7 Reasons We Don’t Spank

stepping up to the microphoneThese controversial posts always make me nervous. Mostly because it’s hard to have these kind of conversations when you’re not sitting with the other person, relaxed on the couch or on a big comfy chair at Starbucks.

There are bound to be disagreements. Some people might take what I have to say personally, emotionally. Yet still, I feel like it is important to write these things. After publishing, I will hesitate – a little knot in my stomach.

But you know what? I am always SO glad after I publish and the comments start rolling on. Because I really do wish people would talk about the hard things, that we could have these deeper discussions in a respectful manner.

So, today I venture into this terrifying territory once again – to share my heart.

Today, I am sharing why my husband and I choose NOT to spank. I should emphasize here that I am not presuming to know what is best for your family. I am simply sharing what we do and why we choose to do it that way.

Below are seven reasons we choose not to spank:

1. Spanking teaches the wrong lessons. My husband and I have thought about it and talked about it and thought about it some more. And no matter how hard we try, we always come back to what spanking really teaches: “If you do something wrong, I am going to hit you.” I don’t like that message. At all. In fact, I don’t want my kids to ever see me hitting – them or anyone else. That is not an appropriate or healthy way to treat another human being. Regardless of age or stature.

2. Spanking doesn’t teach the right lessons. Kids who are spanked may indeed be well-behaved. It may seem to “work” on the outside, but it doesn’t deal with the heart of the matter. Kids who are spanked learn “if I do ACTION ABC, then I get spanked so I better not do that again…or, at least, I better not get caught doing that.” Spanking doesn’t address the real issue or give positive alternatives. It doesn’t encourage kids to think for themselves.

3. Spanking takes advantage of a child’s stature. Kids are little. Adults are big. So adults tend to use their “advantage” to attempt to force children into their way of thinking – instead of modeling, discussing, letting natural consequences occur, etc. In a sense, it devalues kids. It assumes that kids aren’t smart enough to be given boundaries and to learn from their mistakes.

4. Spanking undermines the parent/child relationship. As mentioned above, spanking may appear to “work” when children are very young, but I think that – overall – hitting produces bitterness and erodes the firm foundation of love and security that the parent/child relationship should be built on.

5. Spanking is, too often, done out of anger. We know a couple who chooses to spank their kids who manage to do it unemotionally, without screaming or shaking. But they are the exception. In fact, I think they are the only couple we have ever met who are able to separate their anger from the spanking process. Most parents spank rashly, out of frustration: “don’t you dare speak to me like that!!!” (whack, whack, whack). Which leads me to my next point…

6. Spanking can lead to abuse. People who spank get used to hitting. If it isn’t working, they might spank harder or give more swats. If a child is stubborn, the parent might exert more force. The reality is that child abuse is a very real thing. According to Childhelp, a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the USA (and that’s just what is reported). Almost five children die everyday in our country as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4. And you know what? I’m not okay with that. We shouldn’t live in a world like that. Maybe all spanking isn’t abuse, but a lot of it is. And the simple fact that so many children are abused – every day, every second – should certainly make us all pause and consider the implications of our actions.

7. Spanking is bad for adults. Violence is never becoming. It is frightening. For the one being hit and the one doing the hitting. When I even consider the possibility of hitting my child (which I have never done, by the way) – if I get that picture in my head – it scares me. Because that is not who I am. That is not who I want to be. I want to parent with grace, with forgiveness, with gentleness. Does that mean that I will let my kids run wild and do whatever they want? No. It just means that I will choose not to exert physical pain on anyone – particularly little children, particularly MY children who mean the world to me.

Because here’s the thing. I make a lot of mistakes. Every day. I’m not always the most “well-behaved” person. But when I mess up, I don’t get hit or slapped. When a friend or my spouse does something appalling or embarrassing, I don’t smack them around. So, why would I do that to someone who is small – a child, the most vulnerable among us? Well, I wouldn’t. I don’t. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

NOTE 1: For more information on this topic (including why “hitting is actually not Biblical”…), read Dr. Sears’ excellent article, “10 Reasons Not to Hit your Child.”

