If Spanking Works Why Are You Still Doing It?


mother threatening to hit childThere's a funny thing about parents who spank their kids. They swear it works. Why else would they actually inflict physical pain on their child, right?

But they spank. And they spank. And they spank some more. Some all the way up into the teen years. And yet, they keep on claiming it's working. OK, non-spanking mom over here with a befuddled look on her face has a question. If it works, why do you have to keep doing it? Shouldn't the magic have happened? The bad behavior stopped? The "working" started? OK, that was a few questions.

See, I am a "the first time is a warning" mom, very often followed by a time-out kind of mom. And unlike the spanking moms I know who are very adamant that their way works, I will be up front and honest. Discipline is trial and error. Like teaching kids their ABCs, addition, how to ride a bike, teaching right from wrong takes time.

And so it would actually stand to reason that one smack on the butt doesn't suddenly turn your little monster into a model citizen, no matter how much you try to convince yourself that "your way" is going to save your little hellion from: running into the road, touching a hot stove, trying to eat Grandma's medicine. So you keep doing it. And doing it. And doing it.

Suddenly, you are a spanker. Not getting anywhere with it, obviously, because it's not working. AND you're inflicting physical pain on your child, scars that will last a lifetime. Don't believe me? Think back to your own childhood. Were you spanked? If the answer was yes, do you remember the spankings? I'm willing to bet you can remember exact details.

I can. Because physical pain has been linked to memory by scientists in a very significant way. It can literally change who you are as a person. Experienced young, it can make you develop violent tendencies that wouldn't otherwise have been within your personality -- again, because you were changed. It can, and does, make children fear their parents, make them question the one thing kids should never have to question: "Do the people who are supposed to love me without fail really love me if they hit me?"

And all this for something that doesn't even work? At least with my trial and error method of time-out, no one is getting hurt while we figure out what works. That's why I'm willing to stick with an imperfect method -- there's room to be imperfect. Not so with spanking.

Ask me why I'm a time-out Mom, and the irony is that I'm afraid if I wasn't, I would be a spanking mom. It's because I don't believe in hurting other human beings -- not just my own child but my spouse, my friends, my family, anyone really -- that I would prefer to have a little distance between my daughter and me when she has done something wrong and I can feel my temper rise. Ironic, isn't it? I was spanked as a child, and I get very angry now. Angry enough to want to be violent. I can't say for sure that they're linked, but I can say for sure that I don't want my daughter to experience either side -- the pain on her butt or the pain in her heart at the thought of hurting her own child. See, time-out may not be perfect, but the kid and I both get something OUT of it.

I get a daughter who is gradually learning social niceties and safety concerns. She gets to learn them without the indignity of being treated as my punching bag. She also gets to experience a mom who loves her unconditionally and shows it.

Unlike spanking, we have real results in the end. What do spankers have? More spanking.

Do you spank? Please explain to me how it works if you have to keep doing it?


Image via © iStock.com/VMJones



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evwsq... evwsquared

Very thoughtful---thank you!

nonmember avatar Sharlene

I can't answer your last question however you said this: "Think back to your own childhood. Were you spanked? If the answer was yes, do you remember the spankings? I'm willing to bet you can remember exact details."

Yeah, I don't remember the details of being spanked but I sure do remember that I deserved it. My parents stopped spanking me or rather resorting to it if I required a spanking in about my preteen years. I remember the day I did something wrong and my dad sternly said, "You're too old for those kind of consequences but you need to understand that now when you do something wrong you're going to have to deal with the real life consequences that come with. You are no longer in the realm where I can spank you, tap you, or do anything of the such but I will hope that I've taught you to be better." And this was after I think I took a cookie that I shouldn't have. So to answer that question, it might not be that bad. It can be if the parent gets carried away and I'm still on the fence about how I feel about it but I do believe that you need to talk to the child and they need to understand when they've done something wrong.

ArmyGal ArmyGal

Why punish at all? Subtract that spankings and add time out. If time out works so well, why are you still doing it? If talking to your child works so well, why are you still having to talk to them about their behavior? 


Oh and I don't spank. At least not anymore. She doesn't need it anymore :)

-Eilish- -Eilish-

^^^ ArmyGal beat me to it ....

HeatU... HeatUSA-Tunisia

LOL as much as I prefer not to spank and only use it as a last resort (and NEVER when I am angry.. who gets angry at a child anyway?) this argument is silly... unless of course kids who are disciplined with time outs only require one to be model citizens.

nonmember avatar ele4phant

Do your children still misbehave on occasion? Do you still need to implement time outs or some other form of non-spanking discipline?

purpl... purpleducky

I spank. But I do not only spank. I also use timeouts, other corporal punishments, making reparations, etc. It does work as well as any other discipline technique I have used. Yes my children still aren't perfect, but I also don't expect them to be perfect. They slip up from time to time. When they do, at this point in time, I just remind them that it is bad and we move on. Unless it is something that they are do deliberately and know is wrong (such as doing something after I told them not to) then they don't get punished anymore. So my children are 4 and 2 and rarely have to get spanked or disciplined in any way anymore. So yes it works.

The problem is people do not know how to discipline properly. They are not consistent with it and the rules. Physical punishment, when used properly, has not been linked to anything harmful. The issue is those who do not use it properly. And it is a very fine line.

I also do not equate spanking to hitting or anything else. It is just discipline just like timeouts and stuff. Everything inflicts some sort of pain. Yes with spanking it is mental and physical. But I also believe in making children run laps or some other form of corporal punishment at times. And that also inflicts both mental and physical pain (or can at least).

melan... melanniek

I find it presumptuous that you assume all spanking parents STILL spank their children.  Well this one certainly doesn't.  And your smug attitude is annoying. 

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

You do realize that you're trying to have a rational discussion with people who think it's OK and even desirable to physically harm their own children don't you? People like that can not rationally tell you why they do why they do because it is irrational. Maybe they will argue that they were spanked and turned out just fine. Hello, you turned in to someone who thinks that hitting children is acceptable! That is not fine, that's screwed up.

The way I see it, the overwhelming majority of spankers are people who were spanked themselves, continuing the cycle of abuse. Fortunately there are a lot of people out there who were spanked as kids but who would never consider hitting their own child like me and you. We can do things better and in every generation there will be more kids who were spanked who decide to do better with their own kids until spanking slowly dies out. Mind you, I don't see it ever going away, there will always be fringe lunatics like the people who say they do it because the bible told them to (usually the same ones who are happy to judge others who use their holy book to justify violence and hatred, pot meet kettle), but it will be so socially unacceptable that they will have a very hard time defending their actions.

ArmyGal ArmyGal

You make way too many assumptions Rhonda. Have fun with that lol.

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