Yes, we’ve discussed it previously, last year. Still, it’s a topic that is sometimes on my mind, as I try to raise three kids with a minimal loss of sanity for everyone involved: To spank, or not to spank; and if to spank, how?

So, let me toss out a few questions that I’m currently mulling over:

1. Is a universal model really possible? Is it ever appropriate to say “never spank” or “always spank”? Or is each child and each child-parent relationship sufficiently different that it’s futile to say “you should always do X”? (Also, how much can be determined from anecdotal evidence?).

2. For non-spanking advocates — how does one discipline children? (Bear in mind the constraints of limited time, limited patience, other siblings demanding resources, etc.) Is there ever a time when spanking is appropriate? How can that be determined?

3. For spanking advocates — how do you draw the line between spanking and abuse? Are there hard-and-fast rules? Is it “I know it when I see it”?

3a. What happens when one person’s legitimate spanking is another person’s abuse? Do you call the bishop / police / social services when you see a neighbor or friend spank a child with a hand? With a belt?

4. Is it better or worse to spank children, as compared to taking them to a doctor who prescribes all manner of drugs for them? Which is worse, if both are bad — the spanked child or the Prozacced child?

5. How do we incorporate various gospel teachings into our understanding of the discussion? What does “spare the rod, spoil the child” mean? What is “unrighteous dominion”? How much weight, if any, should we give to any denunciation or lack of denunciation by church leaders?

6. What exactly does the social science say, if anyone knows? I hear masses of conflicting claims from different people; they can’t all be right. Citations to specific sources, if available, are appreciated.

77 comments for “Spanking

  1. Julie in Austin
    April 20, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    “Spare the rod” is an interesting statement. The shepherd doesn’t hit the sheep with the rod (think: “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”) but rather uses it to guide and lead the sheep.

    We have three kids: just turned seven, three and a half, and five months. We’ve never used physical punishments because we don’t want to teach our children any of the following lessons that I believe are implicitly taught along with physical punishment:

    (1) hitting is appropriate in some situations
    (2) stronger people can get their way over weaker people
    (3) stronger people can punish weaker people

    along with the more general lesson that certain behaviors should be avoided because they will result in physical punishment.

    Here’s what we have used:

    (1) an explanation of why the behavior is wrong (“we don’t throw things in the house because someone might get hurt”) followed by a description of what will happen if the behavior is repeated (“if you throw it again, I will have to put the ball in time out”).

    I’m not interested in seeing this thread turn into a huge war between the pro- and anti-spanking camps. I think you can spank without abusing and without irreperably harming your child, but I think other options are better and I worry that for some people, spanking can be done in anger and/or begin to cross the line to abuse.

    One thing that I would like to point out is that spanking and non-spanking parents often have very similar approaches when you get down to it:

    Me: “If you scream again, I will put you in time out.”
    Other: “If you scream again, I will spank you.”

    The reality is that both of us are trying to stop the child from inappropriate behavior by outlining a consequence. Neither of us really *wants* the consequence to kick in, and for most kids most of the time, it won’t have to.

    I don’t think there is one size fits all parents and kids parenting advice. I think the only really bad things that parents do (aside from abuse and neglect, of course) is to (1) be inconsistent (as in, I will ignore the throwing today but punish it tomorrow) and (2) not follow through with consequences. If you are going to threaten time outs or spankings, you have to follow through.

    The expert has spoken. :)

  2. Vicki
    April 20, 2005 at 2:27 pm

    1. I think hitting other people is wrong, period. President Hinckley said, “I don’t believe that children need to be beaten, or anything of that kind. Children can be disciplined with love.” (from October 2003 Ensign, and I don’t know how to link specific articles on

    2. I strive to use positive, non-punitive, non-permissive discipline. I don’t always fulfill my ideal but I do believe strongly in this. What positive discipline means to me: first, discipline means teach instead of punish, respect the child, honor their emotions, utilize get-off-your-butt (can I say that?) parenting with young children–physically remove them or redirect them when needed, to show them the parent’s words will be followed up with actions. For me, “non-punitive” refers mostly to my intent, I don’t believe in trying to make the child feel bad or worse about mistakes they have made. I want to encourage the development of my children’s natural sense of right and wrong (perhaps this is the Light of Christ as discussed in Boyd K. Packer’s April Ensign article) so they will be motivated internally to be good people. I don’t want them to behave well to avoid punishment. In public I try to give my children good expectations of what kind of behavior is expected and if they throw a fit in the middle of Target, for example, I remove them.

    3a. I’ve only had people spank twice in my presence and was upset by it but didn’t feel it was abusive or anything to call authorities about.

    4. If a child legitimately needs medication then that’s fine with me. I don’t think children must fall into either of these two categories.

    5. I don’t believe “spare the rod, spoil the child” meant physical punishment. I’ve read arguments that the rod was used to guide, not hit sheep. I don’t believe Jesus would physically punish a child.

    6. I know there is a lot of anti-spanking research out there and don’t have time to find it at the moment. Here are some of my favorite positive discipline authors/books, they all cite research in their books: How to Talk so Kids will Listen & How to Listen so Kids will Talk by Faber and Mazlish; Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles by Kurcinka; and When Anger Hurts Your Kids by Fanning, Paleg, Landis, and McKay.

    And I have a question for spanking advocates–where do you draw the line? At what ages is spanking appropriate and at what age should you find another kind of discipline?

  3. Elisabeth
    April 20, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    I’m not sure about the social science statistics, but I think that spanking is worse for the spanker than the spankee. Spanking usually occurs on the spur of the moment, out of anger or frustration, and I don’t think it’s healthy for the spanker to react to anger and frustration with physical violence (and certainly the spankee doesn’t appreciate it, either).

    As for using spanking as a method of discipline, it always seemed a bit medieval to hear stories of children having to go cut their own switch from a tree branch before they got taken out to the woodshed for a whipping. And I think this would be termed abuse in today’s world. In fact, my secretary’s teenage daughter called social services and reported that her mother was abusive for grabbing her arm. Of course, I only heard my secretary’s side of the story, but her daughter was able to use this report against her mother to prove to the court that she should live with her more permissive father.

    Anyway, is spanking really that much more effective than grounding or taking away privileges? Why would you ever choose to intentionally physically harm your children?

    That said, I had my fair share of spankings growing up, and I don’t think my parents were monsters for spanking their kids. The worst punishment for me was being sent to my room -spanking was much preferred to not being able to play outside with my friends.

  4. Rosalynde Welch
    April 20, 2005 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t spank my kids, and obviously I’ve chosen not to because I think that’s best. But I have been sorely tempted to do so on occasion, and I can’t judge spanking parents too severely because, when I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I’ve grabbed my daughters arm roughly, or moved her ungently, or spoken to her unkindly in moments of provocation. Just because I don’t spank doesn’t necessarily mean I’m nicer to my kids, unfortunately.

  5. April 20, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    A measured swat on the keister does wonders until a child is about age 3… After that its on to more time-outs and removal of privileges (punishments which they are developed enough to be able connect with the inappropriate behavior).

  6. Ivan Wolfe
    April 20, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    It would be nice if “spare the rod, spoil the child” actually appeared in scripture.

