Spanking Child or
Using a Discipline Paddle

The best parenting advice related to spanking a child and how to discipline children. When it comes to being a parent, one of the most important decisions you will make is how to raise them to be well behaved. There’s nothing more embarrassing than to have your child get in trouble at school or misbehave in public.

While some behavior problems are expected in young children, toddlers or kids with developmental disabilities, severe behavioral challenges require a plan of how to respond. Many parents will decide that spanking a child or using a discipline paddle is the best option because it is easy.

However, more and more research shows that not only does this actually cause aggressive behavior in children, but physical punishment of children may also potentially lead to mental health concerns including anxiety and mood disorders, such as depression. Regardless of research, there are also many other good reasons why spanking a child is a bad idea, including:

Reasons why spanking a child is a bad idea...

1. Inconsistency in discipline between home, school and daycare. Teachers and daycare providers generally will not be able to punish children with a spanking. There may be a few places that still allow corporal punishment, but for the most part, I would say it is a thing of the past. In order for consequences to be effective it is best if they are consistent across all settings and environments.

2. Inconsistency in discipline at home and in public. While you may feel comfortable spanking a child in the privacy of your own home, you might want to think twice about doing it in public. If too harsh it could be viewed by the public as child abuse, resulting in a call to child services and your children being removed from your care.

So, while you may appear to have “control” of your children at home, their behavior may be worse in public because you can’t discipline the same way. Also, delayed consequences (e.g. “You’ll be sorry when we get home!”) are often ineffective for children that need immediate consequences.

3. Spanking a child is ‘reinforcing’ to the parent. Sometimes spanking is actually a way for parents to relieve their own frustration with the child’s behavior. It can feel good to be aggressive when angry or resentful of their behavior. These are called aggression reinforcers. The downside to this – you may unintentionally overdo it to the point of borderline child abuse. Once again at risk of child services taking your children away.

I took a child abuse class in college that showed me a video of a mother in jail for murdering her child. Sounds extreme, but the story was that she was frustrated with her kids always leaving messes after she had cleaned the house. She decided to use a curtain rod to spank her kids after they left potato chip crumbs all over the floor. When leaving the bedroom following the discipline, she tossed the rod back into the room a little harder than she intended. It ended up stabbing one of her kids resulting in their death.

4. It undermines the relationship between parent and child. Children look to their parents for love, support and understanding. If they associate pain or fear with you as their parent, chances are the relationship suffers as a result. It’s really not much different than the effect of spousal abuse . It’s possible that a girl that gets spanked as a child may be more likely to accept this type of treatment from her husband one day thinking that’s what love is. Do you really want this for your little girl? It may also lead to a boy hitting his girlfriend or wife one day for the same reason.

5. Spanking fails to teach a child what they SHOULD do. It’s easy to give your kid a swat on the butt when they are doing something you don’t like and that’s it. Depending on how quickly you are to give it, they may not even know what they did to deserve it. More importantly, you’re not teaching what they should do instead of the bad behavior. Replacement behaviors are a key component for any behavior intervention plan to work.

6. Would you spank your 6 month old baby? For children with autism or down syndrome, spanking is simply not appropriate. Having the cognitive ability to understand what the punishment represents is important for it to be effective. I don't know of one parent that would use spanking for a baby, although there may be some, because a baby wouldn't understand. This is the same for children with any type of developmental delay.

So, there you have it. Six reasons not to spank that don’t even include the possible harm it could cause to your child’s mental health. Using time out for kids instead of spanking a child or other positive behavior supports, such as those found in my free eBook can be much more effective and BUILD the relationship between you and your kids.