I Don’t Spank My Children

I’ve been struggling with spanking. I have never spanked my children, and I thought that I had a lot of parental company. Instead, I read again and again people who seem to believe their toddlers should be acting like 7-year-olds and then smack them on the behind when they are being toddlers.

Even “gifted children” aren’t going to have the self-control of an adult. And look at the adults? They don’t even have enough self-control to keep their hands to themselves.

Toddler thoughts:

You won’t give me back my toy! {hit}
You won’t give me a cookie! {hit}

Parent thoughts:

You won’t listen when I tell you not to touch the china! {spank}
You won’t stop taking that toy from your little brother! {spank}

Maybe that’s why corporal punishment found to be ineffective again and again. (source)

I understand that we can cross a line parenting. I have thought about hitting my children. I had a terrible temper growing up and into my twenties. I can still cut a person with a sentence. I just don’t actually attempt to cut them anymore.

But somehow spanking and slapping are put in another category by people — not related to temper and maturity.  Corporal punishment is acceptable with a few rules put in place?  I don’t understand it. And I don’t think it works.

Back in February 2011, a friend sent me a New York Times op-ed, The Parent Trapped, about the mom, Julie Schenecker, who murdered her teenager children “for being mouthy.” The author of the op-ed, Katherine Ellison, was unsettled when she read that the mom had been questioned by the police for slapping her daughter only a few months before the killing.  Because this author, like millions of other American parents, had slapped her own child despite study after that study showing corporal punishments increase violence and antisocial behavior in children, lead to more difficulty in the parent-child relationship as the child ages and is no more effective than other forms of punishment.

But what stood out to me the most was the author’s concern over how easy it is to move from spanking to slapping to ever-increasing violence.  At first, I was skeptical. I’m not a fan of the “slippery slope” theory: once we start, we will end up at the bottom surround by our murdered children.  However, a remarkable study in Pediatrics found that 30% of middle class families who engage in spanking or slapping will escalate into child abuse. (source)

The space between our voice and our hands is big. Or needs to be. Because I doubt that the parents, who starts out spanking, see themselves sliding into child abuse. Yet too many will.

The Pediatrics paper goes on to conclude that even if a person has no moral objection to corporal punishment and doesn’t see themselves becoming abusive, it is not necessary to spank because other forms of punishment are more effective.

And even if they worked equally well, why chose to raise a hand?  The same hands that we teach our children over and over to not raise against friend.

The lines that we draw in parenting are important. And the more often we cross a line, the less visible it is.

All relationships are like that. A marriage has lines. The line for flirting. For emailing. For calling. For bedding. An infidelity usually doesn’t start with sex. It starts with crossing a line again and again. Until the line is a cloud of dust. A blur. Is flirting infidelity? No. Maybe. When and where is that line?  Or more importantly, why do we have that line?

We all like to believe ourselves better than that. Strong enough to not go too far. But how often does infidelity occur in a home? How often does violence occur?  Intimidation?  Fear?

We should be building moats, not making up excuses as to why what we are doing is okay.

I love my children, and I know that the world can be a hard and angry place. I want to be a haven for them. A gentle place. I want to reflect love and tolerance back to them so they can carry that gift into the world.

I am very human in my ability to reach this place. I fall short. I falter. But I keep my lines very clear so I never fall too far.

Because the first person, from whom we need to protect our children, is ourselves.

If you wish to read the entire Pediatrics study, email me. I have a copy in .pdf form, but I’m probably not allowed to set up a download off my website.

If you ever find yourself in a crisis with your child and are at any time afraid of your temper or mood, please reach out to friends, family, local resources or call the confidential National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD for help.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

52 thoughts on “I Don’t Spank My Children

  1. Very interesting read. I guess the key is patience. But patience is a very hard virtue. I have 3 children under 5 and there are some days where I’m literally going crazy, sometimes punishing my 3 year old for being 3 becomes easier than just dealing with his problems. I like how honest and open you are on this topic and I agree, corporal punishment is not acceptable.