    The only real reference I can find to “rod” as discipline are these:

    Proverbs 13:24
    24He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

    and this:
    Proverbs 23:13
    Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

    Proverbs 23:14
    Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

    I don’t feel too comfortable using those verses as a basis for discipline, since “beating” seems a clear part (that rod doesn’t seem to comforting).

    But I think there is a lot of judgementalism in both camps (of the other camp).

    Elisabeth –
    Spanking usually occurs on the spur of the moment, out of anger or frustration, and I don’t think it’s healthy for the spanker to react to anger and frustration with physical violence (and certainly the spankee doesn’t appreciate it, either).

    So – the question I would have is: If the spanking is done pre-meditated intent, as a before the fact spelled out punishment and the child fully knows why the spanking is occuring, does that make it acceptable?

    Just curious. I think Julie’s comments were spot on (except the rod part. Proverbs seems to have a very uncomfortable rod).

  7. Rusty
    April 20, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    I was spanked and I’m pretty normal. In fact, I’ve never been in a fight in my life, never punched or hit anyone, ever. I don’t have any resentful feelings towards my parents, in fact, quite the opposite. However, I never felt that they were hitting me out of anger, but rather punishment for something that I had done.

    I don’t have children yet but my older sisters do. The oldest has five boys and she spanks (“sometimes a little pain in his butt is the only thing his head is going to understand”) and the other one doesn’t. Both have good kids. I’m inclined to be pretty open about it and believe that it depends on the child.

    Funny side story: One time my dad asked me if I’d rather have two swats with his belt or four with his hand. I knew the hand hurt more than the belt (surface area) so I reluctantly said “two with the belt” so he wouldn’t realize I was getting the best of him. HA!! I showed him.

  8. Rusty
    April 20, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    I think it’s perfectly acceptable (like I suggested in my previous comment). If one knows consequence before taking action, what’s wrong with that consequence being pain on their butt rather than sitting bored in the corner?

  9. Ivan Wolfe
    April 20, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    Rusty –

    I’m inclined to agree (though I have very mixed feelings on the subject). I am trying to find out if Elisabeth is against spanking or just badly planned, spur of the moment punishments?

  10. Elisabeth
    April 20, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    Ivan #6

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear in my post, but I meant to say that pre-meditated violence might actually be WORSE than acting on the spur of the moment. At least so goes the rule in the criminal law.

    As an aside, I think emotional abuse can be far worse than spanking. It makes me so sad to overhear parents yelling at their kids and calling them names. Granted, no one is perfect, and we all lose our tempers, but kids really do remember all the hurtful things that people say to them – even if they act like it’s no big deal and they aren’t listening to a word you’re saying.

  11. B
    April 20, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    “(2) stronger people can get their way over weaker people
    (3) stronger people can punish weaker people”

    Every form of parent-child punishment sends these messages. Time out, taking away privileges, you name it. Parents and children are not equal. If a child is disobedient, the enforcement of any punishment ultimately boils down to who is stronger–physically, financially, whatever. Any kid knows that if he had the superior strength and powers of Superman, he could just fly away from the time-out chair, and mom and dad couldn’t stop him.

  12. Mark Martin
    April 20, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    Proverbs 13:24 (#6)
    “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

    Last year after we sang “Hold to the Rod” in stake conference, the visiting speaker commented that the imagery of the iron rod being “the word of God” can give new meaning to the Proverbs reference. We can use the word of God to teach and discipline our children, and not necessarily a “striking” rod.

    Ask me again in 10 or 20 years whether I believe in spanking. As for now, I think that even though my parents did okay by spanking me, I hope to avoid it as a parent in today’s world. (By the way, paddling was common practice from grades 1-9 in my childhood schools, until I moved to Delaware.)

  13. Elisabeth
    April 20, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    Reading over my last post, I don’t think I got my complete idea across which is: it disturbs me more when people CHOOSE violence as a solution to a problem, than when people react on the spur of the moment with violence. I think we should choose other ways to solve our problems than using violence (although, there may not be alternatives in all cases).

    To Rusty’s point about why a pain in the butt is different than being bored in a corner, I think there is something fundamentally different about disciplining children with violence. I’m not sure I can articulate what it is, but there just is. Maybe because it conjures up negative images of a stronger person hurting a weaker person. Maybe because violence is so abused as a tool to force people to conform that the good that could come out of using physical violence in some instances seems negligible.

  14. April 20, 2005 at 3:32 pm

    just want to make sure — we’re talking about spanking children, right?

  15. Julie in Austin
    April 20, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    Ivan–I was thinking of Psalms 23 in response to Proverbs 13:24a, because I *think* that that is what most people are thinking of when they say ‘spare the rod.’ (Maybe one of our Hebrew people could help us on the meaning of ‘chasteneth’ in that verse.) I think the actual phrase ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ comes from some 18th century love poem (?).

  16. Elisabeth
    April 20, 2005 at 3:37 pm

    Steve –

    I think we’re talking about children. And, just for the record, I don’t have any – so there goes my credibility. However, I can speak from lots of experience that a quick spray of water from a spray bottle is the ideal method of discipline for wayward cats.

  17. Julie in Austin
    April 20, 2005 at 3:38 pm


    Perhaps in a sense you are right, but I hope that I am modeling to my children that I am using my power over them in a way that does not involve inflicting pain, because I don’t want them inflicting pain on others as they exercise power of those smaller than them.

  18. Shawn Bailey
    April 20, 2005 at 3:40 pm

    Steve: I resisted making that comment a few hours ago. Shame on you. And shame on me for independently coming up with something you would say! (Imagine emoticon here).

  19. April 20, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    B #13, right.

    I have 5 children ages 16-2. Very well behaved and I attribute it to the occassional exercise of unrighteous dominion on their behinds when appropriate. (It may be inspite of rather than because of, actually, or because of their outstanding mother). Administered properly, spankings are not beatings or anything close to it. My kids learned early that spanking was a severe form of discipline and they had really blown it if it came to that — and I think the spankings were/are seldom administered severely enough to cause pain. It is the fact that a swat is necessary and given that causes the greatest (emotional) discomfort.

    If a child refuses to be obedient, won’t stand in the corner, won’t go to time out, won’t stay in their room, tantrums or bad behavior when good things are denied as punishment — not respecting thei parent’s authority — spanking still remains a viable option.

    The savior didn’t spank children, but as Jehovah, he destroyed them, including children when they willfully rebelled.

  20. April 20, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    …I only thought it fair to ask since this thread was started by Kaimi, after all…

  21. April 20, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    re: comment 19—

    I can read the headline: “Mother of 4, invoking scriptural injunction to be like God, destroys children.”

  22. Mark Martin
    April 20, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    Elizabeth (#16),
    I’m going to have to carry a spray bottle the next time I’m with my nieces and nephews in case they get out of hand! I can imagine willful rebellion quickly dissolving into giggles and an all-out water fight.

  23. Todd Lundell
    April 20, 2005 at 3:59 pm


    I am very interested your sense that choosing to spank is somehow worse than spanking out of an emotional reaction. I actually think the worst way to discipline your children is with a reactive punishment. It teaches that it is okay to give in to feelings of frustration by taking them out on others. Whether the punishment is meeted out physically through a spanking or by sending the child to her room seems much less important to me than the attitude and control with which the punishment is given. I have seen parents who are constantly getting upset with their children and punishing them on impulse, but who refuse to spank because they think that is harmful to the child. Those children, however, grow up without any emotional control.

