Should I spank my child?

Spanking is a widely debated topic. For generations, Spanking was “the right thing.” Some people feel hesitant to abandon a discipline they experienced when they were children. But the thinking on Spanking has changed over the years, and now most experts advise against Spanking or using corporal punishment. However, some parents still believe that Spanking is an effective disciplinary strategy. 

I was spanked, and I’m okay; why shouldn’t I spank my kids?

A few decades ago, some child-rearing experts saw Spanking as an acceptable way to discipline children. But they have learned better. Our parents have loved us, but they might not have spanked us if they knew what we know now.

We now know far more about the adverse effects of Spanking than we used to. Research shows that children who are physically punished by their parents are more likely to engage in violent, aggressive behavior — both as children and as adults.

What’s the harm in a bit of smack?

Spanking may seem like a direct and effective way to show your child that his behavior is unacceptable and must change. Still, it delivers other messages you don’t want to send, like the following:

  • Fear. Spanking teaches your child to fear you, not listen to you or respect you. He may also feel humiliated and resentful, and he can retaliate by being uncooperative.
  • Distrust. Spanking teaches your child that you’ll punish him instead of giving him sympathetic guidance when he makes mistakes. It erodes trust and disrupts the bond you have with your child.
  • Poor self-esteem. Studies show that spanking your child can hurt more than just his body; it also injures his sense of self.
  • Danger, Spanking can be physically dangerous, especially if you hit harder than intended.
  • Violence is okay. If you spank your child, he may learn that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.

Better Alternatives to Spanking

Fortunately, parents don’t need to spank to promote good behavior in kids. Remember, discipline is teaching while Spanking is a punishment. Here are some recommendations on how we can discipline our kids:

Be a role model. Remain calm and understand that your child looks to you to be an example of how to behave.

Set rules and limits that can be enforced consistently among all caretakers. There should be no good guy/bad guy for a child with multiple caretakers. Make sure that rules are verbalized using age-appropriate language.

Praise and celebrate good behaviors. Give attention to behaviors that you want your child to repeat. 

Know when not to respond. For example, if a child throws a tantrum because he isn’t allowed to play on the iPad, ignore this behavior to make it decrease with time. The child will learn that throwing a tantrum will not get him the iPad. 

Learn from past experience. What triggers your child’s misbehavior? If you can identify a trigger, are there ways to avoid it or better prepare for it?

Redirect bad behavior. Turn “don’t do that” into an action that your child can do. If she takes a toy from a playmate, offer her another toy or activity until it’s her turn.

Call a timeout when a rule is broken. Remove the child from that situation for a pre-set amount of time. Explain why you are doing it. Once the child gets older, let him lead the time out by saying, “Go to time out and come back when you are calm and ready.” This can teach the child to understand his emotions, actions, and consequences.

Physical punishment only works momentarily to stop problematic behavior because children are afraid of being hit. Still, it doesn’t work long-term and can make children more aggressive. The adverse effects of physical punishment may not become apparent for some time. The negative effects of physical punishment may not become evident for some time.

The goal of discipline is to teach your child skills that will make him a responsible and good person. When determining which discipline strategies to use, think about what you hope your child will gain from your intervention.