NOTE 2: This post primarily outlined what we don’t do. Stay tuned for some of our thoughts on positive parenting practices…

Image credit: flickr, brtsergio‘s photostream

Comments

  1. Jill J says

    great post! I like the last paragraph. That’s what my mind was thinking the entire time… when I mess up, I don’t get spanked! When another adult messes up in my presence (like my husband), I don’t spank him. Thanks for being brave enough to put this in writing!

  2. says

    We don’t spank but I won’t speak in absolutes that we will never. I wanted to spank a child who wasn’t mine once – he had been playing in the street, almost was hit by a car, and laughed as I took him back to his mother. Out of fear and a desire to communicate how serious that was, I might have spanked him if he was my own. He was not and I had no right to do anything more. It would require an extreme situation for us to spank and even then I hope we find another way to communicate with our children.

    I don’t completely dismiss those who spank but as you said so few are able to separate it from anger.

    We also try not to yell – but I am less successful at that. I used to have a sign in my office that said “Trying to control your child’s behavior by yelling is like trying to steer your car with the horn.”

  3. Erin T says

    The most important part of discipline is to do it with consistancy. I do spank my children, but I do not do it in anger. There is a proper way to spank. If I am angry I will usually send my child to time out or his room. First of all my children know that is was their choice to disobey. I always give a warning and let them know that if they choose to continue they will choose disapline! It is not becasue Mommy and Daddy want them to. Then we go in a private place (siblings or others do not need to be involved) it is not about embarrassing the child. We talk, they receive one spanking, and then we pray!!!! They almost always hug me at the end. I will say I have boys and they are 100% boys! They do not sit for long! Just using time out or talking to them would not work for my children.
    I also do not believe that spanking leads to abuse. If you are an abusive person you will probably abuse you child. Loss of control and anger management issues lead to abuse not spanking. I will not give that excuss to someone who abuses their child. Don’t forget their is also verbal abuse and that has nothing to do with spanking.
    I believe every parent as a couple needs to decide how they are going to discipline their child. They should also seek mentors. Find someone who you look at and say, “Wow! I hope my kids turn out as good as their did” Ask them to mentor you. God never planned for you to be alone in this process!

  4. erica says

    We have thought through those same issues and talked through them even more (it’s a continuous conversation), and most of the time we do not spank.

    Occasionally, however, we have decided that something warrants a spanking (for various reasons, but generally because other methods of discipline and teaching have not been successful). We never do it out of anger, though; it is a carefully executed decision made out of love and the desire to teach our children. A spanking in our household is always accompanied by a talk about why the child received a spanking (when they’re old enough they get to do the explaining so that we know they really got the lesson). It always finishes with hugs and I-love-yous afterwards so that the kids know what is most important.

    I know it’s a controversial decision, and we re-enter the conversation about it often to make sure we’re doing what’s best for that particular child. I may never know if it was best or not, but we’re doing what we think is best and it is always intentional, purposeful, and loving.

  5. M.J. says

    I don’t feel strongly about spanking, but I do disagree with Dr.Sears’ explanation of why spanking is unbiblical. He did a great job of defining the word “rod”, but he left out any explanation of the word used for “discipline” in Proverbs 23:13-14.

    My Amplified Bible uses the words “strike” and “beat”. Strong’s concordance says the Hebrew word “nakah” is used in these verses, meaning “to strike lightly or severely…”. This actually makes more sense of the line that it won’t kill the child if you “discipline” him. In any case, whether one chooses to spank or not, the Bible really does seem to recommend physical discipline.

  6. says

    Good for you for giving your opinion on such a touchy subject. I’m not for spanking either. I want my kid to learn the true difference between right and wrong. I don’t want him to not do something strictly because I’ll hit him if he does it.