    1. Patience is so hard. Just yesterday, I yelled: MAMA JUST NEEDS YOU TO NOT ASK HER FOR ANYTHING FOR FIVE MINUTES. Um, my youngest is two… she’s supposed to struggle with getting dressed a lot of times. I felt bad and apologized. But not until the following day. Writing this made me think that I need to redraw some yelling lines as well. Since words hurt too. {sigh} It’s hard.

  2. I understand the temptation to spank, but only for parents whose line of reasoning stops at “well, my parents did it and I’m fine.” If a parent takes the time to think about what they are doing, you are forced to ask “Where else in my life is it ok to hit some (just a little)?” Some parents will respond that you can’t reason with a little kid and it is the only way to get through to them; I have to tell you there are a lot of times I feel like I can’t get through to my wife but I refuse to be the lame excuse for a man who hits his wife when he doesn’t get his way.

  3. If there wasn’t a more perfect morning for me to read this post. Thank you, again, Alex. This morning KG kept hitting the dog because she was angry at me – no matter how many times I told her not to hit him and that it wasn’t nice she kept doing it (3 times). Finally I slapped her hand and tried to teach her we don’t hit because it hurts and it’s not nice. Probably not my best parenting moment. *sigh*

    1. I’m so glad that you shared this though. I think that it’s so easy to get frustrated that they don’t understand how their actions affect others (especially an animal who is often more defenseless). I have to keep reminding myself that 1) they aren’t supposed to “put themselves in someone else’s shoes yet and 2) it’s hard for ADULTS to do that.

      I think that we take a deep breath, we apologize, we explain and if it’s a pattern, we ask for help.

      You’re a good mom. xoxo

  4. I seriously want to read that article. And I don’t think I know anybody who was spanked as a child – though I suppose maybe I just don’t know about people. I think of that as such an old-fashioned thing, that it doesn’t really happen anymore. Also? Just to make my comment a bit of the sketchy, as usual? I also would not spank my child because of… well… in the off chance that one day that becomes an “intimate” thing for them, I would prefer to have had no part in shaping that.

    (Told you it was going to get sketchy.)

    1. I thought that it was passé as well and was SHOCKED to find out that people still spank. I can’t even tell you how many blog posts I’ve read but even people in our community.

      I can email the article to you. The op-ed I linked to sited another study from a few years ago that stated 7 out of 10 Americans believe a kid sometimes just needs a “good, hard spanking”.

  5. I was also a “no spanking” parent. My reason proved itself when E was about a year old. I was trying to change his diaper, it was the end of the day, he was tired, my nerves were shot, he was crying and fighting me. I lost my temper and I slapped him on the leg-hip. I was immediately shocked and ashamed of my action. Naturally he cried more. I held him and hugged him and apologized over and over. I felt horrible. But the lesson to me was this: If, in losing my temper, I spanked my child, what would I have done if spanking were the norm?

  6. This is a fabulous post, thank you so much for sharing. It’s so hard to write about violence in discipline. When it comes to spanking – it’s too close to home for many people because it is still a socially acceptable way to discipline children… it makes it so very difficult to write or speak about without a lot of denial and defensiveness.
    It is a challenge to respond to children – who may be screaming unkind things and using their bodies to hurt you or others – in a kind, gentle, and even-handed way… but it’s a challenge that is so worth meeting. Otherwise, the cycle of violence continues.

    Sharing your article on Twitter.

  7. Hi Alex,

    I have been a parent now for almost twenty one years-from the time I was stupid and thought myself smart, to now when I am smarter but know how much I don’t know. Back then was also before it was the norm NOT to spank. I have over the years (especially early years) occasionally ended up spanking my kids and I think most of those times were when I was at the end of my rope and didn’t know what else to do, before I had other “tools” to cope with behaviour issues. I am not perfect, and I am sure I have done many things that one way or another have traumatised my kids over the years (as has every single parent).

