Carina has been typing on the internets before there was a www in front of everything. This is why she’s cranky and wants to know when you’ll get off her lawn. She resides in a hopelessly outdated home in the Mountain West with a mathematician and three children hell-bent on destruction. Her laundry is not done, but her Twitter is totally up to date. Carina does not have a Tumblr, because get serious.

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Have You Spanked Your Child?

By now you’ve probably seen the terrible, awful video of the Texas Judge physically abusing his daughter (TRIGGER WARNING) who has cerebral palsy. I only watched about a minute of the video; it goes on for seven more minutes. I couldn’t take another second. This is a clear-cut case of child abuse, in my opinion.

On the other hand, I’ve spanked my kids. Not all at once, and only a few times. I might spank them again, although I hope I don’t have to. Let me define what I mean: an open hand, never an object, not more than once or twice, never a baby or toddler, not after the age of 6. Spanking a baby or toddler is a bad, bad idea and spanking an older child is both ineffective AND leads to teens that have issues. I once saw a man spank his 9 month old baby and, frankly, I never spoke to him again and I avoided his wife thereafter.

I do think that spanking is a tool in the discipline kit, and that separates me from many, many of you who view spanking as flat out abuse. Spanking isn’t my first resort, or my second, third, fourth, or fifth, it is dead last. I will try everything else before I use spanking. I’ve also used spanking when the child’s action was extremely dangerous (one child got a spank after ingesting prescription medication that occasioned our first call to Poison Control.)

I don’t think every child needs to be spanked; there are plenty of kids for whom non-corporal disciplines are totally effective. I hope that’s your kid. I hope it’s my kids. But it seems that there is a short window when spanking IS effective and MAY be an appropriate response to halt truly egregious behavior that will not respond to any other method.

Why do I bring it up? Especially considering how I might get eviscerated for this admission?

We should be talking about this issue because studies show that more than 90% of American parents have spanked their children.

Does that mean that the vast majority of our children are being abused? I don’t think it does. So let’s get real about this: Can you spank a child and stop? Have you ever spanked in anger and regretted it? Do we frown on spanking simply because parents take it too far? Have you stopped using spanking because you didn’t see a change of behavior? Are you afraid to admit publicly that you’ve spanked your child?


Related Posts:

When Discipline Becomes Anger and Creates Fear

Climbing Great Heights: On Discipline and Small Battles


Children’s Perspectives on Spanking



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Comments (11)

  1. Natlie 02/10/2017 at 12:47 pm

    I think it’s wrong when Every one spanks a baby when it’s too young they don’t know better. My Nefew rely don’t know how too become a Father becouse his Father didn’t know eather well. His Wife him has too work who’s stuck baby sitting the 2 & Baby . Well I got on my Nefew not too spank the baby becouse he didn’t know better why being spank. My Nefew says knows well. I like too see them do some ing about it. Also he Wife made when her baby went big pants the Wife let her sit in poop for a hour I told her nothing .

  2. Dee 11/14/2011 at 2:10 pm

    I’ve spanked twice, both times when I was angry over behavior and felt terrible both times. It just is a silly response to bad behavior, IMO. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the behavior, so I don’t really see the point. I can remember being spanked – and how ANGRY it made me. Not fearful of doing whatever it was again, but ANGRY. And UNLOVED. I don’t ever want my son to feel that way, and I apologized both times it happened – it was during those intense times when we both should’ve gone to our respective corners. (Unfortunately, my son often does not stay in his.) My son also has ADHD, and spanking and really any kind of anger is counter-productive. He needs to cool down, he needs to understand why it’s wrong, and he needs motivation not to do it. (Not a threat.)

  3. Melissa A. 11/14/2011 at 12:48 pm

    We spank at my house, but we also explain why they are getting a spanking, after verbal warnings. Of course my children are older now, but in very rare instances, they still get a swat on the behind for disobedience. The bible says “spare the rod, spoil the child”. I also believe there is a point that goes too far with spanking. I haven’t seen the video in question yet, but by some of the other comments, I may not want to.
    I babysat children years ago, that were not spanked, they did time out, and it worked for them then. I can say, that some of those children, have anger issues today, and he/she was never spanked.

  4. Melody Newey 11/12/2011 at 9:08 am

    I spanked a few times when I and my children were younger. But then I grew up.

    If I had grown up before I had children I NEVER ever would have spanked.

