Myths and Facts: Spanking

Myths and Facts: Spanking

“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.”
~Haim G. Ginott

I recently posted about a family who has paddles with their children’s names inscribed on them to use for corporal punishment. The conversation that resulted was very interesting. A few things stuck out and will be addressed here.

Myth: “It happened to me and I turned out fine.”

Fact: If you are completely honest and take a hard, raw look at how corporal punishment effected you psychologically and emotionally, you may find that is not true. There will be lasting effects to this type of discipline. How you react to others, to situations, the way you feel about the world around you, and definitely in how you may parent your own children. Be honest with yourself.

“But in a new study published in Pediatrics, researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet that children’s short-term response to spanking may make them act out more in the long run. Of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5.”

“The study, led by community-health-sciences professor Catherine Taylor, was the first to control for a host of issues affecting the mother, such as depression, alcohol and drug use, spousal abuse and even whether she considered abortion while pregnant with the child. After controlling for all these factors — each of which can contribute to a child’s aggression — spanking remained a strong predictor of violent behavior. “The odds of a child being more aggressive at age 5 increased by 50% if he had been spanked more than twice in the month before the study began,” says Taylor.”

Read more here.


spanking with love

Myth: “Spanking out of love, instead of anger is different.”

Fact: Hitting is hitting  and feels the same to the child no matter if you have love or anger in your heart.

But, you say, “I don’t spank my child that often or that hard. Most of the time I show him lots of love and gentleness. An occasional swat on the bottom won’t bother him.” This rationalization holds true for some children, but other children remember spanking messages more than nurturing ones. You may have a hug-hit ratio of 100:1 in your home, but you run the risk of your child remembering and being influenced more by the one hit than the 100 hugs, especially if that hit was delivered in anger or unjustly, which happens all too often.  ~Ask Dr. Sears


Myth: “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” This is in the Bible…it defends spanking!

Fact: Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” The Hebrew word for rod in this proverb describes a scepter or staff. A scepter was a large ornately carved staff that was a symbol of authority. The first time the word appears is in Genesis 49:10.

John 21:15-17

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Feed the babies, the vulnerable lambies… take good care of them. Feed them the Word, feed them the Truth. Nurture my love for them.

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

Take good CARE of the sheep as they grow. Protect them, guide them, pull them aside if they are wounded or being naughty. CARE for them.

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

Never stop nourishing my followers with the Word, the Truth. Find them healthy sustenance, lead them to green pastures where they will thrive and grow and be useful.

More on this here.


Myth: “Corporal punishment teaches respect.”

Fact: It teaches fear and becomes ineffective.

“The reason for this may be that spanking sets up a loop of bad behavior. Corporal punishment instills fear rather than understanding. Even if children stop tantrums when spanked, that doesn’t mean they get why they shouldn’t have been acting up in the first place. What’s more, spanking sets a bad example, teaching children that aggressive behavior is a solution to their parents’ problems.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse spanking under any circumstance. It’s a form of punishment that becomes less effective with repeated use, according to the AAP; it also makes discipline more difficult as the child outgrows it.”

Read more here.

Myth: “Children respond best to pain and disapproval.” (Yes, this was said on our BWF Facebook page).

Fact: Pain and disapproval creates harm…physically, mentally and emotionally.

“What do we say to a guest who forgets her umbrella?

Do we run after her and say, “What is the matter with you? Every time you come to visit you forget something. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Why can’t you be like your sister? When she comes to visit, she knows how to behave. You’re forty-four years old! Will you never learn? I’m not a slave to pick up after you! I bet you’d forget your head if it weren’t attached to your shoulders.” That’s not what we say to a guest. We say “Here’s your umbrella, Alice,” without adding “scatterbrain.”

Parents need to learn to respond to their children as they do to guests.”
Haim G. Ginott, Between Parent and Child: The Bestselling Classic That Revolutionized Parent-Child Communication


Before spanking, swatting or popping your child, think about how this will effect them long term. How each human being will react and be effected by hitting differently. How choosing to use corporal punishment will create resentment, fear and mistrust in your relationship with your child. There are many different parenting styles.  Children need guidance, direction, unconditional love, choices and consequences and consistency. If you try something, don’t give up too soon. Stick it out…it will be worth it.

