To Spank or Not to Spank? That is the Question.

Should I Spank?

Your partner wants to spank, but you don’t. Or maybe you want to spank, but your partner doesn’t. You both argue your points, but no one is budging. This is a battle I often hear about in my practice. So, what is the answer to this ongoing question?

You and your partner disagree on spanking? Is spanking effective? A Child Therapist chimes in on the argument to spank or not to spank.

It depends on how you want to look at it. I always tell parents that they are in charge of their own parenting style.

It is important that parents find a good fit for both them and their children. I never like to be preachy or place my own values and parenting style on other people.

Having said that, you want to pick a parenting approach that works, right?

Well, unfortunately, spanking just isn’t an effective way to discipline. I am sorry, but it just isn’t.

It works in the short-term, but not in the long term.

Yes, your son might snap into shape when you walk through the door. Yes, your kids might change their behavior quickly when you threaten to spank them. But you are on borrowed time my friend.

When your little munchkin grows into a bigger munchkin – and worse a hormonal and moody munchkin, your spanks aren’t going to deter them anymore. In fact, they just might try to “spank” back, and that’s not a pretty family picture.

What does it teach?

The first few years of life we are laying the foundation for everything that will follow. We are teaching our kids how to self-regulate and how to make good choices.

When our kids hit their siblings and we punish them by spanking them, are they learning not to hit?

Yes, our spanking may stop them from hitting again (for a little while), but did they learn how to handle their anger better or did they just learn to be fearful of a spank?

When that same kid goes to kindergarten and hits another kid – is the teacher going to spank him? No (well, hopefully not!).

Yes, you can threaten to give them a spanking when they come home, but young kids aren’t able to connect cause and effect that extends beyond an hour or two.

Your threat won’t have any power during the school day.

I have seen this first hand with many of the young children that come to my office for aggressive behavior in Kindergarten and First grade.

Alternatively, you can model your own self-regulation and control. You can calmly discipline the behavior non-physically and then talk to your child about how they could have handled the situation better.

I am not talking about throwing discipline out the window, I am talking about throwing ineffective parenting out the window.

It can hurt your relationship with your child.

I have worked with way too many kids who are fearful of a parent and never open up to them. Kids will tell me, “I never talk to my dad because he scares me.”

The best prevention isn’t fear, it is communication.

Monkey see, Monkey do.

Young kids don’t know the difference between hitting and spanking. They don’t know the difference between aggression and discipline. You can explain it all you want, but they aren’t going to get it.

What they DO SEE is a bigger person overpowering them and causing them pain. Kids are sponges. If you curse. They’ll curse. If you hit. They’ll hit. It’s what they do.

If you want to lessen the chances of getting called by the daycare director or the principal, don’t model behavior that will get them in trouble.


What are your thoughts on spanking? It is okay if we all disagree, everyone is entitled to their opinion and their parenting style – as long as it is discussed respectfully.

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