    What I did want to add is that I think that at times emotional abuse can be a lot more debilitating than a few spanks. With a spank-kids can see it and realise what is going on (many kids these days know to tell their parent that they are going to call child protection services if their parent hits them). With emotional or verbal abuse, the damage is a lot more insiduous and harder for the kid to decipher. They internalise many of the “unworthy” messages the parents send them.

    And now I will shut up. 🙂

  8. Although we may disagree on spanking in general, I do agree with you that there is a fine line. If people find themselves using spanking as their only form of discipline or spanking in a fit of rage, it can cross the line. Do I spank? Yes. Do I ever do it hard enough to even leave a mark? No. And we use timeout and distraction more than any other form of discipline. As parents of toddlers, we can’t expect for them not to act like toddlers. It’s for that same reason that I hate the phrase “terrible twos.”. They’re not terrible, they’re normal. Our job is to teach them discipline and use consistency – whatever method you may choose. And, we have to be careful that we don’t judge others for choosing a different discipline method. Just because a parent uses spanking doesn’t make them abusive and just because a parent chooses not to spank doesn’t mean his/her children will be “rotten.”

    Also, I’m curious to know how many children who weren’t spanked may have felt abused in other ways. Physical abuse is not the only type of abuse going on behind closed doors. My mom spanked me and I’ve never felt abused by her. But other adults were verbally abusive in my life and never laid a hand on me. And those harsh words are the things that I still struggle with when it comes to my self worth and self esteem – not when I was spanked. Just a thought.

    1. Very well put. I totally agree with everything you just said. I do believe there is a time and place for spanking. I agree with you that you still use all kinds of other methods of discipline before spanking. And so true that verbal abuse can be just as bad if not worse sometimes as physical spanking.

  9. Oh! I had written this in-depth, comprehensive comment in response to your fabulous post… and then I 404ed it. Bah! I’ll try again later…

  10. in my family i’m surrounded by spankers. my sisters are evangelical christians who believe it is their duty; i think i may have blogged the story of my oldest sister’s experience. when her now-27-year-old son was a toddler he was “willful”, and they spanked him but it had no effect. the pastor’s advice was, “hit him harder. he has to cry.” so that’s what they did, and it “worked.” they followed this same strategy with their other 4 children. today they are all young adults, all saved, and they talk about my sister and her husband openly as the best parents in the world. and they are, indeed, extremely warm, loving, focused parents whose top priorities are clearly the kids and each other. but two of the kids also have serious mental illness; what is the connection among all these variables? who knows?

    i read a study not long ago that found spanking to be far less detrimental to african-american children and white evangelical children. the reason was that spanking is such an entrenched part of the parenting culture in these groups that it doesn’t carry a stigma and children see it as perfectly normal, rather than aberrant. i think it’s a complicated issue. i don’t spank my kids, but that doesn’t mean i’ve never manhandled them in anger or frustration. and when i was a kid, i often wished my parents would just spank me, rather than subject me to days of the silent treatment (my mom), or public, drunken shamings (my stepmother). we’ll see what my kids say when they’re adults…

    1. I have a hard time seeing it as complicated. Exceptions maybe. But even the study that you mentioned didn’t say it had good outcomes — just that spanking was less detrimental because of cultural acceptance. There are many cultures where something is culturally acceptable which I imagine causes less harm in a superficial way but isn’t right.

      And I would wonder if your mom and stepmom would have been able to control themselves at “just spanking” since they struggled so much with their emotions.

      1. well, you’re right about that last point, the couple of times my mom did spank me could only be called “spankings” with accompanying air-quotes and would totally have gotten her arrested if anyone had ever seen them. maybe complicated isn’t the right word–because it seems like simple common sense that you don’t use hitting to discourage bad behavior. i guess i mean that context plays a role. i have friends who spank, and some of them are, in my opinion, really good parents with really good kids. others are clearly making a bad situation worse. either way, i’d rather not go there.