    I would much rather my child learn that “violence” is sometimes justified (I question whether they really learn that truth through spanking but . . .) than think it is okay to unleash frustrations on others without thinking. Most problems that I have seen in homes and elsewhere stem not from a parent or spouse thinking that physical violence is justified, but from a person’s inability to control their emotions (often followed by remorse b/c they know they have done wrong).

    I could be wrong, but all the fuss over spanking seems to me to miss the point entirely. That being said, I have never spanked my child for punishment. I am not necessarily opposed to it, but I haven’t been in a situation where I thought it was required (my daughter is almost 3, but she responds pretty well to other forms of discipline).

  24. M.J. Pritchett
    April 20, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    If you do spank your kids, a good question to ask yourself is when will I stop using physical punishment and what will I substitute at that point. My 13-year old son is now a couple of inches taller than I am and I’m glad I haven’t relied on physical punishment with him up to this point.

    I was spanked as a child–even after I was 13–and I spanked my first child when she was small, but something someone said at church made me decide to stop. I do think it makes you more conscious in your parenting when you take away the physical punishment option.

    With respect to other punishments, I once read that any teenager who can be controlled with grounding, doesn’t really have serious troubles. It is impossible to “ground” a really troubled teen. In fact, it is humbling to think through how limited your options really are with a difficult teenager (and all are difficult to one degree or another).

    I think that if kids can learn that the negative consequences of wrong actions come from the world, not from their parents, they will be more likely to choose good actions. Ultimately, all of the really hard choices kids will make, they will make on their own–at a party, in a car, in the park, at a sleep over. If they have the idea that all they have to do is fool their parents or not get caught to avoid the consequences of their actions they will be much more likely to try to get away with things. If they understand that it is their choice and they will live with the consequences they will (I hope) make better choices. (Of course, this is sort of circular, since the basic problem with a troubled kids is that they have poor judgement about the consequenses of their actions.)

    Of course, kids develop over time and what is appropriate at 3 is different from 10 is different from 16 is different from 21. (We don’t let toddlers play in the street so they can learn that the consequences include being hit by a car.) But I do think that trying to help kids understand from an early age that the consequences of their behavior comes from outside their parents, and can’t necessarily be changed by their parents, is something that pays dividends over the long term.

  25. Elisabeth
    April 20, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    Todd –

    You raise some very good points. I think that hitting someone out of frustration is unacceptable, but that hitting someone on the spur of the moment may be more understandable than hitting someone five minutes later after your mind has cleared.

    However, I think my legal training is getting the way here, because in my mind, the intent to spank plus the action of spanking itself seems to me to be worse than just the spanking, because that’s how we categorize the severity of a crime (i.e., having the intent to commit a crime makes the crime worse).

    I think I need to jettison this view, however, since you are right that most problems arise when parents lose their temper and hit their children out of anger instead of waiting to cool off before disciplining them.

    I guess I just don’t like the idea of spanking, but I agree that it may be a necessary evil in some cases (see #19).

  26. Julie in Austin
    April 20, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    “something someone said at church made me decide to stop”

    oh, come on, tell us

    “If they have the idea that all they have to do is fool their parents or not get caught to avoid the consequences of their actions they will be much more likely to try to get away with things.”

    I agree. So help me with this one: periodically, the 7yo and 3.5 yo will come running at me with their competing (and mutually exclusive) tales of woe. I don’t know whom to believe. I decided that I wouldn’t punish things I hadn’t seen. But now I’m afraid that what I am teaching is: “If you want to harass your brother, just be sure you do it where mom can’t see.” What do I do?

  27. B
    April 20, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    “I hope that I am modeling to my children that I am using my power over them in a way that does not involve inflicting pain, because I don’t want them inflicting pain on others as they exercise power of those smaller than them.”

    I don’t see the distinction here. Any punishment must inflict some kind of pain in order to be effective; time-out certainly inflicts emotional pain. I’m sure you don’t want your kids putting littler kids in time-out. Because if they did it from a serious perspective where they were really trying to force their will on the littler kid by putting the littler kid firmly into the time-out corner, that would inflict emotional pain on the little kid.

    Maybe physical pain is different. But maybe not. Surely you inflict some types of physical pain on your children in some situations, believing it is for their good and wishing–if it were possible–for the cup to pass from them. I don’t know that a very young child can distinguish between being held down and given painful vaccinations “for his own good” versus a swat on the hand or butt “for his own good.” From his perspective, if mom and dad are telling him both of those painful experiences are necessary, he either believes both or doesn’t believe either. Certainly as adults, we are capable of making distinctions if we want to, but if the kid accepts the physical pain of hypodermics or the physical discomfort of Sunday clothes or hunger pangs of fasting, then the kid will also accept the pain of spanking for misbehavior, if that is presented as the unavoidable rule in the house.

  28. April 20, 2005 at 4:45 pm

    Trying to type while being tackled by my two-year old son… I am almost completely in line with Julie in Austin. The only exception that I can see (or have dreamed up) is one in which I need to communicate to my child instantly that something he has done/is doing is life-threateningly wrong. The one (and really only) example that I have thought of is if we are in a large parking lot, he is struggling against my hand and suddenly slips free and takes off running into traffic. He is not up to the point of communication where he understands full verbal explainations, nor would he understand 20-minutes later when we’ve arrived at home why he is being sat down in the “naughty chair”. Perhaps I am underestimating the genius that I know lurks behind his big blue eyes, but I think that there may be room for a physical consequence for a toddler who hasn’t fully developed verbal communication.

  29. Mike Parker
    April 20, 2005 at 4:48 pm

    My wife and I have three kids, ages 8 (boy), 6 and 1.5 (girls). We used spanking on the two older kids until recently, and rejected the anti-spanking crowd’s arguments. But we’ve recently discovered by experience that spanking doesn’t work, at least with kids older than 3 or so (agreeing with comment #5). What it does do is make kids obey you because they fear you, and that isn’t what we want.

    We’re recently started watching Supernanny on Monday nights. We tried her techniques and have had remarkable success in getting our children to behave, without having to hit.

  30. B
    April 20, 2005 at 4:48 pm

    “mutually exclusive tales of woe”

    Send them each to separate rooms. The tortured and the torturer each know who they are. For the torturer, being sent to a room is a “time out.” For the tortured, it is relief and protecion.

  31. HL Rogers
    April 20, 2005 at 4:50 pm

    I think the spanking debate often turns into substance over form. Is spanking bad–I think it depends on the circumstances. But we should also be concerned about yelling and callnig names as was mentioned above. But this still doesn’t get down to the full substance. Emotional manipulation/abuse is often the most egregious form of over-zealous punishment and it often never involves a raised hand or a raised voice.

    The most important aspect of disciplining my children is that they always know I love them. If spanking takes that from them, or yelling, or saying “you’ve really disapointted daddy,” then I try not to do it. For example, with the silly example of a spray bottle. Most children would not start into a giggle fest or a water fight if they felt your intent was to punish. They would feel hurt and angry at being treated in such a way. I think intent trumps and should be guided by an awareness of how our kids feel in response to what we do. I believe in disciplione and heavens knows I have lost my patience with my kids and had to apologize to them. If I could just remember that they are children of my Heavenly Father and treat them with love and respect–even when I’m carrying them to their rooms for a time out–I think they would be happier AND better behaved.