  7. Csixberry says

    I don’t spank a lot, I try not to because I don’t really think it helps. My husband does the spanking if it needs to be done. He tells me I have to be more firm with them but it is hard for me. I never grew up with much discipline and have no way to judge how much or little I should punish them for something. My mother had anger issues and would often go overboard with us, so I always feel like I am being to harsh with them even if I’m not. My 4 year old will hardly ever do anything I ask her and my husband says it’s because I always just give her what she wants so she won’t cry so when we don’t give her what she wants she throws a very large tantrum. I just don’t know what to do because she is so stubborn and strong willed. I have tried taking away things like favorite toys and movies but she doesn’t care. If I put her in time out she doesn’t care and spanks really don’t affect her. Sometimes I feel at the end of my rope with her, my 2 year old is much better and will even help me clean up their toys and stuff, something my 4 year old will hardly ever do. Even after threats of throwing the toys away my 4 year old will just agree and say do it. One time she even went and got the garbage bag. So I am looking forward to hearing things that work for you maybe they will help me out.

  8. Erin T says

    Dr. Sears and the rod! I have heard that the Biblical mean of rod is a stick that guides the sheeps. If you look at the Shepherd he steers the sheep in the right direction with the rod. He will also snap the sheep with it if the sheep continues to go the wrong direction. We should also do this with our children. We only spank to bring them back to the right direction. It is to keep them from going atsray. And one more note. I know this is my second comment, but I had to add that a person who spanks correctly IS NOT HITTING their child. There is a big difference!

  9. Casual Friday Every Day says

    We’ve spanked before. All it does is make the situation worse. Most always we put our children in time out. And often I like to speak to them about why they upset or let me down, instead of punishing them. But don’t get me wrong, when the situation warrants a time out or a toy being taken away, that happens.

    Nell

  10. Michele says

    Wow…this is a touchy subject. It’s a great post and there are some really great comments in response to it. I think that it’s wonderful that you are so open with how you parent your children.

    I too am looking forward to your future post about postive practices parenting practices.

  11. says

    Thanks for this. And I really respect Dr. Sears. We don’t spank, for many of the reasons you outline above. It just doesn’t make sense to me why’d you actually “teach” someone to hit by hitting them. But also…I have an anger problem and have been known to get destructive when I’m in a fit of rage. So I’m not going to even open the door to loosing it on one of my kids by spanking in the first place.

  12. says

    We don’t spank either – for many of the reasons that you said. I feel that there are much better ways to discipline and as a graduate of a Child, Youth, & Family program – I know research does not support spanking either.

  13. Mary says

    Love it!

    We do not spank, and I simply think it is wrong, for all the reasons you so clearly gave. I cannot stand it when people use the Bible to defend spanking. I just always wonder, can they really imagine Jesus spanking a little child? The God I believe in would not touch anyone, especially a child, in a way that would cause physical pain and fear.

    And if spanking is not hitting, what exactly is it?

    Thanks for the brave post!

  14. says

    I appreciate this post. We do spank, but like you pointed out there are many who do it improperly. I agree with some of the other comments too – spanking isn’t our first or only method of correction. I really don’t like spanking so I am looking forward to your post about what you do for discipline.

  15. says

    I agree with you. We try not to spank, we use time outs and taking privileges away.
    I have to admit I have spanked before and really, I don’t think it works well. I also feel bad if I spank. It is a touchy subject. Thanks for your honesty and forthrightness. (I think that is a word,right!) Or maybe I should say, just putting your opinion out there.

  16. says

    Well of course I completely agree with every reason you mentioned above and we do NOT spank and never will. I cannot even fathom it. I could never hit/strike/spank/physically punish (whatever you want to call it) my child – never ever. I completely agree with Mary’s comment from above as well! I hate when people use the Bible and God to defend doing so. The God I also believe in would never do such a thing, especially to a little child.