  11. I have never fully understood why anyone would want to engage in a parenting “technique” with a child which is an exhibition of behavior that is completely and totally unacceptable as an adult.

    This also goes for parents who tell their children to “shut up,” and other similarly inappropriate phrases. If you would not say or do the same thing to an adult in a public setting, you can guarantee that it’s not an appropriate thing to teach a child.

    So many parents use knee-jerk responses to make parental decisions. They really need to remember that they aren’t raising kids, they’re raising ADULTS.

    Great job, Alex. 🙂

  12. Wow. Very well said. I remember when I was growing up, my cousins were not only spanked, but also whipped with a belt as punishment. Seriously!!! It terrified me. (The parents did not turn to abuse- unless you count that as abuse- and my cousins are now normal 20-somethings and have good relationships with their parents.) Anyway, I’m thankful that my parents did not use corporal punishment on me, and I love your thoughts on the issue.

    1. When I have had my worst parenting moments, and wished I could delete my entire verbal outburst to my children, I have been either tired, angry, afraid or resentful.

      What I’ve learned? That spanking and harmful verbal outbursts are usually a “reactive” behavior, rather than a “proactive” behavior. I was reacting emotionally to a situation, and usually a frustrating situation, at that.

      A great mentor taught me that we can reprogram ourselves to replace spanking or harmful words with a time-out (for ourselves!), and not use so many “reactive” behaviors. Giving myself a breather, and time to think of a better way to teach my child, rather than punish her, has worked for me.

      Do I still make mistakes? Absolutely. I’m human. But do my “proactive” teaching moments outnumber my “reactive” emotional moments 10 to 1? You better believe it.

      And that has made all the difference.

    2. Here’s my hypothesis: 1) I think that it depends on how the punishment was treated 2) I think that it depends on how the children were treated other times 3) The desire to have a relationship with our parents is very very strong.

      FYI: Liz didn’t mean here comment to be a reply so I’m going to repost it as a regular comment.

  13. This is so important! My husband was spanked (and I would say worse, but he wouldn’t go there) and his elementary school used corporal punishment. He will not raise a hand to our girls, knowing that no violence is controlled and the line between ‘teaching’ and hurting is too thin. This is not a passé issue. It’s hidden and that makes it more dangerous.

    I am not a perfect mama. It’s easy to get frustrated and angry. I spanked once. And it scared the bejesus out of me. I think often abut how I use my voice too. Not just yelling, but am I provoking shame or fear? That’s not who I want to be.

    1. Kate, that’s wonderful that your husband is stopping that cycle. My dad had the same experience, and he refused to spank me for anything because he saw from his own father how far it could go. I think my mom spanked me once, and neither she nor I remembers why– she decided it wasn’t for her, either. So I didn’t grow up with it, and it seems crazy to me to try to spank my kids. I have been at the frustrated-beyond-belief stage, where I feel like my head might actually explode at any moment, but never have I thought that if I hit my kids, it would get better. I’m also kind of shocked that it’s as common as it is today.

  14. I’m going to break with the popular response and say that I was spanked as a child, and I do (in extreme situations) spank our girls.
    I understand completely the argument that it’s hypocritical to tell our kids not to hit, and then we spank them. But a lot of what parents do is hypocritical (don’t eat junk food, don’t watch so much TV, don’t cuss – do as I say, not as I do is still a common attitude). Yes, I realize that those aren’t in the same vein, but the hypocrisy is the same.
    I have never spanked our girls in an out-of-control fit of rage with the intent to hurt them. When I get that angry and start shaking? I walk away until I am calm enough to return to the situation. It’s not my first choice for punishment. I use several other techniques, and reserve spanking for extreme situations.
    That said, I know my opinion is not popular. I know people think that it causes their children to fear them and they won’t feel comfortable confiding in them. I was never afraid of my parents. But I also understood that they were my parents – they were in charge. They were not my friends; they were there to keep me safe, love me and teach me. I learned that actions had consequences, and spanking was the consequence to certain violations. I was also not spanked as a first line of defense, nor was I ever really hurt, though it did sting for a minute – enough to get my attention.
    While I don’t advocate spanking, I also understand why some people choose to include it as part of a discipline approach. Let the criticism commence…