    Of course, behavior modification is an important goal but not the most important. As Sister Hinkley said to her daughter: save the relationship.

  32. M.J. Pritchett
    April 20, 2005 at 4:57 pm


    It was nothing really. Someone just said you should never hit your children for any reason. My first thought was, “That’s crazy.” But for some reason I decided to try not hitting at all as an experiment, and it just stuck.

    As to your situation. One approach would be to punish both. That way they will also learn not to come to you except with a serious wound and a bulletproof story.

    Another would be to think of your role as a mediator and teacher rather than a punisher: Try to help each child understand the consequences of his or her behavior on the other person, and what will happen to them if they make others feel bad when they play with them. Try to teach them that they won’t have friends at school if they don’t learn how to share at home. Try to help the victim to be able to explain in words to the other sibling (and to you) how the offending behavior made them feel and teach them how they can take action to get out of the situation, if they can’t figure out how to change the other person’s behavior. Teach them to stick up for themselves. By this time they will be bored and happy to resume whatever they were doing in peace.

  33. Ashley Crandell
    April 20, 2005 at 5:00 pm

    I have a 7-yr-old and a 4-yr-old, with the same tiresome senario playing out daily. Here’s something that’s worked since we put it into practice last week:
    the children have to sit on a “repentance bench” (2 chairs would work as well) and rather than appealing to me as mediator and arbiter, they talk with each other about what they themselves did wrong–an exercise in honesty and asking forgiveness. I stay in the background, listening, but not visible to the children. It’s amazing how quickly their disputes have been resolved, and how quickly they are up and happily playing with each other again.

  34. M.J. Pritchett
    April 20, 2005 at 5:15 pm


    Just in case my wife ever reads this thread–remember I’m just the dad so take all of my advice with a grain of salt. I was only home on nights and weekends (and since I was a bishop during 5 of the years when my kids were small, it was actually just some nights and Saturdays), so my wife did most of the heavy lifiting on the parenting front so she gets credit for any good outcome.

  35. Vicki
    April 20, 2005 at 5:22 pm

    “Any punishment must inflict some kind of pain in order to be effective…”
    B-I think punishment is by definition painful, but disciplining children, teaching them to do right, doesn’t have to be painful. I believe we don’t have to exist in adversarial relationships with our children. We can teach kids correct behavior without trying to make them feel bad (or worse) about what they’ve done.

  36. BosoxAut
    April 20, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    I think the real danger in spanking is that it can lead to a parent taking their frustration out on their child…not cool. I was abused as a kid, and I like to think that had my mom never crossed the spanking line, my siblings and I would all be better off today.

    Sidenote: My mom would become irate if we hit one another…I guess she never saw the connection. :(

  37. Sara R
    April 20, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    My kids are 7, 5, and 2. We do spank here, although we didn’t start out spanking. We don’t do it a lot, and it’s not our only form of punishment.

    My oldest was a stubborn child from the beginning. Most children care about their parents’ good opinion of them; she really didn’t care what we thought about her until she was 4. When she was 5, I started to be tougher with her, and that included spanking. I did so with love and without anger. I would take her to a place by herself (so other siblings wouldn’t make fun of her), tell her what the rule was that she had broken, spank, and then tell her how much I love her and how we know that she can do what’s right. If you spank as part of a plan, you don’t generally lose control like you would if you spank as a last resort.

    I started to expect her to obey me, and that required a parental change of attitude. I didn’t expect obedience because this was a parental power trip, but because I am the mother, I know what’s best, and that’s what God expects of children. I do try to explain the reasons for why we do what’s right, but that’s usually at a different time (during scripture study or our devotionals). I also concentrated on showing her that I loved her.

    What surprised me most was her change in attitude once I changed my parenting. I expected her to like me less, but the opposite happened. She started to be a lot more loving toward me, and she was suddenly a pleasure to have around. She desperately needed those limits in order to be a happy kid, and she respected me more afterwards.

    Kaimi asked about spanking versus Ritalin. Had this girl been in public school (we homeschool), and had I not taught her obedience, I have no doubt that we would have been asked to medicate her.

    I don’t spank as often now, but I do when the situation is serious enough to warrant it. (For example, the other day she left the house without permission.) Sometimes and with some children, words don’t get through and action is necessary to show the child how serious the offense is. About 98% of the time now, she is a delightful girl.

    My other children are more mild-mannered, and I don’t think I would have used spanking had they been my only children.

    Good parenting, clear and consistent expectations, family scripture study, family prayer, family home evenings, and lots of love at home reduce the need for use of punishment of any kind. But punishment is still necessary as part of the teaching process when the child does something wrong on purpose (the Protestants would say because of a sin nature; I suppose we would say because of the natural man). We don’t have to “exist in adversarial relationships with our children”–my children usually figure out within an hour or so that I love them and that the rules and punishments are for their own good. But that doesn’t mean that they like me every single minute.

    During the times that the children are relatively well behaved I explain them the advantages of being good kids. “The only reason why we can go to [this fun place] is that I can trust you to stay right with me!” “Isn’t it nice not to hear yelling and whining in our home?”

  38. B
    April 20, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    “I think punishment is by definition painful, but disciplining children, teaching them to do right, doesn’t have to be painful.”

    Therefore you believe that punishment is not a necessary part of discipline? That’s going quite a bit further than just no physical punishment.

    I’m not suggesting that anyone should want to be in an adversarial relationship with a child or try to make a child feel bad or worse. I’m just saying that if you punish, you are inflicting pain, whether physical pain or not–I don’t think it makes a difference to the child. When I was a child, as far as I was concerned, mommy could just as easily have chosen not to send me to my room or not to remove me from the store or not to turn off the TV as not to spank me. I didn’t see one of those punishments as being crueler than the other; the punishment I was enduring at the time was always the cruelest. I didn’t feel any less oppressed by the big, strong parent just because I wasn’t being swatted.

  39. B
    April 20, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    I failed to make it clear that my parents used spanking sometimes and exclusively other punishments other times, so I experienced some of both approaches.

  40. Todd Lundell
    April 20, 2005 at 6:24 pm

    Kaimi, I know where you got the inspiration for this post – Desperate Housewives. A recent episode concerned this very debate; not that I ever watch such trash, of course.

    From the website:

    “A harried Lynette dumps her kids on Bree without asking first so she can meet old work friends for a drink. Bree obliges, but when Porter acts up, she spanks him –something Lynette never does. When Lynette finds out, she flips out and Bree responds by saying everyone knows the Scavo kids are out of control. Lynette coldly tells Bree she has no business criticizing her parenting skills since Andrew is now at a camp for juvenile delinquents.

    Lynette sounds off to Tom, but he admits the kids are onto their empty threats to spank them. Lynette says her mother beat her and her sisters and she refuses to become like her mother. But then when the boys keep acting up, Lynette snaps. She threatens them with a spanking — from Mrs. Van de Kamp! The boys immediately start behaving.”

