Should children be spanked?

May 18, 2009 at 1:32 PM 11 comments

Diane and Peter on a boat in St. Maarten

On a boat in St. Maarten - Mom and son vacation continues to be a yearly priority, no matter how much harder I have to work.

Are you raising your child(ren) the same way you were raised? Spanking as a form of punishment is not like it used to be and if you are one of many raised by ‘the belt’, than you’re probably nodding your head. Most people will tell you stories about their childhood that make you cringe. Many parents today who experienced harsh forms of childhood discipline refuse to raise a hand to their children while others fall into the same pattern, with feelings of guilt after their actions.

As a product of a harsh disciplinary upbringing, I made a conscious decision not to spank. However, I am guilty of going against my will. On those rare occasions, I felt this uncontrollable urge that ended in spanking my son on the buttocks or on his arm. In the end, it left me feeling horribly regretful – even though it was nothing close to what I had endured as a kid.

For my child, my main choice for disciplinary action was through time-outs (1 minute per age) and it was by far more effective. Spanking brought on rebellion, anger and the urge for my child to hit me back.

For hours after those few times I spanked my son I remember my guilty conscious would get the best of me, keeping me up wondering why and how I can ensure I wasn’t a repeat offender. I often I asked myself, was the spanking (or yelling – a whole different animal) a part of my child’s misbehaving or was there something else lingering behind my actions (besides a natural instinct from my upbringing)? In most, if not all cases, it wasn’t my son’s misbehavior. The culprit was usually a bad day at work, a situation with a friend or family member, feeling lonely as a single parent and in need of a mommy break. The list of excuses can go on but in the end it was something else and my son was getting punished for it.

Parenting is never easy and it’s even more demanding when there is only one parent dealing with the day to day list of demands.  At the end of the day, I  look back and feel satisfied as a parent because I did something about my guilty conscious by trying harder each time to control my urges. My son is happy, treats his elders and everyone that comes in contact with him with respect, and has few memories (can count them in one hand) of spanking as a form of discipline and many memories of time well spent. I think that was the main secret, I spent a lot of time with him and we had a lot of fun.

So, don’t beat yourself up! If you’re reading this, you are obviously a GREAT parent who wants the best for your child(ren) and I commend you for that.

Here are sites that might help on this topic:

Why NOT to Spank

Time-Out Proponents / Time-Out Opponents (from one of my favorite sites,

On Spanking: Raising Children 1-3 and 3-6 at

If it’s your strong belief to use spanking as a form of discipline, here’s a helpful ‘How To’ guide:

Share your story and/or thoughts by adding a comment. Are you a single parent or step parent? Visit SP at for information on our publication.

Entry filed under: Adoption, boys, child rearing, children, discipline, kids, parent, Parenting, single dad, single father, single mom, single mother, single parent, single parenting, solo dad, solo parent, solo parents, spank, spanking, step parent, time-out, toddler. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Geffen Liberman  |  May 18, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    I like the above blog. I don’t ever think that it is okay to hit anybody. Think of it like this, if you were upset with your parents or your boss or spouse, would you hit them? Then why is it okay to hit a child. There is better ways that actually make sense and teach a lesson other than with fear. I do agree with the blogger, in that if you have “spanked”(a rationalizing word aimed at not sounding as bad as slapped or hit)your child, do not beat yourself up. The only way to go crazy is to judge yesterday’s actions with today’s information. Start finding new ways to do things beginning today. You will like yourself more and help your child learn as opposed to fear.

  • 2.  |  May 19, 2009 at 8:12 PM

    Geffen thank you for your response. Perfectly worded. 🙂

  • 3. chuckbert  |  May 20, 2009 at 4:48 AM

    How is it that this issue changed over time? What exactly has changed?

    To me, this issue is more about parents moralising than genuine concern for their child. They don’t want to be seen being barbaric, they don’t want their friends to know, or they feel adjunct towards their own parents.

    If spanking damages children so much, then what is wrong with the current and past generations of adults?

  • 4.  |  May 20, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Many adults who were ‘spanked’ are today in therapy, on anti-depressants or simply wallow in self-pity, depression, are very impatient, can be verbally or physically abusive, have inner anger, are alcoholics and/or drug addicts (the majority will blame it on their childhood spankings), and to extremes are murderers, gangsters, prostitutes, etc. Click here for info on a study done on how it can affect adults’ sex life.

    Many adults are OK and do not end in extreme situations but not everyone has a strong inner will to move past their childhood issues without ramifications. If we can do something about it by raising our children in a more effective manner without taking the risk of what we know can have adult side effects, why not?