    Plus it’s just nonsensical to me…All they learn is that when they do something “bad” they get spanked…so what are you teaching them? That when someone does something you don’t like, you hit them. Then they get in trouble for hitting…It’s hypocritical, makes no sense, and it creates fear (and possibly some resentment) in a relationship that should be built on safety and love. I don’t think you ever strike/spank/whatever someone out of love. Again, nonsensical to me.

    Tu so much for sharing…indeed, a touchy subject. Let’s see, you need to cover circumcision next…but you don’t have a boy…oh well, bring it up anyways! :)

    P.S. If you’re ever in DFW, let me know! :)

  17. says

    Well, I’m the naysayer here. LOL. My little one is only 1, so I don’t have any reasons to spank. Sometimes we smack hands when he gets things he isn’t supposed to. I would rather him learn ouchie from the smack than from getting cut on the scissors. And let me tell you, no matter where I hide the scissors and no matter how out of his reach I think they are, he always finds a way to get them.

    I also hit him back when he hits me. My little guy has a big temper on him. And I think it’s important that he learns what it feels like when he hits. Just like how he learns not to aggravate the cat too much when she bites him. (just a pinch, no marks or I wouldn’t have the cat anymore.)

    Another point I have to disagree with is the “spanking is bad for adults” thing. Violence is a part of our human nature. We have to find appropriate outlets for it, but it is still there and is best to be let out rather than to be repressed. I have a punching bag in the basement that is great to unleash some anger at. It doesn’t get used often, but it is wonderful to be able to attack it when I feel like I need to.

    I think spanking is fine, but should always be used as a last resort. If you’ve tried all the other discipline methods, then use spanking. I have a hard time envisioning spanking a child in anger. And believe me, I have been angry enough at my step kids before to have experienced bad behavior from an older kid. I don’t see myself using spanking to try to change an emotion. But to change a behavior, sure.

    One last thing, I don’t so much see how spanking takes advantage of size. Well, of course it does. But how do other punishments not take advantage of the development level of the child vs. the adult? Time out . . . an adult wouldn’t send another adult into time out because we know they don’t have that power over us. Anything I can think of takes advantage of the fact that the child isn’t mentally and socially developed enough to know that they can refuse. How is that different from taking advantage of a physical size difference? If anything, that makes it sound worse because as human beings we recover more easily from physical harm than emotional or mental harm. (Not saying that any of these methods of discipline cause actual harm.)

    Just playing devil’s advocate. :-)

  18. says

    Many of my thoughts were already addressed by others, so I don’t have too much to say, (I think).
    We spank, but also do timeouts and take away privileges. My children know they are loved. I give them warnings and tell them the punishment in the warning. They are made aware the consequence for their actions if they choose to continue. I try to opt for other consequences, but there are times when a spanking/swat is necessary.
    I was spanked as a child. I never doubted my parents loved me, it did not affect my adult life in a negative way, nor did it affect my relationship with either of my parents.
    I do believe spanking can be done/used inappropriately, but I do not believe it is overall bad or wrong.
    Thank you for having the guts to post on this subject! I appreciate your thoughts and the thoughts of others, and it’s good for us to look at our methods and re-evaluate!

  19. says

    I love these posts of yours….

    We don’t spank…I was not spanked…and I can’t imagine spanking my son or any of our children. I wasn’t spanked and I think I ended up ok (hehe) There are other ways to discipline a child. To be honest, we’re just starting to have the discipline discussion (my husband and I). My son is 2 and he has his own wants and desires and sometimes they are not in line with what’s best for him (ie he wants more juice than he should have or wants to run in the parking lot when it’s not safe). So we’re trying to figure out some way to teach him that he has to listen to us without it coming off as punitive…meaning….the action…not our little boy…is wrong….does that make sense? I can’t wait to read about how you do approach discipline because we are seriously just delving into this and would love some guidance…

  20. says

    I certainly respect your decision not to spank, but I have to respectfully disagree with some of your points. :-)

    Spanking *CAN* be all of those negative things, if it isn’t done properly. But it doesn’t have to be, and of course it shouldn’t be.