  41. Seth Rogers
    April 20, 2005 at 6:48 pm

    My guidelines (adopt them or reject them as you wish):

    1. If it leaves a bruise, you’ve gone too far.
    2. Whatever punishment you threaten a child with, follow through, even if you’re at the supermarket. Don’t threaten if you aren’t willing to actually do it.
    3. Infliction of pain should be brief and dissapate quickly. Prolonged twisting of arms, etc. are not appropriate.
    4. Don’t use physical punishment while you’re still angry.
    5. Physical punishment isn’t appropriate for some kids, but for others, nothing else will get through.
    6. Lighten up and stop trying to micromanage your kid. This will dramatically cut down on the number of times you feel compelled to punish.

    Caveat to guideline #4. The mere fact that you are not angry when inflicting pain is not even close to determinative of whether you’re doing it right.

    I remember reading a study that many abusive husbands or parents actually don’t get mad when they iron little Julie’s fingers, or break their wife’s jaw. It’s cold-blooded and premeditated for a lot of abusers.

    Spotting abuse in others: Just remember that one incident doesn’t make for abuse. Abuse is a pattern, not an incident.

  42. April 20, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    Every time I hear someone say they punish their children by sending them to their room I’m reminded of a segment Bill Cosby did in “Himself” where his wife punishes him by sending him to his room to which he responds– “Which is where I wanted to be in the first place?”

    We have determined that one of our primary responsibilities in raising our two children (6 & 8) is that actions/behaviors have consequences. Good and bad behavior is rewarded accordingly. In order to teach our children about the consequences of bad behavior we have employed a number of different punishments– including spanking. We think spanking is appropriate as long as it is not a spur of the momement impulse to lash out in anger. Spanking is a process as well that doesn’t begin when the adult’s hand meets the child’s backside and end when a parent feels they’ve inflicted sufficient pain or discomfort. Spanking a child still involves the steps of helping the child identify what behavior motivated the punishment and reinforcing the feelings of love the adult has for the child when the ordeal is over. Should spanking be the first tool out of the parenting box? We think not. When we have spanked our children it has generally been the result of progresively bad behavior and the kid(s) recieved ample warning of the impending consequence. We also, at least when we’re at home, send them to their respective rooms prior to spanking them and allow them to stew awhile. This also gives us a chance to change cool down and possibly change OUR minds concernig the punishment if we think it appropriate to do so.

    We have a story we both find somewhat humorous concerning our son. At the time he was 3 and we were at the Nauvoo temple open house. My son was quite full of energy and kept running around pushing others in the group and making a general nuisance of himself. We made several attempts to control his behvior and we issued a number of warnings and ultimately he got frustrated with our attempts to help him behave appropriately and he hit his mother. Needless to say, in our bad behavior hierarchy such action merits a spanking. I immediately informed him that after we retruned to the car he would get a spanking. We were only half way through the tour and he had a lot of time to stew. About ten minutes of exemplary behavior later he approached me and asked me to pick him up. He put his arms around me, gave me a hug, looked me straight in the eye, and asked, “Daddy, do you love me?” I responded, “Of course, you know I love you.” To which he replied, “Then spank me, now!” Thinking about his impending punishment was just killing him. We started laughing so hard it would have been impossible to follow through at that point.

  43. Vicki
    April 20, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    “Therefore you believe that punishment is not a necessary part of discipline? That’s going quite a bit further than just no physical punishment.”

    The very vast majority of the time I do not believe punishment is necessary. I dunno, when I get involved in these discussions I think oftentimes people are closer together than they realize. To me, punishment means doing something that hurts my child (or causes pain) to get my point across. It’s all about intent, in my mind. And maybe it’s a distinction that doesn’t matter a lot of the time but it’s important for me. Maybe because growing up I didn’t have the best examples of discipline from my parents. I see comments about how x punishment doesn’t work with the explanation that the child didn’t show remorse *because* of said punishment, so the parent chooses different or more punishments to try to make the child feel or act sorry for misbehaving. My goal is to correct the behavior, and sometimes that means my child is upset with me but if my child doesn’t feel hurt by my discipline I don’t care. That’s not my goal.

    An example, I don’t know if this will make sense but say a child is misbehaving in a store–I would probably warn my particular child once (having reminded him the rules for stores before we went in) and if he continued the misbehavior (say screaming and crying) then I would pick him up and leave the store. To me, if I stay calm and respectful, I don’t yell or pull his arm or lose my cool, it’s not punitive. I can think of all kinds of things that to me would be disrespectful and inappropriate and punitive. I guess my main thing is that I try to teach appropriate behavior without *trying* to make the child feel worse about mistakes.

    Again, maybe I overthink it but trying to be respectful and nonpunitive as much as possible is important to me. And here’s where I need to say that I fail, often, and like Rosalynde said I have been physically rough with my child (and yelled at the baby even) and I’ve lost control of my yelling a few times too and those moments I regret.

    I wish I could clarify more but my baby is acting sick and I need to attend to him now and not the keyboard.

  44. Katherine
    April 20, 2005 at 9:10 pm

    Julie (#26), give them a piece of paper and pencil and have them write a report of the incident that they both agree on–no getting up until mutually acceptible. Then decide if further consequences are merited based on their report.

  45. April 20, 2005 at 10:14 pm

    A little late, but I’ll throw my two cents in…

    I know a lot of people who use spanking as a punishment, and I think if the child knows that it’s a viable consequence, and it’s meted out according to a clear-cut cause-and effect situation that the child can expect and depend on, it can be effective. It wouldn’t be my choice, but I have seen it be effective. My problem is that I when I spank, it is because I myself have lost control, and I’m overly angry with something my child has done. In those cases, it’s destructive and only teaches my son that it’s ok to give into angry tendencies with violence. After the first time I spanked him out of anger, he got violent with his playgroup friends, something he had never done.

  46. April 20, 2005 at 10:29 pm

    I was spanked. All it did was teach me to avoid being spanked. In other words, if I wasn’t caught, I wasn’t spanked.

    I remember once I decided to admit to having done something after my dad called us all in. I thought I would receive a more lenient discipline. Unfortunately, I didn’t. What I learned from that was that if I told the truth, I most certainly was to be spanked. If I lied, There was a chance I wouldn’t be found out and I avoided the spanking.

    Spankers may want to consider what their children may be deducing from being spanked.

  47. Jim F.
    April 20, 2005 at 10:59 pm

    Kim, I’m not an advocate of spanking (nor much of a foe–it is easy to have no position on a subject that is irrelevant to me), but I don’t see how what you say about spanking would be different for a different kind of punishment.

  48. claire
    April 21, 2005 at 8:38 am

    In our home, we try our darndest to make the “consequence fit the crime.” We also have very few ‘rules’ other than the goldren rule and safety rules about parking lots, bunk beds, etc. If someone writes on the wall with markers, the markers are taken away and the child cleans the wall. You get the picture (of course, sometimes the consequence is a bit less obvious than that). Spanking does not fit into this notion. Niether do arbitrary groundings, time outs or other privilege removals. If an (older) child is not able to be reasonable, is yelling and screaming at everyone, then they are sent to a room to collect themselves if they are unwilling for a parent to help them.

    So I guess you could say we parent without “punishment,” but our children certainly know when they’ve done something that they need to make right. We hope that this will help them develop the skills Vicki referred to way back in #2 about being internally motivated to behave/make right choices, not trying to avoid punishments.