“By now you should realize that our position on spanking is simple: don’t.”
~Dr. Sears

16 thoughts on “Myths and Facts: Spanking

  1. I was a kid that got spanked DAILY. And seriously, I mean every damn day. When I went to college, I got my degree in Behavioral Science.

    This taught me two very important things when it comes to punishment:

    1. Spanking is so unnecessary. There are so so soooo many other ways to get your child to behave the way you want them to. It takes some creativity and staying at least one step ahead at all times. So in all honesty, I think spanking is the lazy way out. If you do your job right, FROM THE BEGINNING you most likely won’t have to spank your kids.

    And 2. Being that I got spanked sooooo much, I recently asked my mom why. She said that it was the “most effective” way of punishing me. My education taught me that the word “punisher” is defined as a consequence for undesirable behavior that results in a decrease of that behavior. So, in essence, if you spanked your kid once or twice, their “bad” behavior will decrease. So, if you’re spanking often, what you’re doing isn’t actually a punisher at all.

    I believe very strongly that there are UNLIMITED methods of teaching your children how to behave without resorting to corporal punishment. So I guess my main message here is that as parents, you need to think outside of the box, get creative and focus on positive reinforcement in any and all situations.

    1. Totally agreed. My brothers got spanked daily as well, and if you think about it it was not effective in the least, or it would not have been so frequent. I think the thing they both wanted out of our father was respect, but he was unwilling to give it. They were willing to take the whoopings as a way of exerting control over him.

  2. I am a reformed spanker. I am a mom to a 13 year old, 5 year old, and 3 year old. I have only recently, within the last year, stopped spanking. I was raised in a family that everyone was spanked. Its just how you did things. I used to think non spankers were parents who ignored their children because they didn’t want to discipline them. After reading many many articles, talking to a lot of parents, and having my own internal battle, I’ve realized that ultimately, spanking was my own inability to deal with my kids behavior. After implementing some of the positive parenting techniques, the power struggles have stopped. The lashing out has stopped, I’ve become a calmer parent, my kids are happier and we are able to work things out in a better way that doesn’t leave me feeling frustrated, angry and like crap (because I ALWAYS felt guilty after spanking). There are less temper tantrums in our house and more talking it through. I’m not saying that everything is perfect because we all have our bad days but I’ve had to realize that my kids are allowed to have bad days just as much as I am. I spent a lot of time trying to justify spanking to others, but in reality, I was trying to justify it to myself. I’m very happy that I quit making excuses and decided to give something else a try. My family is much happier for it.

  3. “child” disciplining Bear Bear. ‘Nooo naughty! Do you want a smack?…. Nuther one? NUTHER ONE?!!!’ No idea what Bear Bear did
    posted on facebook and the saddest part, people commented it was cute

  4. Thank you for this post. I was spanked as a child and it truly wounded my spirit. I was never a “bad” kid by any stretch. Spanking was just the punishment handed down in my house. I did not understand it then, and I don’t understand it now. All it taught me was if I did not do what the big people said, I would be hit.

    I knew early on that if I ever had children, my home would be a place of learning, correction and guidance and their would be consequences (just like in “real life”) but never would spanking be an option.

    I can say, parenting is a challenging job but never once have I even considered spanking my child. It brings tears to my eyes to even think of it. Not that it is exactly the same thing, but we have two dogs and we do not hit them either.

    I am happy to say that with both my husband and myself, the cycle of spanking, acting out of anger/rage and verbal abuse has ended with our generation. This is something we discussed very early on and both had strong feelings about creating a home that governed as peacefully as possible. I do not claim to be a perfect parent but these are not even options in our parenting style.

    Knowing that spanking is off the table has not only improved my relationship with my child but also with my husband as we parent creatively. I feel so free knowing that spanking will not be a part of the equation in our home.

    I do not judge other parents who spank; however, it is not allowed in my home, ever. We had someone over and they went to spank their child in my presence and I informed them, that I did not allow that to happen on my watch, in my home. They promptly stormed off and have not spoken to me since. But I know I did the right thing.

