To Spank or Not to Spank: That is the Question

psychology - spanking

This past weekend, I received a compliment I have been waiting to hear for years.  No it wasn’t on my shoes, or clothes or “getting my body back” after baby, whatever that means (trust me, after you have a baby, there is no “body back” no matter how much weight you have lost).  I digress.

As I was leaving a dinner party, filled with adults and kids, a lady walked up to me as I was getting my two children and said, “You have the most well behaved kids!  They are so polite and have great manners, you’re doing such a good job with them.”  Like Lupita Nyong’o at the Academy Awards, I almost broke down and cried my way through an acceptance speech.  “I’d like to thank…” But instead with a sheepish grin I mumbled together something like “Oh thanks!”

I would love to say that I did this all without, as Gwyneth would say, “forcefully disciplining” my children.  I would love to be a part of the chorus that believes that spanking children is not the way to go and the only thing you are doing with spanking is creating more aggressive, fearful children.  But since i’ve used it on my own children, I won’t.

Look, I don’t believe that spanking should be the main form of punishment for a child.  It shouldn’t even be a go-to.  What I will say is that I believe there is a right and a wrong way to discipline your children no matter if you spank them or not.

When I was growing up, both of my parents spanked me.  There was a difference however, in the way that my mother and father carried out that punishment.  Now, before I start ratting out both of my parents, I have love and respect for both of them.  As an educated adult, I understand their belief that spanking would curb certain behaviors.  With that said, My father was a military man.  As the main enforcer of punishment, he was often reactionary, with the thought that any misbehavior would self-correct after a good swat.

My mother on the other hand, took a different approach.  She would rarely spank, but when she did, she would often stop the wrongdoing immediately and delay the punishment.  I always wondered why (I know now the delay was so she could have time to calm down).  Spankings with her usually occurred at night after a long explanation for the reason, so that I fully understood it’s purpose.

So it got me to thinking.  It’s not necessarily spankings, or timeouts, or whatever mode of discipline is new right now.  What children really need is to be talked to, starting at an early age, even if they don’t understand everything right away.   Understanding why you are being punished goes a lot father than passing out the punishment.

I have since tried to model my own life with my children, like my mother did with me and my siblings.  I’m not going to give future predictions, but judging by the world audience, so far it has worked.


This piece was originally featured on WTOP’s Parenting page.
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3 thoughts on “To Spank or Not to Spank: That is the Question

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