    We are not perfect, but this is what we strive for, and it seems to be working pretty well so far (they are almost 6 and almost 9)

  49. Andrea Wright
    April 21, 2005 at 10:38 am

    Claire, I share your philosophy and find it effective when there is a clear consequence to put into play (like the cleaning up the mess they made by writing on the wall with markers), but it also makes me more frustrated and apt to lose my patience when I see no consequence to put into play. For example, when I’m trying to herd my kids into the car and desperately trying not to be late and they are being stubborn and uncooperative. I can’t send them to time out or say they can’t go — we have to go. I think those situation are when a lot of people threaten or carry out a spanking. I don’t spank, but I have been known to raise my voice and go into high gear lecture mode which I’ll be the first to tell you is ineffective.

    I think many people would spank, yell, grab, etc. less if we had a better solution in some tricky scenarios.

  50. Julie in Austin
    April 21, 2005 at 11:32 am

    I think many people would spank, yell, grab, etc. less if we had a better solution in some tricky scenarios.

    amen, sister. this is exactly the kind of scenario that frustrates me. What is the logical consequence of picking your nose or hitting your brother?

  51. April 21, 2005 at 11:35 am

    I was spanked once — once — and I can’t say it changed my life, although I still remember the spanking quite well. The memory of what I’d done fades, but the punishment remains very vivid in my mind. I can’t help but think that it would have been better for me to retain the memory of the mistake rather than the punishment itself.

  52. claire
    April 21, 2005 at 12:53 pm

    Julie and Andrea, you are right on. Some ‘tricky scenarios’ make this notion hard to live with sometimes, but it’s sort of like the ‘get off your butt parenting’ someone mentioned earlier; yes, it’s harder to brainstorm a logical consequence than it is to lash out with verbal or physical punishment, and or course, like Julie said, when you are late, stressed, at wit’s end, those things are bound to happen once in a while. We have apologized to our kids, just like we expect them to apologize when they make a mistake.

    Let’s take Julie’s examples; picking your nose; well, that would usually only generate a comment in our family, like when you need to pick your nose, please do so in the bathroom with a kleenex and wash your hands. Kids are going to pick their noses; punishing them will not change that. Most (mis)behavior is in response to some sort of need; a toddler jumping on the couch will usually respond better to “we jump on the floor, and sit on the couch”-especially if accompanied by you jumping with them for a minute on the floor- than NO! You will be in time out if you jump on the couch again!
    Ok, hitting your brother. Sometimes the logical consequence is having to sit in the least desirable seat in the car (to be away from the brother); more direction/guidance that makes the child consider what is making him angry enough to hit, we do “rewind” sometimes and have the child act out a better choice like using words to communicate, or thinking up a way to make things right. Of course all this depends on whether you are talking about a 2 yo hitting a baby or 9 yo hitting a 7 yo.
    A lot of people would see our consequences as punishment if not giving it a closer examination, and it may be all a matter of semantics anyway, but it feels right for us.

  53. Nate Craig
    April 21, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    I must admit that I am a little different than most. My wife and I have two girls; a three year old and a 10 month old. I can safely say that I have never spanked our 10 month old (kinda goes without saying, really). As far as the 3 year old, I agree with Julie from Austin’s points and would like to add another. The reason that I will not spank my girls is that I do not want them to think that a man can hit girls. However, I am not saying that my wife cannot. I respect her autonomy and leave it up to her discretion.
    I really do not have some theoretical nor spiritual reason for my choice. It was something I thought about before and it seems to work pretty well. If we have a boy next, it might change. I don’t know

  54. Mark
    April 21, 2005 at 2:40 pm

    For what it’s worth – Gordon B. Hinckley grew up in a home where there was no spanking. I read that in his biography.

  55. April 21, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    I don’t thnk corporal punishment is ever necessary. We don’t spank either (though as someone mentioned I have been sorely tempted to…especially in the last coupld of days). My own experience with being spanked as a child was being angry that I was hit and it didn’t make me sorry for what I had done so much as just so hurt, physically and emotionally. We use time outs and they work, as well as taking away privileges. I am not saying it is the perfect way, or that spanking is necessarily child abuse, but I do know that when I have been tempted to spank it was not so much to TEACH my children something as the fact I was getting so angry I wanted to stop them from doing whatever it is they are doing. I have never been tempted to spank my children unless I was angry. Which tells me something. Hitting (anyone) is a violent action, often brought on by violent feelings. It doesn’t teach anything productive and we are appalled when an adult beats on another adult, but it’s ok to hit a child? Kind of a double standard I think. Adults can be charged and jailed or fined for physically hurting another person, but it is more acceptable to hit a small, defenseless child. I don’t know that it would be acceptable to the Lord.

    I have a question though, as well. Nate, you said you don’t want your girls thinking it was acceptable for a man to hit girls, but at the same time, should it be acceptable for a woman to hit girls? Or boys? Or a man to hit boys?

    It just bothers me that something that is acceptable when a child is young seems less acceptable as they get older, and yet it is the children who are unable to defend themselves, whereas an adult or a teenager is able to defend themselves.

    I think that children can be taught and disciplined without hitting. If Pres. Hinckley’s dad could do it, so can the rest of us (I sure would like to know his secret though).

  56. April 21, 2005 at 7:32 pm

    No spakning ever. There is never an appropriate time to use physical violence against another individual, least of all your child. We raised three daughters. The last of the three will be married in the temple in July. Three up three down. We used time out. People need to be taught self discipline and the best way to teach it is time out. Rules: time out needs to be age appropriate. 1 minute for every year of age. However, time begins when you’re quiet. Also, time out is in full view of others. Yet restricting the child from participating in normal activities. example:If you are watching a movie, put the childs back to the screen. This teaches the child that the world does not stop for them. When the remove themselves from society by not adhering to its rules, only the child suffers. Everyone else (except the mature responsible parent who is ther for consistency’s sake) goes on with enjoying their life. It is difficult at first, however, we have never regretted our choice of using timeout.

  57. M.J. Pritchett
    April 21, 2005 at 8:02 pm

    I discussed this thread last night with my 16-year old daughter who confirmed that she did not remember being spanked. I asked her what she thought of spanking. Her reply was that it may or may not teach kids to be good, but seemed sure to teach kids to be afraid of their parents (which she, naturally, took to be a bad thing).

  58. April 21, 2005 at 8:03 pm


    Does an emotional bruise count?

    Also, I agree that for some children physical punishment seems to be the only thing that will work, but in that case, you need to look at why. I have a brother who was a HORROR to discipline. Nothing worked with him. Literally nothing. Well, guess what, he is now an adult and he is Asperger’s. There was a reason “normal” discipline didn’t work. But then again, spanking didn’t teach him anything either. But then I don’t think spanking ever teaches much. Just promotes anger.

    And, to your other point, never spank during anger. I agree wholeheartedly, but at the same time, does anyone ever feel like spanking their child when they are calm and collected? If they do, oi, that’s harsh.

  59. annegb
    April 21, 2005 at 8:07 pm

    I haven’t read all the posts, so I hope I’m not out of kilter here, but there are times I prefer violence, although I regret most of my violence of the past. Let me give you two examples:

    My 4 year old grandson constantly ran out in the street in front of cars. We scolded him, we begged him, we tried to scare him, “Those cars will squish you like a bug.” He just said, “I will hit dose cars!” He really scared me one night when he ran out in front of a car in the dark, a close call. I started whopping him. He never cried, I never hurt him, but he felt my anger (which was really terror). I figured if I couldn’t scare him of the cars, he could be scared of me. He’s better now, and thank God, he never got hit.

