Should Parents Spank Their Kids?

By: Samantha Hall

There is much controversy on the topic of disciplining a child. Many say that spanking should not be allowed, while others think that spanking is an effective form of discipline for children. There is a fine line between giving a kid a quick spanking out of love and discipline, and taking out anger on them and hitting them everytime they make a mistake. Spanking is a form of discipline that can work on kids, but only as a last resort, and with good reason. Spanking a child is okay when absolutely necessary, and spanking should be the only form of physical discipline that a parent should use. 

Spanking should be administered to a child only when absolutely necessary. If a child purposefully and repeatedly breaks a rule, defies the authority of the parent, and/or acts on an unacceptable behavior, then it is acceptable to escort the child to a private room and spank them once. Spanking a child more than once at a time is going overboard and can result in feelings of fear and even more bad behavior from the kid. TIME.com states that, “…[w]e advise parents that corporal discipline should only be applied in cases of willful disobedience or defiance of authority—never for mere childish irresponsibility. And it should never be administered harshly, impulsively, or with the potential to cause physical harm.” Spanking should be used only as a last resort, but never as a first reaction. 

As an example, let’s say the child draws on the wall. A good technique to use is the 1-2-3 system. Strike one would be a timeout. The kid is sent to a timeout area in a private room, and they will receive a warning that if they do it again, they will have to help clean up the walls. Strike two would be the kid helping to clean up the mess. Then the kid is warned that if they do it a third time, they will receive a spanking. Strike three is when the parent takes their child to a private room where there’s no people, and gives them one, good spanking. Studies also show that spanking could benefit kids. At Calvin College, researchers interviewed 179 students and found that kids who were spanked by their parents performed better at school, and were more likely to grow up happier and healthier than children who didn’t get spanked. “Teenagers who were spanked up to age six reported that they were more successful in school, more interested in attending university, more likely to work as volunteers and more positive about life…” the Calvin researchers concluded.

While spanking can be considered an effective form of discipline, there are many reasons why it’s not. One thing to consider is that spanking can teach a kid that it is OK to hit someone when angry. This idea, which can be enforced by spanking, can cause them to get into lots of trouble when at school, playdates, and even at home. Spanking can also teach the child how NOT to get caught when they are breaking a rule. “Rather than teaching children more positive alternative behaviors, spanking merely teaches them how to avoid getting caught. Spanking may also teach kids that an effective response to feeling angry is to become aggressive” explains Lauren O’Donnell from the Nemours Children’s Health website.  Spanking doesn’t tell the kid why they’re in trouble and why they’re being punished, it’s telling them that their parent does not want to see them doing something, so they find ways to not get caught. “Spanking can be humiliating for children, and cause anger, aggression, and resentment, as well as physical harm. Spanking often does not teach the lesson a parent is trying to convey. Spanking can make children fearful of their parents, and we want our kids to behave because they respect us, not because they’re afraid” says Lauren O’Donnell. Spanking can also enforce bad behaviors in kids who are seeking attention. When they purposefully break a rule, a spanking is giving them that attention that they want. In their mind, negative attention is better than getting no attention at all.

There is a big difference between abusing a child out of anger, thus leaving them with bruises, and giving them one spanking on the bottom out of love to teach them a valuable lesson. Just because a parent spanks their child, that does not mean that they are abusing them. If they were abusing their child, the kid would have bruises, scratches, and/or left in fearful pain. A simple spanking doesn’t leave them with any of that. Don’t ridicule parents who choose to spank their child. They still love them and care for them, they only wish to convey a little more discipline to their child if or when they purposefully defy their parents authority. 

O’Donnell, Lauren. Disciplining Your Child. The Nemours Foundation. 1995-2021. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/discipline.html?ref=search

Lee, Katherine. Mistakes Parents Make When Disciplining Children. About, Inc. 2019. https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-is-child-discipline-620113

Pingleton, Jared. Spanking Can Be an Appropriate Form of Child Discipline. TIME USA, LLC. 2014. www.https://time.com/3387226/spanking-can-be-an-appropriate-form-of-child-discipline/

CTV.ca News. Contentious Study Says Spanking May Benefit Children. CTV.ca News Staff. 2010. https://www.ctvnews.ca/contentious-study-says-spanking-may-benefit-children-1.471361

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