    I think Erin T (#3 above) explained my position beautifully so I won’t reiterate.

    That said, I think there are some parents who probably should not spank — those who have been abused and those who have anger issues.

    Although I have a bad temper, mine is usually manifested in screaming/yelling, which I would wager to say is more abusive than spanking done properly.

    But I do respect every parent’s choice on the matter, and I completely understand the aversion to spanking, especially for those who have experienced it in a negative way.

  21. Andrea McMann says

    Way to be brave and put it all out there, Stephanie. I know how hard it can be to post about those controversial topics…and sit back and wait for the comments to pour in! :)

    My husband is pro-spanking, at certain times. I am not. My son has always been so well behaved that spanking never crossed anyone’s mind. So I think when my daughter came along, she definitely made up for us never having to test our patience the first time around…and then some. There have honestly been a few times when I got really close to spanking her, and a few times my husband DID. I can only speak for my family, but in our situation, it didn’t work at all. It made everyone upset and no one felt like it accomplished anything. For my daughter, anyway, time outs work a million times better.

  22. says

    So glad you shared your spanking point of view. As you know I am wading through this whole parenting thing and trying to figure out what is best for our family. The one time I did spank my little man was for almost running in the street (I got to him before he got to the street). I did feel guilty about spanking him and not sure if it even did anything. I also think that spanking sends our son the idea that it is ok to hit…even though we preach all day long not to hit. I am so thankful for your complete honesty on the hard issues! And as for now my husband & I have decided there will be no more spanking (after the one time). He is only 22 months so we will see what happens in the future. Again thanks for sharing!!!

  23. Sarah T. says

    I appreciate hearing your thoughts, Stephanie, as it helps me think through & define my own position on the matter, which is respectful disagreement. I have hesitated to post, seeing I am definitely in the minority, but wanted to chime in & agree with Erin T. and Musings and share a few of my thoughts.

    Certainly spanking can be done wrong – but so can talking to your children or timeouts or any other form of discipline. Is the motive loving care for your children and for their training? Or anger, frustration or revenge? Children are smart! – they see the attitude and reason behind what you’re doing, and they understand. A spanking given in love will go much further than a timeout given in anger.

    For those saying that “hitting” and “spanking” are synonymous and that it makes no sense to children – again, I believe you underestimate children’s understanding. A spanking is a small, measured amount of pain, given on a place where it causes no physical harm, given in love coupled WITH communication about the proper way to behave, reassurances of love, etc. This is so, so different from swinging a hand at someone in anger, aiming to harm them, i.e. “hitting”. And it has never caused any confusion with my children.

    Although I have no wish to start a theological debate, I also must say that I see spanking as strongly advocated in Scripture, both in the many verses that refer specifically to “the rod”, and the many, many general references to how God disciplines us, such as Hebrews 12:11- “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Does God literally “spank” us as adults – of course not – but does the Bible make it clear that disobedience on our part will lead to pain? Yes, it does. The Bible is filled with instances of painful discipline for God’s people because they would not obey. I believe my children need to understand from a young age that disobedience is serious and will lead to painful consequences in their lives.

    There is so much more I could say, (and I’ve already been long-winded, I know!) I heartily agree that there are other methods of discipline that are more appropriate sometimes, and we use those too. For some people and some children, spanking may not be right. But I want those who do not spank to understand the position of those of us who do, and to see that we truly love & adore our children too, and are seeking the best for them.

  24. Erin S. says

    wow what a convicting post. we have mixed feelings on this topic and have chosen from the get-go to establish VERY clear rules surrounding the reasons for and how to spank and IF to spank in our family.
    It has however remained the absolute last resort used to ‘snap’ our oldest out of it.
    Interestingly though we have ventured away from this over the past year and a half and have been working harder to calm or consequence a situation more appropriately.
    Live and learn.

