Do You Spank Your Children?

I read an article that made my jaw drop. It said, “If spanking is working for you, go ahead and keep using it.” I couldn’t believe it, especially after that mother was caught on video spanking her child.

As a parent educator, I’ve never met a parent who spanks who didn’t claim it was working for them.

The Academy of Pediatrics, parenting professionals and therapists have all come out against spanking. We all know spanking sends the wrong message. But what message does spanking send and what are the ramifications for the long term?

Spanking causes a child to shift their focus from what they did wrong—to being mad at you for spanking them. No change takes place. Yes, misbehavior stops temporarily —and now your child fears or resents you. Is that the kind of relationship you want? They’ll remember what happened during childhood, don’t you?

Using spanking for things like throwing a toy creates a problem. As the offenses get bigger, and they will, you’ll need to up the ante, because the more you spank the less it works. Where do you go from there?

How do children read spanking messages? Children mimic behavior they experience. If we spank when they take a toy, then they’ll hit when one’s taken from them. We then add, “Use your words”, which confuses them. Young children don’t have the impulse control to understand using words first is how to get what they want. Also, spanking sets a precedent, we used our body to correct the situation, why shouldn’t they?

The job of childhood is to make mistakes and learn from them. Did you get mad when your child began stacking blocks? Of course not. You understood stacking blocks was an important learning moment. Parents need to understand all mistakes and misbehavior are learning moments. When you see mistakes and misbehavior from this perspective, your anger is naturally reduced and there’s no need to spank, they’re learning.

Use empathetic words and enforce firm boundaries instead of spanking. Statements like, “I’d be mad too if someone took my toy, and you may not hit.” When a child experiences being heard they don’t use misbehavior to express feelings.

Another example is a toddler who hits. Use actions and few words. Say, “Uh Oh, you hit-you sit”. Gently take him to a spot, maybe right there on the floor, have him sit for 30 seconds. Give a kiss and tell him to try again. Using this action tells him what happens every time he hits. That’s half the solution. The MOST important part, catch him being good, using his words or being nice. Catching children being good is what changes misbehavior.

This method changes where children get their emotional payoff. They’ll now experience lots of praise for good behavior and receive actions with few words for misbehavior. If children receive daily doses of negativity and little praise, they perceive negativity as the payoff. They then create misbehavior as a way to attain their payoff. Shifting the emotional scale from negative responses to positive ones changes behavior. This really works.

As toddlers grow they begin to use more words, this method helps parents get through this stage. As children grow parents need to change discipline methods. Parenting classes are great places to learn new methods. The real challenge is keeping up with the changing child!

Sharon Silver is a mom, a Love and Logic instructor and the director of The Center for Conscious Parenting, in Portland OR. She teaches workshops and facilitates The Mom’s Group. She is passionate about sharing the truth regarding families and staying at home with children. She can be reached at

Source: Sharon Silver