Spanking is one of the most controversial topics in parenting. I, for one, am all for it. The Bible is very clear about the role of discipline in training up our children. But … and there is a “but.” I have to be very careful. Because I have a propensity for anger, it is very important for me NOT to spank in a rage. Spanking is not an outlet for frustrations with a child. This has caused some problems in my discipline with my 3-year-old because I ceased spanking for a while as I was feeling guilty and fearful of my lack of self-control. Unfortunately, that means I wasn’t consistent in my discipline, so she became more disobedient. Because she was not listening, I became more easily frustrated and irritated. I know some can relate.
So, one of the keys I have found for me is: No more 1, 2, 3! Spanking is my first response to disobedience. When I give my daughter any instruction, I don’t give her much time to comply. If I am certain she heard me (and I do have to make sure I have eye contact or something beforehand so there’s no excuses) and keep the instruction simple, something I know she can do, she gets a spanking if she makes no effort to act on it. In our house, it’s okay if she expresses discontent without attitude–I’m still working on that one though–so asking a question or talking with me about the request is considered “action.”
When I was repeating myself again and again or giving empty threats or counting to 3, she would use the entire “allowed” time to disobey to its fullest potential. Which, of course, made my blood boil. Every time I have to ask her to do something, I become more upset, which means I am more likely to be angry when I spank her. So, I make a request, spank firmly but not with malice, then repeat my request calmly, until she complies. I explain her behavior and why it’s unacceptable, then offer suggestions as to how she should conduct herself. With gentle communication and correction, I believe spankings help a child transform her own behavior, rather than serve as a means of frightening her into submission. Ok, so I am not perfect in this regard, but we’re getting there.
Believe it or not, there has been more than one occasion where my daughter has shown appreciation for this type of discipline. Many months ago, she was disobedient at bed time. She was whining and throwing a tantrum about getting ready for bed. Using this model, my husband and I gave her several spankings and also took away her story time for that night. When she finally was in her pjs, calm and in bed, she verified one last time, but calmly, that she wasn’t going to get a story. When I said, “That’s right,” she responded with a sniffle, “We read a book another time?” I nodded my head, and she said, for maybe the second time in her life, “I love you, mommy.” I gave her hug and reassured my love, and we didn’t have problems at night for quite some time after that.
I do use time outs as well, but only if I am prepared for her to escalate the screaming, because that is what happens. It usually takes a 10-minute time-out, or more, for her to calm down, because she does not like to be removed from the situation. The spanking is most effective, however, if it’s not the only form of discipline because kids will become immune to it. I try to be a little unpredictable. But I have found that if I am consistent in spankings, my daughter learns to obey my authority, and she needs fewer of them. Some guidelines to follow if you choose to spank:
- Be consistent!
- Spank as a first resort
- Remove the child to a private setting
- Spank the butt or upper legs only
- Discuss calmly the reason for the spanking—before or after
- Reassure your love with a hug
- Accompany spankings with other consequences for a greater positive effect
Resources from experts who offer more information on using spankings as a positive part of discipline:
- To Train Up a Child by Michael & Debi Pearl
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
- New Parent Power! by John Rosemond