    1. I’m right there with you and enjoyed your response.

      Here is one thing I don’t understand though and it’s a point you hit on. (No pun intended…haha). I don’t understand the argument that children shouldn’t be fearful of their parents. I’m not saying that children should be scared of their parents but I think a healthy fear is actually a good thing. And, you don’t have to use spanking solely to encourage that healthy fear.

      I think children should have a “healthy” fear of their parents reactions to their actions. In the same way that as an adult you have a healthy fear that if you don’t do your job that you will be fired. In the same way that I have a healthy fear of the consequences of my actions. My parents instilled that healthy fear in me through discipline of all kinds – spanking, grounding, taking away of privileges, and even just a disappointed look.

      I hear a lot of people use the “I don’t want my children to fear me,” as an excuse for not spanking. And, I kind of think that’s ridiculous. I want my children to be fearful of what might happen if they screw up – not just my reaction but the reactions of others and even more severe consequences. And I think the first way to introduce that is through discipline – no matter what the style of that discipline may be.

      1. The idea that fear is a healthy motivator (or a true motivator at all) is probably where our first divergence is. I don’t believe that fear is an effective way to encourage anyone to obey laws, go to work or listen. Not only has that been found through studies of laws (like is the death penalty a deterrent), but, for me, it comes down to my faith. I don’t do good and strive to do the next right thing because I am afraid of God and his wrath. I do it because I love God so much that I want to reflect that love into the world.
        I parent by example and by love. I parent my faith. And even my discipline is not to make my children afraid. It is to teach my children or to keep them safe.

        1. I see your point and totally agree that our first motivation as Christians should be because we love God and want to project that love into the world. But, if I said I didn’t have any fear whatsoever of what consequences may come if I do something wrong, I would be lying.

          Also, I get back to one of your initial points of realizing that toddlers are going to act like toddlers, not seven year olds. Further, seven year old are going to act like seven year olds not teenagers; and teenagers are going to act like teenagers, not adults. Children don’t have the critical thinking skills to think, “OK, I’m going to not touch that piece of China (or fight with my sibling, or sneak out of the house, etc. etc.) because I love my parents and I don’t want to disobey them.” Isn’t there some study out there that says that we don’t develop full critical-thinking skills until we’re 21 or something? (Something I’ve heard but never verified.) They have to have an immediate consequence for their action. I guess that’s what I mean by a “healthy fear.” Just a knowing that there is going to be a consequence for doing something wrong – and like I said, I don’t think spanking has to be that consequence. If people chose to use it that’s fine, but as long as there is some other type of immediate consequence, I think the point gets across.

          So long story short, I think we agree with each other more than we realize, we just have a different way of wrapping our brains around it. And, that’s probably because you’re smarter than me, Alex!! 🙂

          1. I agree. I don’t know how to explain what I mean very well, but healthy fear is what I intend as well. I didn’t want to use the word respect because I think you earn that.
            Basically, I think a lot of people treat kids like they are equals when they should treat them like kids. Not that they should discount them or anything, but when I was a kid, I would never have talked back to an adult, especially a stranger. I can’t tell you how many times rude kids have sassed me – in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant or something, and I’ve nicely asked them to stop doing something that was negatively affecting me, and they’ve given me the “You’re not the boss of me” routine. No, I’m not, but I am an adult, and as such, you should mind me, be a little intimidated, be remorseful that you’ve done something that earned a reprimand!
            That sounds like I’m on a power trip, but I think you know what I mean. There’s no fear or respect or whatever you want to call it of adults because there’s no authority linked to maturity anymore. I’m not saying you have to spank your kids to instill that, but that’s the kind of thing I mean by healthy fear.