  • 5. Tina Fortune  |  May 21, 2009 at 10:01 PM

    I occasionally spank and after wards would feel AWFUL. I really needed to read this article and must say thank you for changing my world view about spanking. No, I would not hit my boss or another adult. So why should I spank those little ones that can not defend themselves and love me with all their hearts? I used to spank according to age and on their behinds. Lately though as I’ve grown in my faith and matured as a parent, I’ve been disciplining more by “time-outs” and taking away privileges.

    This article is well thought, well spoken, well put together and offers conviction instead of condemnation. Thank you for evoking change in me.


  • 6. Taz  |  May 22, 2009 at 5:47 AM

    I believe that it’s okay to spank children, not beat them or abuse them but spank them. Sometimes people seem to lump all of them together and they are not the same. Now I don’t believe in spanking right from the start, however if after you have told your child on several occasions and they continue to disobey, then yes, spanking is okay. I think that education needs to take place before we get to correction.

    After having made that statement, each parent needs to know what type of punishment works for their child(ren). Since all children are different, spanking may not be the best approach. Some may only require a time out or the removal of a privilege. Each parent need to figure out what method(s) are most effective with their children and go from there.

    • 7.  |  May 26, 2009 at 12:28 PM

      Taz – you are absolutely right. All children are different and therefore punishment type should be chosen according to what works best. One form of discipline will not work for every child. In the end, the parent needs to feel confident with their decision in order to get the proper results. Thank you for your comment.

  • 8. Claudette Chenevert  |  May 27, 2009 at 9:18 PM

    Thank you first of all for your honesty in expressing something that is still so taboo today. I was spanked and at times my parents lost controled and I got bruised. I was terrible emotionally hurt in thinking that it’s what I deserved since my parents did this. I had to very violent and abusive relationships until I realized that I am better than this. It has been a long journey for me. I vowed never to spank my children, but one day I blew up and I hit them two or three times. I wanted to vomit. That was it.
    I took parenting classes to find alternative ways to deal with discipline. I’ve spent much of my adult life learning how to be a better parent and adult. The spanking left a deep scare on me but it also pushed me to explore alternatives.
    All children are different but I don’t see how spanking can really help them become better citizens of this world.

  • 9. karencurnow  |  June 10, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Should they be spanked…not as such but I don’t beleive a quick smack on the bottom hurts a child. It is an immediate message along with ‘no’ for a small child and if they are still in diapers it is surely more of a shock than anything.
    I don’t believe children should be harmed in any way. Growing up as an abused child was difficult. I gave my kids a little smack (or really a tap) to let them know they shouldn’t do something but never, never, hit them hard or beat them…that would be awful. And the one thing I also want to point out, if you tell a child firmly but calmly what you want (which should be first) rather than what you don’t want, they will ‘listen’ and respond more readily.
    I feel bad for children who are abused. It should never happen, but common sense tells us we are human and may lash out in the moment. So if that happens, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just try to remember your kid is not responsible for what you do……YOU ARE

  • 10. PDeverit  |  September 14, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

    Child buttock-battering for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

    Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

    I think the reason why television shows like “Supernanny” and “Dr. Phil” are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

    There are several reasons why child buttock-battering isn’t a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak,

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson,

    by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

    Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research on “spanking”.

    Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child buttock-battering isn’t a good idea:

    American Academy of Pediatrics,

    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,

    Center For Effective Discipline,

    PsycHealth Ltd Behavioral Health Professionals,

    Churches’ Network For Non-Violence,

    Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,

    Parenting In Jesus’ Footsteps,

    Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,

    United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    In 26 countries, child buttock-battering is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • 11. L-Boogie  |  March 5, 2010 at 3:49 AM

    Thank you for this blog. My son is 2 and today I spanked him (2 swats open handed on his bottom).
    I feel awful. I wasn’t in a bad mood or anything, it’s just that his tantrums drive me over the edge. He’s been that way since the day his was born (he was loudest screamer in the hospital when he was born)
    So far in his lifetime he has been spanked no more than 4 times all open-handed)
    I hate that I did this. I was abused as a child and I swore up and down I would never hit my child.
    I don’t want to be like my mom.
    Will my son forgive me?

    I do time outs and they work ( I have a rule that he has to sit in time out for at least a minute but if he gets up before then on his own I won’t get mad. On his own-my son usually sits for 2 minutes and then gets up when he has had enough of crying)

    I found the things that make me spank my child are usually relative to when I need him to walk (for example when it time to go in the house he will make his legs go limp , fall out on the floor and won’t move unless I carry him. I have a bad back and I can’t carry him anymore-I need him to walk. this is when i get frustrated because it hurts so much on my back just trying to get him in standing position when he goes limp. He’s done it when we were trying to cross the street with cars coming and he didn’t want to go. I had to carry him because I didn’t want us to get hit.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I don’t want spanking to be the routine in my house.


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