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Spanking :: Child Discipline or Child Abuse?


Were you ever spanked as a child?

During my childhood, I recall the threat of being spanked more than I remember actually receiving a swat. My mom had an 18-inch wooden ruler that she would take out when I was misbehaving and she would say that if my behavior didn’t stop that I would get a whack with the ruler.

In a moment of pure brilliance, I thought that I would hide the ruler on my mom so she wouldn’t be able to use it. The next time she went to retrieve it and saw it missing, I was told that I would get extra smacks if I didn’t turn over the ruler right then and there.

While I remember being spanked a few times, as well as a firm pinch here and there, I think the idea of the punishment was enough to deter me from continuing whatever behavior brought about the idea of a spanking.

From what my wife has told me, her childhood was different in that she vividly remembers being spanked with a wooden spoon - slotted for less air resistance - and receiving spankings with a belt. In her house there were not any warnings about changing her behavior or else, she received the spanking at the first sign of misbehaving.

Often times when people think of spanking a child, they recall stories on the news where a parent is caught on video beating a small child. A few years ago there was a security camera that captured a woman smacking her child multiple times in the parking lot of a large store. In my opinion, that has crossed the line of spanking and can easily be considered child abuse and I am sure all of us would agree that that type of action is unacceptable.

What do you think about spanking your children?

John from Daddee Yah! recently wrote a post about child discipline and tagged me to share my thoughts.

Now that I am a parent myself, I have faced the question of whether spanking a child is an effective means of discipline or if it is more a form of abuse that does not have a place in raising a child.

Before diving into how we have approached spanking in our house, I have to say that I view a spanking as a single swat across the rear-end or back of the leg and I do not consider it to be abuse. When a parent swats a child repeatedly, I believe that is when the line has been crossed from a spanking into abuse.

With that said, I will tell you that my children have been spanked by my wife and me. However, we have come to the realization that spanking is not an effective means of discipline in our house and is not something that we plan to do again. While I don’t think that spanking a child is wrong and should never be done, I do believe there are other means of disciplining our children that are more effective.

As an example, I recently mentioned one father that sold the copy of Guitar Hero III that he bought his son for Christmas after catching his son using drugs. Could he have spanked his son? Probably. Would it have been as effective as not giving his son a coveted video game? Probably not.

In our house, we have used various forms of discipline but I don’t believe we have found the one solution that works all of the time. Our kids have had their fair share of timeouts, weekends without any video games, days without being able to play with a friend, or conversations with mom and dad about why their behavior was unacceptable.

Just the other day I had mentioned to my wife that I want to use more of a positive reinforcement approach with our kids. Rather than trying to take things away from them when they misbehave or sending them to their room, I believe that more encouragement and reinforcement of their good behavior may reduce their bad behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that my kids will have a free ride and never be punished for misbehaving.

As a parent, sometimes I feel that I have lost touch with what it means to be a child and that some of their behavior is just a part of growing up and learning what they can and cannot do. There are certainly boundaries that should not be crossed and when they are the child needs to be disciplined. Each child is different and may require a different form of discipline, which I believe can include spanking, in order for it to be effective.

Spanking, in my opinion, is not so much a question about right or wrong but more about effective or ineffective.

Do you agree or disagree?

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    On December 20th, 2007 at 11:14 pm, HiTechDad said:

    I think I got spanked maybe once growing up. The threat of a spanking was far greater deterrent. For me it was more about getting sent to my room, no tv etc. Since I was an angel I didn’t really get much discipline ;-)

    On December 20th, 2007 at 11:59 pm, Damien said:

    Thought-provoking post.

    I have 2 memories of getting “the belt.” One was after I was caught lighting matches down at the wilderness by our home.

    I think it has its place. Sometimes children need to feel the pain, which is actually slight, compared to the consequences of their own dangerous actions as in my case the matches were. The other time I got the belt was for jumping off the 2 story roof with my brother when my parents were away. A heighbor saw us. I’d say we were around 13 or 14 at the time. (we’re 14 months apart).

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