        2. I don’t spank. I used to, but realized that it simply does not work for me or my children. Proper communication is far more effective (along with a few extra chores which allow a child time to meditate on their actions). Two way conversation, more discussion, less lecturing. A conversation which engages a child’s critical thinking skills and teaches them to solve their problems.

          Anyhow. Getting to the point of this reply.

          The above post made me think. To me, fear is an excellent motivator. But I’m not talking about the fear of a butt whooping or pain, I’m talking about the fear of failure or the fear of disappointing someone you care about. But it’s a little more complex than that. That fear cannot exist in a vacuum.

          Here’s the big difference that the “pro-spank crowd” isn’t getting. The motivator here is not really fear…it’s acceptance. When we’re seeking to avoid failure or disappointment, what we’re really striving for is acceptance and appreciation and love and success. Spanking is not an effective method for instilling that motivation.

          It’s healthy to want to avoid failure and disappointment while on the path to success. Failure and disappointment makes us work harder to achieve success. It makes success that much sweeter. Spanking, however, does not fit anywhere into that feedback loop, because it has no real life application past childhood. It’s never going to be the correct answer to a real life problem.

          If we as parents want to teach our kids to navigate and be successful in the real world, we have to use real world tools.

          Enough of my rambling. Thanks for listening.

    2. I would say that 1/3 of the people here find your choice to be acceptable or at least feel ambivalent about it (and 7 out of 10 Americans). And although people may disagree with you on my site, no one would ever shame or attack you personally. (I make sure of that.)
      I guess that I see a difference between hypocritically and things that are reserved for adults with adult judgment (cursing or choosing how much television to watch).
      I admire that you put a lot of space between your angry moments and your spanking. And I appreciate the thoughtfulness and honesty of your comment.

      1. Thanks for your response. My favorite part of the blogging world is being able to dialogue about big issues and finding a respectful platform on which to do it is key. It’s another reason I love to spend time on here with you!

  15. I don’t hit my kids, but man there have been times I’ve wanted to give them a smack. Those times are usually when I’m mad. The smack would probably make me feel better for a moment. A moment.

    Also, there have been times I’ve wanted to smack my husband, however, that’s against the law. See how that works? Hitting a person is against the law, but hitting someone whose feet don’t reach the pedals and happen to live in your house isn’t. Unless you hit too hard, or too much. So some hitting of the kids is o.k. Wait, what?

    Personally, I agree with you, I don’t see the merit in corporal punishment.

    Another thing: love doesn’t hurt. I don’t want to teach my kids that violence at home “is normal” and acceptable.

    Great post.

  16. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you. I love the line “The space between our voice and our hands is big.”
    I’ve been surprised as of late to find out a number of people I know spank… when I thought it was such old school parenting… I just don’t get it. I understand being so angry that you want to hit someone. I’ve been there. But that’s when you need to take yourself out of the situation and breathe. I think that’s what needs to be taught, that the urge is real, and it will happen, but the action which you take speaks louder than the urge.

  17. Ugh. If I were okay with spanking, I’d be running one scary household, because there are SO MANY times when I am just losing it. I was spanked often as a child, and it NEVER changed to root of my behavior, it only made me angry. I have always been anti-spanking, and yet it seems like human instinct pulls me in the other direction. There have been many times when I squeezed an upper arm too tightly or swooped him up too forcefully. I feel sick every time. There have been many apologies to my son, but I can still say that I have never intentionally spanked my child or used spanking as a legitimate consequence, “If you do that one more time you will get a spanking…” This was said to me as a child, and it often invoked more rebellion, as if to say, “f-ing spank me, then”. Now, if I can just figure out how to stop yelling…

  18. I admittedly struggle with my temper.

    I was spanked as a kid, but not often. The threat was there always though. If we got spanked it was because we were bad ON PURPOSE.

