Myths and Facts: Spanking

by Birth Without Fear on December 17, 2011

“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


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