  5. Sue M 11/07/2011 at 12:53 pm

    I haven’t spanked, but I’ve hand slapped for dangerous things (playing with the oven, running out into a busy street, etc.). Only a handful of times. OK, maybe two handfuls. (Hey, I have four kids.) Unfortunately it was usually when I was angry/panicked – which I realize is exactly the time when you shouldn’t do it. I think if you are gong to spank it should be when you aren’t angry.

    I don’t like to spank because I think it teaches them to hit when they’re angry. My dad used to spank us and sometimes whip us with a belt. I don’t remember anything about what he was trying to teach me or what I did to earn the spanking, I just remember hating him for it. And being afraid of him.

    I’m a big believer in time-out and punishments that fit the crime.

  6. Erica Fehrman 11/07/2011 at 12:51 pm

    We spank after continued warnings, time-out, etc…basically when the child is being willfully defiant. Things rarely go that far, though. Never use a belt or other implement, and there’s usually a time-out for everyone before the spank comes. The situation in the video is sickening and I can’t imagine handling anyone that you love in that way. How very frightening and sad.

  7. Leigh 11/07/2011 at 12:24 pm

    I once hit my daughter after she hit her baby sister. Will never do it again, did not even mean to at the time. While I don’t think spanking is child abuse, I also do not believe it to be a useful discipline tool. First of all, what is it teaching our children? That when you have power you are allowed to hit (but only in a thoughtful, non-angry way) Second, many studies have shown that the more you spank the more you have to, and the harder you have to. Each time the child becomes more resistant to it, and so it has to be harder. Finally I think it is hard for us to really understand how far we take it. A recent study done (I think at Duke) followed several parents and taped them to see how often they yelled. These parents all said that they only used spanking as a last resort, but the taping showed that spanking was used far more often than the parents would have said.

    I am really glad you are talking about this. When something is done but not discussed, it will never change. I hope that we are moving towards a society where spanking is not something a parent would do because they would have so many other tools in their tool box, and they would know it to be ineffectual in the long run.

    Thank you

  8. vanessa 11/07/2011 at 9:21 am

    I never will because of how far spanking went in my home growing up. All the girls in our family have horrible issues with men and not a great relationship with our father. He would use a belt and scream while doing it. I have well behaved kids that I am proud of and I didn’t need to hit them to get them to be wonderful kids.

    I have a brother in law that will spank his sons, calmly, once after telling them why. He won’t do it to his girls. I really feel like a man should never hit his little girls in any way. And personally am against spanking all together.

  9. Jennifer D. 11/07/2011 at 9:08 am

    We do spank at our house, but just like you, it is either as the last resort or if they are doing something dangerous. Our daughter is 7 and obviously doesn’t get spanked anymore. Our son is 18 months and too young. We use time outs with him or redirection. He does understand what no means though he likes to push our buttons 🙂 For the older one, we don’t have to do much. She is very well behaved and usually just talking to her will take care of any problems. We don’t spank in anger and have never taken it too far. Usualy it is 1-2 swanks with an open hand, never any kind of implement.

    My parents spanked too within reason and yes, it got my attention. I don’t think it affected me in a negative way though. I think it is a discipline tool. I won’t do it in public though. People make judgements without knowing the situation.

    I watched that video and was absolutely horrified. That poor child. The father was out of control and what is worse is he is a judge in abuse cases!

  10. Melissa 11/07/2011 at 8:21 am

    I’ve used the spanking before & probably less than a handful of times. I’m a firm believer in using words & the time out. The spanking is a last resort, too. I don’t spank hard & I don’t spank more than once. It’s surprising/scary how effective even the lightest tap on the bum is.

    I couldn’t watch more than a few seconds of that video. It’s so heartbreaking that a parent would treat his own child that way. I need to go vomit now.

  11. Randy Tayler 11/07/2011 at 8:19 am

    Have spanked, will again. The rule in our house: NO SPANKING IF YOU’RE ANGRY. Spanks are controlled, and forewarned, and definitely followed up on: “Do I need to give you a spanking? I’m gonna count to 3.” We also follow up with them to make sure they understand why they were spanked; they usually get it.

    Our default punishment, however, is just sending them to their room for 30 seconds. They hate it, and warning them that it’s coming is usually plenty.

    Some behavior is simply unacceptable — we lock people away in jail for crimes — and there needs to be a punishment that will successfully deter the child. I was spanked, but I have no doubt my parents loved me. I’m certainly not scarred by it.