    I don’t spank. I have slapped Eddie’s little hand maybe twice and felt instantly bad.

    Even with my lack of patience and bad temper, I have to consciously remind myself he is a little boy…a toddler…who just doesn’t know or needs attention and doesn’t know another way to get it.

    When I am at the end of my rope, I use a time out for him. Yes he hollers, but more out of “I don’t want to sit here” and not because he is hurt.

    Because of the stupid PPD I have my rage issues are terrible and I have found that instead of hitting, I want to yell at him. This can be just as damaging, I am afraid.

    I have yelled, “PLEASE JUST SHUT THE HELL UP” at my baby.

    Thankfully meds have helped and I am able to not do this anymore.

    My point?

    I agree with you. If we don’t want our kids to hit, we can’t hit. If we don’t want our kids to yell, we can’t yell.

    If we want to raise kind, tender adults, we have to be kind and tender.

    Isn’t that what Jesus said anyway? Teach them by being like me? Lead by example?

    I don’t remember Jesus smacking anyone.

    1. I, like you, have to consciously remind myself of what my children’s abilities and aptitudes are and remember that I am their first and most important model. But we are human and will always fall short — I have to remind myself of that as well. And I am grateful to have learned how to apologize, too.

  19. I was spanked…or so my Mom tells me, but I don’t remember it. But I do have a vivid memory of my Mom losing it and beating my sister (just once, and my Mom broke her hand, never did she lay a hand on any of us again)…can’t say my sister didn’t deserve it though. My husband was spanked and worse and he has vivid memories, though he claims he deserved it every time.

    The only time we spank or hit a hand is when the result of the behavior would actually end in them getting hurt..ie: touching the oven, playing with an electrical cord, climbing a bookcase. My thought on this is, a smack on the hand is going to hurt less than electrical shock…and be less devastating. Also, we only smack the hand or the bottom once. But hitting a sibling, throwing blocks, temper tantrum these equal time outs. It is so hard to parent and know if one is doing the right thing. And I can see how it would be easy to slippery slope, if one hits purely out of anger and frustration.

    I read an article in parenting magazine on how to stop yelling….and I use those techniques daily…they also help in realizing that your child is acting their age. Just saying while said sweet adorable miscreant is smashing bananas into your carpet, “Wow, your acting 2!” Helps me to diffuse my anger. It helps me realize that they are just experimenting boundaries, textures, and cause and effect. (you can see my blog about my AH-Ha moment after reading the article @ http://spiceymom.blogspot.com/2011/05/spicey-mom-be-ballor-something-like-it.html)

    I have a friend who does not spank because she was spanked as a kid and has such horrible memories of her mother doing it. Discipline is the hardest most challenging thing as a parent. How to know what is right, what is too much, what works for each particular kid and you. Spanking or hitting my kid, how few times that is always, always leaves me feeling guilty….but so does yelling at them. However, rule number one is to not call names, but yell at behavior. “I dislike it when you hit your sister, it makes me sad, and of all people you are supposed to be kindest to her.” None of us are perfect parents, all of us make mistakes, Alex, I love your honesty, I love that you have drawn a clear line for yourself. And being home with one’s children all day is especially trying. I once called my Mom to ask if it was okay not to like my child sometimes. She answered way to quickly, “Absolutely”. My mom is one of my best friend’s the person I can go to about anything. The person I confide in…I try to parent just like her…(I think she did a great job:) I always love them, I just don’t always love what they do:)

    1. I really wanted to read the post that you linked to in here but it’s not coming up (even though I can access your blog directly)… is the url right?

      Also thank you for your comment and this sentence: “None of us are perfect parents, all of us make mistakes, Alex, I love your honesty, I love that you have drawn a clear line for yourself.” It made me tear up.