  25. says

    I was spanked as a child, it wasn’t done correctly and it really hurt my relationship with my father. I don’t think fathers (or mothers for that matter but just IMO) should ever spank their little girls. Ever Ever.

    I think every child is different, every relationship is going to be different. You very very well could have a child that even if you spark “correctly” (if that can be done) it might really hurt your relationship. Why take the chance? Why take the chance where there are so many things you can put in it’s place?

  26. adrian says

    Very well written. We do not spank either, mostly for the same type of reasons you listed. Very refreshing and thoughtfully written.

  27. says

    I loved this post! I am such a huge advocate of discipline without hitting (i.e. spanking, slapping, etc.) I absolutely abhor abuse of any kind – towards spouse, children, or any other human being. You have good logic stating that spanking is just the predecessor to abuse. If a parent feels comfortable hitting a child on the bottom, what comes next?
    Thank you for voicing your opinion on this and other topics. That’s the beauty of the blog – it’s yours. You can share your ideas/thoughts/feelings. Thank you for promoting positive reinforcement in disciplining kids through abstinence of spanking!

  28. says

    I will admit I have spanked, and although I hate to do it I felt it was the alst thing I could do.

    After reading your post I completely agree with you. And realize that I really should not be spanking the girls.

    I will definitely be talking to my husband and figuring out a new discipline plan.

  29. says

    I have spanked my nephews before and I have used time out/distraction/talking to with them also and I much prefer the later.

    I plan to not spank my daughter and future children but I also know that I can’t speak in absolutes.

    Great post!

  30. says

    I really like #7 that spanking, any form of hitting in fact, is not becoming. In any person. I think of how horrified I am to see children hit parents or other children and think how awful I must look to my child or an outsider.

    I’d also like to address another way spanking hurts the parent/child relationship: When children are spanked, they seem to become more clingy or needy and definitely more emotional with the spanker. It takes more energy and time to overcome those effects. That’s especially difficult for a person not spanking “correctly” (as was mentioned before) who may be spanking out of anger or lack of alternatives.

    I agree with the points made in the post, but must admit this is an issue I struggle with. I am working on eliminating spanking from my actions but I will be honest, it’s hard for me. I can see how it doesn’t work for my daughter and that’s the biggest motivation to change. So I’m changing. It’s the right choice for my family.

    Thanks for your perspective on the issue. It solidifies my resolve to stick with the change!

  31. PDeverit says

    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,

    NO VITAL ORGANS THERE, So They Say
    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 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,

    The LDS Church (http://education.byu.edu/youcandothis/spanking.html click “quotes on spanking”),

    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.

  32. Julie Smith says

    I’ve spanked … not often (my 21-year-old only ever got one spanking in her life – two swats on a padded behind at 5 years old for kicking me in the mouth when she was having a tantrum ).

    I grew up in a severely abusive household; I know the difference between beating and spanking. And because of my upbringing, I never ever spank in anger.

    Some children are OK with a stern look. Some children feel bad when you let them know that their actions have disappointed you. I’ve done timeouts, 1-2-3, privileges taken away, and other forms of discipline, depending on the situation and the temperament of my child.

