To Spank or Not to Spank… That is the Question… {Guest Post}

Or so it SHOULD be.

Many parents have simply discounted it as an appropriate disciplinary technique while others spank on a regular basis without any discernment prior to doing so.

to spank or not to spank

I am a spanker. I admit it. I have spanked any of my 4 kids when needed as needed.

What does the research say about spanking? Developmental psychologists and pediatricians agree that kids shouldn’t be subject to corporeal punishment. But as a scientist, I have a problem with a lot of the conclusions drawn from research on this topic. I am trained as a Developmental Psychologist, but I am living a life as a Mom. I can read the research and pontificate about the theoretical, but I live in the real world.

So here is my rule-book for spanking.

I never spank the kids when I am "out of control angry." I typically warn them first that if they do not follow my directions they will get a spanking. My two year old is ‘like a blender without a top’ as the saying goes. But if she gets a swat she will stop the naughtiness and crawl into my lap with her version of 'so sorry.' That is the thing about spanking (and raised voices too!) - if you spank, you also need to give the child more love and positive attention afterwards. Things have to be made right after any two people argue.

Spanking shouldn’t be used too early or too late in childhood . If kids don’t know what they are doing, then they should be re-directed and instructed rather than punished. As they get older it is just not smart to make things physical and there are so many more effective ways of disciplining school-age kids.

Additionally, spanking is not an effective tool for all kids. My oldest child’s worst punishment was holding him tightly in my lap. My second went to pieces anytime he was sent to his room, but would laugh at anything else. I have only given my 5-year old a handful of spankings her entire childhood. She is a fairly compliant child and until recently would go to tears when I raised my voice.

The main thing about spanking is that it should only be used when it is effective and other things are not. And that changes. I may give a few spankings a month to one child and then never have to spank that child again. It should never be the first or only discipline technique – rather it should always be a last resort. I love using "carrots" rather than "the stick."* But when they turn their nose up at my carrot, I am not going to let my child run wild without a little stick.

*disclaimer – In no way do I advocate using actual sticks on children.

This is a guest post from MaryRuth Hacket of Parenting with Peer Review.