    My Rowan, last year when she was three, kept getting into the woodstove. It was winter and there was a fire in it. She was intrigued and kept sneaking away from me trying to feed the fire. I heard her each time and scolded her and said, “no, no, that will burn you! That will hurt. Grandma says no.” She ignored me. Finally, I went in and grasped her firmly and gave her one solid whop, and said, “I said, no!” She stayed away from the stove after that. She didn’t cry, but her feelings were hurt. She just walked away and said, “I’m not your friend.” I answered, “bye, love you.” and she said, “bye, love you.” And went downstairs to play.

    Like I said, I regret my harsh treatment of my children, whippings are not appropriate, but a pop on the behind can get a kid’s attention and not hurt them or traumatize them.

  60. April 21, 2005 at 8:18 pm


    “(2) stronger people can get their way over weaker people
    (3) stronger people can punish weaker people”

    Every form of parent-child punishment sends these messages. Time out, taking away privileges, you name it. Parents and children are not equal. If a child is disobedient, the enforcement of any punishment ultimately boils down to who is stronger–physically, financially, whatever. Any kid knows that if he had the superior strength and powers of Superman, he could just fly away from the time-out chair, and mom and dad couldn’t stop him.

    Yes. I see the responded to argument all the time and have to bite my tongue some times.

    1. If it leaves a bruise, you’ve gone too far.
    2. Whatever punishment you threaten a child with, follow through, even if you’re at the supermarket. Don’t threaten if you aren’t willing to actually do it.
    3. Infliction of pain should be brief and dissapate quickly. Prolonged twisting of arms, etc. are not appropriate.
    4. Don’t use physical punishment while you’re still angry.
    5. Physical punishment isn’t appropriate for some kids, but for others, nothing else will get through.
    6. Lighten up and stop trying to micromanage your kid. This will dramatically cut down on the number of times you feel compelled to punish.

    Even more right.

    Kim, I’m not an advocate of spanking (nor much of a foe–it is easy to have no position on a subject that is irrelevant to me), but I don’t see how what you say about spanking would be different for a different kind of punishment.


    Children are very different as are the ways they react to punishment. What is interesting is to watch the way NCAA football players are disciplined. Now, compare that to NFL players.

    I’ve had children with vastly different attitudes and responses to punishment. I, myself, was never bothered by time outs. I took them as a reward, not a punishment. The same is true of one of my brothers. My youngest brother, on the other hand, never got in trouble for anything he saw someone else get in trouble for doing.

    Brusing from spanking? My gosh, that is a lot harder than I would find acceptable. The point of a spanking is a short, brief, discipline. My five year old, all I have to do is tell her “attend” and touch her on the nose. She gets the point. My sixteen year old, when she was younger, when she got a spanking, I’d slap my thigh in order to get some sound volume out of it. She didn’t need pain, just the “shock” (and yes, obviously I didn’t spank her for more than 2 or 3 spanks).

    Interesting to read here. Too often we draw universal conclusions from the behavior of small subsets.

    But in a hard, painful world of difficult labor, time outs don’t work. In our modern society, where we don’t sleep on the ground with our one set of clothes on top of us for a covering, we are perhaps better off disciplining our children in a different way.

  61. April 21, 2005 at 9:30 pm

    They say spanking can cure alcoholism and depression. Perhaps spanking children can pre-empt future problems. Let’s experiment. I know of several deserving candidates.

  62. Seth Rogers
    April 21, 2005 at 10:03 pm

    “Seth, Does an emotional bruise count?”

    If you’ve got your kid’s psyche figured out well enough to know when you’re inflicting emotional bruises, then you’re way ahead of the pack here. By the way, my kid brother is autistic. He didn’t even register pain (though I’m sure he felt it). Made it hard for my parents to read him. That is, until he was diagnosed. Then my mom stopped trying to discipline him at all. I tended to resent this as a teenager. But he seems to have turned out relatively alright as an adult. So maybe mom was right.

  63. VeritasLiberat
    April 21, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    “Which is worse, if both are bad – the spanked child or the Proza-ced child?”

    I wonder if there’s a connection between being spanked and slapped as a child, and needing antidepressants to deal with persistent feelings of worthlessness and isolation later in life.

  64. Jim F.
    April 21, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    VeritasLiberat: I wonder if there’s a connection between being spanked and slapped as a child, and needing antidepressants to deal with persistent feelings of worthlessness and isolation later in life..

    Until relatively recent times, it was very common to spank children and, unfortunately, not that unusual to beat them. Were the connection you suggest real, we would expect that almost everyone prior to about thirty years ago would have needed anti-depressants, but there’s no evidence that the need for them was greater then than now.

    That’s not an argument that spanking is all right, just an argument against the connection you make between spanking and depression.

  65. Steve S
    April 21, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    If I could do everything over again, I would do my best to avoid spanking. In General Conference in 1994, President Hinckley said, “I have never accepted the principle of “spare the rod and spoil the child.” By the time my children were too old for spanking to be a question at all, our pediatrician always wore a button with the words, “It is never OK to hit a child.” I think that this includes spanking, and I think that she was right, or at least very close to right.

  66. edwardsson
    April 22, 2005 at 4:34 am

    Yeah, employ reasoning with a three year old about why they should avoid the dangerous dog tied up in your neighbor’s yard. Tell them about canine psychology as well as the physiological disadvantages of approaching the dog.

    Then when he/she ventures into the neighbor’s yard and the dog bites off a few of their fingers then you go ahead and sue your neighbor. That’s responsible parenting, isn’t it?

    Then again, a good swat on the behind to associate going towards the neighbor’s dog with pain…I don’t know; a sore rear end for a few minutes or a lifetime without several fingers. Help me out here on this.

  67. April 22, 2005 at 6:57 am


    It depends on the child.

    Some children make certain connections, some don’t.

    My five year old is bright. She taught herself to read when she was four and reached about a second grade level (my sister-in-law assessed her while visiting, I wasn’t sure whether or not to be annoyed or not). But, she has an almost impossible task in not believing she can run through parking lots safely. She is just sure she is going to get it right. No amount of talking gets through to her on that point. She is just so sure she can figure it out and that the universe loves her.

    On the other hand, when I refer to spanking her, I’m referring to a single swat, less than once a month. That is all it takes, especially since she doesn’t like it and knows I don’t like it either.

    I’ve had kids who spanking wouldn’t phase. Jessica for example. She really didn’t care much about pain (perhaps if I had it in my heart to be able to spank like some of the people discuss it, I don’t know, I couldn’t do it). She would put a pillow case over her head and run blind through the house. If she ran into something, that was ok. Drove me crazy. Other kids, spanking, even pretend spanking (where you hold the kid in the spanking position, swat them while slapping your thigh to get some sound), really affected them.

    I don’t know. I do know that all children are not the same, and that it takes vastly different approaches depending on the kid.

  68. Julie in Austin
    April 22, 2005 at 9:43 am


    The problem with your scenario is thus: even if your three-year-old had been spanked for it, would you therefore feel completely safe allowing him near rabid dogs, intersections, hot stoves, etc., etc., or would you still feel the need to monitor the child in those situations?