    My son was diagnosed with PDD/NOS, ODD, and ADHD when he was 3. All of the therapies tell you NOT to spank … I tried restraining (which was horrible, and felt as though I were actually fighting my child), I tried putting him in the corner (which was also a wrestling fest, and was horrible). He would have these awful awful tantrums (he once pulled a 36″ television off the stand and broke it; he would attack his sister, who was the smallest but still 7 years older than he was). It was a very exhausting life for me. I couldn’t go anywhere, because the only other person I trusted with him other than his primary caregiver was his oldest sister and she was away at college. I had to TIGHTLY hold his hand as we were walking down the street, because he would break away from me and run out into the street (a neighbor was at my door, and she was standing with the screen door cracked open – before I knew it, my 4 year old son had run past her and down to the busiest street in my neighborhood – I took off like a bullet; shoeless and all. It was the most terrifying feeling – running after him [and he was quick – by the time I got out the door, he had already turned the corner and he was half a block ahead of me]. My heart skidded to a stop every time he veered towards this busy busy, lots of traffic, street and I was scared that he would run out into all of this traffic and die right in front of me. He crossed 3 different side streets before I caught up with him [my older daughter and my neighbor were far behind trying to catch up] and only because he turned off into a parking lot. When I turned the corner, he was standing there laughing because he thought it was great fun and I was shaking and crying). I used to have nightmares about him darting out in front of a car. I could barely sleep because I worried about him getting up in the middle of the night or in the morning before I woke up and finding a way out of the house (which he did, twice – once even scaling a 6-foot chainlink fence to do so – I was very lucky that something [call it intuition or what you will] woke me as he was getting out). He could not understand cause and effect. He was also still nonverbal. A “good” day was when he only had 3 or 4 tantrums (and these weren’t the ‘throw yourself on the floor, stomp and kick your feet tantrums; they were the run around pulling and throwing things and hitting people type of tantrums). I cried every day; I was exhausted EVERY day. NOTHING that I did worked, even though I was consistent with it. One day, after he had swept his arm along the task table and knocked down every framed photo that was on it (and he was still going strong into the tantrum), I pulled off my soft slipper and popped his bum with it.

    He stopped.

    Just like that.

    I got down to his eye level and told him that he could NOT throw things. He could NOT hit me or his sister or ANYone. He could NOT break things in my house or in ANYone’s house. If he wanted to be like other people and have friends, he was going to have to “get it together” and figure out a better way.

    I used that slipper a few times. I stayed consistent – it was when he did things that would cause damage – to himself, to someone else, to belongings. I mixed it with my own brand of social development and cognitive therapy. (see, my insurance would pay for his diagnosis, but not for the intense therapy he would need, so I read and researched and formulated something that would work for us).

    He’s 9 now – I don’t remember the last time I actually had to spank him. His psychiatrist said he would never be mainstreamed. Although I started him late (I didn’t put him in school until he was 7), he’s in third grade with A’s and B’s and lots of friends.

    I think spanking should be reserved for extreme behavior, but I DO think that spanking has it’s place in a rounded set of discipline measures. Consequences are consequences. Children will think, “am I going to get spanked if I do this?” or “am I going to get grounded if I do this?” (for older children) or “am I going to lose privileges for this?”.

    But, in my opinion, for younger children who only really understand immediate consequences, a pop on the padding should be enough to get their attention so that you can follow through and explain why you had to do it.

    I know this was a long reply, and I admire the fact that you didn’t go into a long diatribe (like some I’ve seen) that parents who spank are:

    1. too lazy to come up with something else
    2. not creative enough to come up with something else
    3. too stupid to come up with something else
    4. just plain violent people who are teaching their children violence

    Some people can raise happy, well-adjusted, contributing members of society without spanking at all. Some parents who spank can do the same. Some people who don’t spank raise selfish, mean, “it’s all about ME and what I want” type of children. Some people who don’t spank do the same.

    I think it’s all in how the discipline is administered. And again, spanking should be the last resort. And if it makes your child worse, it’s not the discipline method you should use. I say whatever works, as long as you are not physically or psychologically harming your child (you don’t have to spank to be abusive – calling your children names, not appreciating their efforts, not paying attention to them, making them feel like they are a burden rather than this wonderful gift that your were given – these are all forms of abuse).

    Your girls are gorgeous, and they have a mommy and daddy that really really love them. THAT’s what our children all need – lots of love and consistent discipline to teach them right from wrong.

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