keep grounding? i would like to know from you-what works, all the time, 100% for your kids that you never have to do it again? for some kids different things work. i know i cant stand seeing any child putting hitting their own mom-who ironically, doesn't spank them. different strokes for different folks i guess.

Danielle - posted on 06/03/2011




I think most parents spank as a last resort.
I personally wouldn't spank for just any reason, and I wouldn't say it "works" in a learned situation.

I know for myself, unfortunately, I have sent a swat to my three year olds bum once or twice when he has really big meltdowns. It usually snaps him out of his mind frame long enough for him to calm down.
Now, don't get me wrong. I think I have only done this a handful of time, and it is always as a last resort.

I can't see spanking working in an everyday, every scenario situation... and absolutely not as first alternative vs. communication.

But back on topic, I think people spank because they need to feel in control.
Having children is the toughest job there is... sometimes that means a lapse in judgment, and sometimes that can make people blind. No one knows how to parent anymore. The family system has fallen apart. There is no longer "villages to raise a child".. there is usually one or two very financially, and sleep deprived parents with little family or emotional support.

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