  5. Hey BWF, I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your blog and FB page. My hubby and I are currently trying to concieve our first child and I have so many questions and concerns. We plan to have a natural home birth with a midwife, doula and pool and we know no one who has done it that way, so it’s all new territory for us. It’s a huge gift from the universe to have strong, intelligent women all over the web to guide me through a healthy future pregnancy and birth. I don’t know what i’d do without all you wisdom!! THANK YOU & keep up the amazing work in this caring, beautiful, supportive environment for all us women out there who have or will BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR!!!

  6. While I very much agree with many of you that spanking is the lazy way out of discipline, I have to take a moment to put in my 2 cents about this.
    Many parents honestly do not know how to discipline their children whether they are typical or have special needs. Landrie made a good point that it takes creativity and time, but many parents don’t know where to start, how to go about it, or are too embarrassed to ask for help. Please keep in mind that very few parents have the education and “bag of tricks” that we do.Even though I have worked with these students for seven years, I still sit home at night wondering what other ways I can approach a need.
    I see both sides of the discipline spectrum, but do I think that spanking (when used sparingly as a consequence for severe behavior) is going to give a child a complex? No. I don’t.

  7. I am a new mother to a wonderful 9 month old boy. I was raised in a home where spanking was the form of punishment for severe offenses. But I remember dreading the “talks” more than the spankings. I am just exploring the alternatives to spanking and don’t really know where to start. I see some kids who aren’t spanked and are essentially wild, while others who are are not. Any suggestions on where to start looking for said alternatives? Most people that I’ve found who are against “corporal punishment” are passionate, but don’t give me more than their opposing opinions. Thanks.

  8. I was spanked as a kid. I used to tell my mom that it was abusive & she of course disagreed. One day when I was 12 the fear was gone & I decided to fight back. My mom on many occassions would lose it. It got so bad that I pulled a steak knife out to keep her away. We then got into a huge fight where I felt as though my life was in danger. My parents had recently separated & so I ran away to live with my father. It took years for me to forgive her, but I have. I caught myself a few times smacking my son’s hand when he has bitten me. It really hurt me that I reacted that way, like a reflex. I always swore I would never do that. My mom would yell all the time too & I’ve found myself to be that way too. I’m really trying hard to correct this behavior myself & am finding it hard at times. So I can empathize with those who were raised a certain way & parenting the same, but I would think that most parents are trying to better themselves & learn to do better. I want to be a more peaceful parent & I am trying my hardest & I won’t give up until I am.

  9. spanking is stupid. I have a child, who is grown now, I never hit him or yelled at him, I would just explain to him that whatever it was he was doing was not a good idea, or it was mean or cruel, or whatever. Usually after I explained to him WHY he was not supposed to do something, he would say OK and that would be it. He was just a really good kid.
    I remember getting the crap beat out of me when I was a kid, and never knowing WHY I was in trouble. It just made me dislike my mother, She died 6 years ago, and I still dislike her.I want my children to love me and I want to nurture and teach them, by example. That is the best way to tech your children, by example. Spanking does not work at all, it teaches violence and hatred and resentment. I teach with Love.

  10. I was spanked occasionally as a child … and 2 years ago I left an abusive marriage. When it came to disciplining my children i though “how can I raise my children to understand that violence is unacceptable if I hit them?” … so I don’t

  11. Normally I agree with articles on this website, but I have to say that with this being such a hot topic, I hate that there is so much guilt put on parents for disciplining the way they think is acceptable. Most of the points here I feel like are personal perspective and not fact. I was sparingly spanked as a child in situations that DEFINITELY called for it. It was always done in private, with my clothes on, with a wooden spoon and NEVER with a hand. I was always explained things to and I knew the reason why I was receiving discipline. Me and my husband agree that it is necessary in some situations and I absolutely hate that people attack us for doing what we think is best.

    I also was a nanny for years, and the children that never received spankings or discipline were the children that were the most rude and most abusive to me (calling me names, hitting me, throwing things at me). The ones that received discipline and spanking in situations that called for it were the ones that were the most respectful and kindest kids. You can’t just talk to your kids and expect them to know that there are real life consequences for their bad behavior.

    1. Interesting how we have such different experience, b/c I have found the opposite in children that have and have not been spanked, but it depends on the the other ways they are parented as well. Our children are not spanked and would never treat people how you say you see non spanked children act. Why? Because we simply teach them through our example and talking and other consequences how to treat people with love and respect. No spanking needed.

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