    I suspect that all parents realize that you still need to watch your kids; that one spanking doesn’t provide perfect immunity from them repeating the behavior. And, while not all spanking parents operate this way, I have noticed that most spank instead of explaining. In that case, they are providing less immunity to rabid dogs than the parent who gets down at the child’s eye level, looks at him, says in a stern voice, “No, no, doggie will give you bad owie. No, no.” and then redirects the child into an activity a safe distance from the dog. Both parents still have to watch their kids, but one is providing the beginnings of understanding why to stay away from the dog, the other is hoping the child will make the connection. (But if you have had kids, you know they’re weird, and just as likely to think they got spanked because the grass was brown if you didn’t take time to explain otherwise.)

  69. Kaimi -TEST
    April 22, 2005 at 11:35 am


  70. April 22, 2005 at 12:06 pm


  71. Ivan Wolfe
    April 22, 2005 at 9:19 pm

    The main reason I am conflicted about spanking is that I really don’t like the idea of physical harm to a child,
    yet as Jim F. points out, pretty much everyone above a certain age was spanked and most of them have turned into functional citizens with few problems. I don’t totally buy the arguments about all the major psychological damage done to kids by spanking (as well as all the bad lessons it teaches) when most everyone I know who was spanked as a kid seems just fine, and often more well-adjusted than many people who weren’t. Heck, I was spanked as a kid and so were all my siblings, and we’re all (except for one possible exception) more or less well-adjusted productive citizens who don’t take anti-depressents and see violence as a last resort. (Of course, my dad spanking us with his hand was a step down from his parents, who saw a 2×4 as the best method for discipline).

    What I wonder is: Why spanking? Why is a swat on the butt more acceptable than a smack on the leg, foot or arm? Is there some reason, i.e. a swat on the butt carries less risk of damage, or is it just an obvious target?

  72. April 22, 2005 at 10:21 pm

    I don’t think the question of whether spanking causes emotional trauma for life is really an issue. Obviously it doesn’t have to. But the point is, is hitting a child the right thing to do? I keep remembering what the Saviour has said, that anyone who harms these little ones, it is better that a millstone was hung about his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea. I think this refers to emotional, mental and physical.

    And still, I don’t see why it is alright to hit a child and yet not alright to hit an adult. Like I have already said, a true double standard. At least the adult can understand why he is being struck.

  73. May 6, 2005 at 3:22 am

    My point is simple and if it does not affect you in some way, perhaps you should consider sterilization. Why would you want to hit your child? I am a mother of three and have only spaked one child (the eldest) one time. I then realized not only the pointlessness of hitting my baby (who was 3 at the time), but the reality of spanking. Hitting someone is a violent act. When you hit your children you’re telling them two things 1) If I’m mad it’s okay to hit, and 2) Family violence is accaptable. Also, to you mothers out there whom have severe difficulty with disciplining your children without resorting to striking them, perhaps you should not have so many.

  74. annegb
    May 6, 2005 at 9:40 am

    I have worried about this thread and my post, that you guys would think I am always smacking my grandchildren and what kind of grandma that would make me. I’ve really only swatted them once, on their diapers, when what they did was dangerous to them. I love them dearly and they always cry when they have to go home.

    Rachel, and others, I think I understand your abhorrence of spanking. I was raised in an abusive home, where not spankings, whippings, and terrible hurt was the norm. I passed that on to my older children, mostly by way of emotional abuse, but nevertheless. It took years of struggle to overcome my demons, and my youngest child does not know the person who raised her older brothers and sisters. I am different now, but I will always live with the anguish and regret of my actions.

    Despite all that, I think a good hard swat on the behind can communicate to a child who is determined to put that cord in her mouth or run out into the street when a car is coming far better than a million words of reason.

  75. ALW
    January 8, 2006 at 12:36 am

    I caution all parents who spank. I have always spanked my kids when nothing else seems to work. I won’t ever again though. Their Dad left a little bruise on my 3 1/2 yr olds bottom and now he is sitting in jail and the kids have been placed with my parents. The laws just don’t allow it anymore. It is so easy to accidently leave a bruise and then you get booked with a felony and hope the DA reduces it. Then you have to go through a whole Planned counseling thing under the watch of a case worker from the CPS. They can do random searches of your home, but you agree to this because otherwise you won’t get you children back.

    I thought these laws were in place for children who were being beaten, and there unfortunately too many. We have no rights as parents anymore. I will never spank my child again out of fear of going to jail. CPS should be spending their time and money on those who really need it. Even the cop thought Dad just spanked a little to hard this time but knew he loves the kids and they love him but still arrested him with $35,000.00 bond.

    How do you get out of this situation without the kids feeling as if Dad beat them and now we can’t see him or Mom? CPS is screwing with their heads worse than a spanking ever would.

  76. January 9, 2006 at 9:43 am

    I read a lot of comments regarding spanking children – most are from parents who admit to doing this now and again, ‘a small tap to a young childs bottom’ as a last resort. Yet there is another side of ‘spanking’ which involves violence and abuse. I’ve heard of children being beaten/spanked with everything from flex and poles to even a table leg. Is this still spanking – yes, is it abusive – yes. It all depends on a persons definition of spanking. As adults, and we all make mistakes – how would you like it if an adult spanked you?

  77. Andrea
    May 18, 2006 at 2:51 am

    Many well-meaning parents who spank are simply unaware of the research that is now available on the subject. They don’t do it out of cruelty. Nor have they researched the subject themselves and found spanking children to be the best, most effective way to discipline. They just copy what their own well-meaning parents did. However, with all the resources that are available to us in this day and age, there is no excuse not to learn new methods, and utilize them to our children’s full advantge.
    This research may provide some insight into why many child advocacy organizations, such as Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE), are so fiercely opposed to the spanking of children:

    But the thing that brings me the most sorrow is how spanking impacted my sexuality. This is so personal to talk about but it is necessary. The sexual aspect of spanking is something that is not addressed by many anti-spanking activists. Susan

    It takes great courage to face the issues of spanking, especially spanking as sexual abuse…the nospank web site is the first place outside my therapy that the sexual aspect of physical violence associated with “spanking� is acknowledged…From personal experience I can validate the reality of spanking as sexual abuse. Tina B.

    Ignorance is no longer an excuse. One just has to type “spanking” in one of the various search engines on the net to see how sexually charged this practice is and how many adults my age have been affected just like I was. I finally came to terms with it about the time I graduated college when I read some book {forgot the title} that warned parents against spanking because of it’s connection to the erogenous zones. I realized then, for the first time in my life, that my “secret problem” was far more widespread than just me. Martin

    “Advocates of corporal punishment should examine very carefully the weight of evidence now available and, particularly in light of the pornographic component, consider whether they can justify the continuation of a system with such a capacity for exciting unhealthy interest.�
    British Psychological Society, “Report on Corporal Punishment in Schools� (1980)

    These findings appear to fall into line with what Gordon B. Hinckley has said:

    I am satisfied that such punishment in most instances does more damage than good…I recently read a biography of George H. Brimhall, who at one time served as president of Brigham Young University. Concerning him, someone said that he reared “his boys with a rod, but it [was] a fishing rod� That says it all.Gordon B. Hinckley, “Save the Children,� Ensign, Nov. 1994, 52

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