  20. I was a spanked child – hardly ever. Before my son, I didn’t think much about the no spanking argument because I turned out fine. But once I was pregnant and had my beautiful baby – I read the articles, the research, the blogs (one of your previous posts included) and I changed my mind.

    I want to be able to say I don’t spank because I have found other discipline methods that build character and work better. I want to teach my child that violence is not an OK reaction – and I have to model that myself. Most of all, I want to be proactive. Most misbehavior can be avoided if you can pinpoint the function – purpose and context – of the behavior (I teach this to teachers to help them with classroom management). Know your child, know the triggers, pick your battles, adapt.

    Obviously it’s easier said than done – especially the days he thinks smacking me in the face is an appropriate way to protest or get my attention – and doesn’t seem to catch on to “Tell Mama what you need and I will help you. We don’t hit.”

    Deep breaths and a heaping dose of patience certainly help – have they created a pill for the latter yet?

  21. Gifted children tend to have emotional age of less than their actual age so that doesn’t surprise me. There is this neighbor who uses a belt as a leash for her child. It’s disturbing to me. Makes me wonder what else happens in that house. Children need hugs, not hits.

  22. … and striking out verbally is just as bad.
    Belittling a child takes away their self worth, how do we respond in an argument when someone tries to take the wind out of our sails?
    Usually with anger …
    Yes, lets protect our children, I for one, need to remind myself to breath, or walk away, or take a Mommy timeout – and thats a sad truth.

  23. Kids under a certain age are kinda like drunken midgets. I draw the line at stuff that can kill them or hurt them. Run out into the street? You’re gonna get spanked. I’m not talking about a “No More Wire Hangars!!” raging rant. A stout smack at the time of the event to get the point across. Once they’re in school and Kindergarten has broken their will to resist social pressure the corporal gives way to the emotional, reasoning, persuasion that most of us pictured when we were going to be parents.

    Currently my daughter has a Mom that swings at the least provocation. At everyone. So daughter has been known to deliver a slap across the face if Dad says “Fuck”. Or if her feelings get hurt. Whatever. Now the shoe’s and the other foot. Huh? I reply to this with “Violence never solves anything.” What now?

  24. You know what I’ve found? There are times when you need a serious punishment that is swift and memorable. You need something that grabs their attentions and says “I mean business” and timeouts or taking a toy away just doesn’t cut it.

    I’m not saying spanking is good or bad or the right way to punish your child, but I wish there was another way to say “I mean business” the way that a spanking does. One that didn’t involve physicial contact with a childs rear (or anything else for that matter).

    Something is missing.

  25. I’m nearly 40 and still remember being afraid of my mom when I was growing up. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was mouthy but I was bullied a terrible lot, verbally and sometimes physically at school (back in the late 70’s and early 80’s when ‘suck it up’ was the advise given by school and ‘ignore it and it will go away’ was the advise at home)- so still mouthy but probably some of it was stress I brought home. Anyhow- my mom always told me she would rather I come to her with an issue than lie.. but coming to her meant getting hit just as much with a hand or an object at hand (spoon, riding crop, ruler, etc) as when I lied.. so I often chose to lie to try to avoid getting hit and screamed at for as long as possible. When I was 12 or 13 she would hit me in the face. By the time I was 14 or 15 I started blocking myself and pushing her hand/fist back at her and she finally stopped.

  26. Ps- My husband and I have just actively begun our attempts to foster parent with hopes of adopting so.. .not a mom yet but I work with small children who often have behavioral issues. Anyhow- no plans to spank or hit. Why teach violence as an acceptable means of getting ones way? My husband still hits our dogs occasionally for small things though I’ve taught him better ways to deal with small infringements like barking too much or peeing on the rug (praise for guarding the house then redirect them, and a time-out in the bedroom alone, respectively, work wonders!) . I don’t want to hit someone for having an opinion or expressing an emotion.

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