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Effects of Spanking Your Child

Updated on October 3, 2011

Most parents spank their children all the time without thinking twice about it. The common perception is that spanking is harmless and is necessary for disciplining children. Rarely, do parents stop and think about how effective spanking really is and whether they've seen any positive effects from spanking their kids. On the other hand, the consequences of spanking are rarely reflected upon by parents. Of course, most don't know that there can be negative consequences from spanking. So, is it right to spank your kid? If not, what are the alternatives?

Personally, I strongly believe spanking makes no difference at all in disciplining your child - it certainly doesn't improve discipline. This is also borne out by experts, who say that spanking as a form of discipline is ineffective and becomes progressively more ineffective as time goes on, and is at best a short-term measure. However, spanking could have negative side effects on the parent-child relationship. Increased aggressive behavior in the child being spanked is one of the effects of spanking. Also, the child is likely to respect the parent less as a consequence of spanking and also more likely to hold grudges against the parent.

Spanking could therefore end up altering the relationship between parent and child in a negative way - something that no parent would want. Also, what spanking teaches the child is that violence is okay as an expression of anger and is a good way of dealing with conflict. Certainly, not the moral you want to be teaching your children. It can also make your child feel less secure, even though you may not have wanted them to ever feel that way.

Alternatives To Spanking Your Child


If not spanking, then what? What can you do to discipline your child? There are a few ways. One of them is by utilizing the time-out strategy, particularly effective in small children. This is how it works. Explain to your child the basic rules of the house. If they do break them, warn them once. If the behavior continues, send them to an isolated/quiet place in the house and make them sit there, while being close by yourself. They should be required to sit there for a specific amount of time determined by you. Time the duration through a timer. You can set the timer 3 to 5 minutes. Once the time is up, you can allow your child to leave, provided they don't misbehave again - in which case, you'd reset the timer and repeat the procedure.

Of course, this strategy won't work for older children. In their specific case, taking away of privileges is a much better option. Lay down the rules so they know, and what privileges would be taken away in case they break those rules. The privileges could be anything from allowing them to go to parties, going out with friends, taking part in sports, etc.

Alternatively, you can look to improve upon your child's behavior by positive reinforcement. You could do so by rewarding good behavior through gifts/praise, etc. Doing all of the above can be much more effective than just giving into your impulses and spanking your kid. It also leads to more respect for the parent from the point of view of the child.


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    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 6 years ago from Illinois

      I think it's best if used extremely rarely. I mean, if you spank every day that will have a bad consequence. But if you do it and it's not a normal part of your routine, they'll know that it means they did something really bad.

    • profile image

      jack 6 years ago


      There are alternative ways. The only problem is that some people are simply too lazy, to make the effort. The worst of all those people however are the religious ones. They whip their kids in the name of jesus. Jesus however made the effort to carry his cross. He did not crucify anyone else instead.

    • Shil1978 profile image

      Shil1978 7 years ago

      Thank you, Gareth, for stopping by and commenting. The thing I would wonder about is who decides if a parent is 'qualified' to spank their child or not? Also, spank with what? Just hands or....

      Unfortunately, it is highly subjective and there are parents who use extreme measures such as using canes or other implements. Some may start off with hands and then decide to progress to a belt or a cane and who knows what else?

      I agree that kids need to be shown boundaries. Just saying there are alternate ways!

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      Gareth 7 years ago

      The spankings that I received as a child were few and far between, and from them I gained far more respect for my parents than any number of time-outs I was put in. Though these spankings were also accompanied by correction and love; I'm sure that if I received them without being spoken to about what I did wrong, I would still be displeased with my parents, but such is not the case. Actually, I don't think it matters so much about whether you use a spanking or a time-out as much as communicating with kids does. Kids don't want to understand rules, and unless they're spoken to about them, you're basically choosing between making your child feel hurt and angry, or frustrated and neglected.

      Not all children can be raised the same way, and while some kids won't respond to a spanking, it can be what guides back a defiant child. I wil say that some parents aren't qualified to spank their children properly, but for those with the right head on their shoulders, they shouldn't be denied the right to do so.

    • Shil1978 profile image

      Shil1978 7 years ago

      Thanks again Kalto for dropping by this hub and for sharing your insights on this topic. Appreciate your perspective greatly. Thanks again for the appreciation:)

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      I grew up on spankings. Of course I always learned right away after being spanked. When I was spanked for something I NEVER DID WHATEVER I DID again! Of course, every child is different. One of my godsisters, spanking doesn't work for her AT ALL. She just does it again. For my younger godsister, simply ignoring her at times is punishment enough.

      I agree that spanking is, at time, unnecessary. The truth is, some children become immune to spanking and then the only thing they learn is violence. Good Hub.

    • Shil1978 profile image

      Shil1978 8 years ago

      I am not sure I agree Alan. Anger if channeled into physical actions can lead to much worse than spanking. Perhaps, you've been able to channel your anger and limited yourself to just spanking. But, that's not the case with all. Also, I still believe that spanking isn't the best way to discipline your child. You can use nonviolent methods to put across the message just as well. You can get the attention of your child by denying certain incentives that they normally get as well. Of course, you have to put up with all the whining, etc, but if you are strong and want to instill a sense of discipline in your children, you have to learn to ignore that and let them know that they wouldn't get stuff they want, if they behave badly. Thanks for sharing your perspective Alan, am sure you have been a good dad!! I am not judging those who spank. Just saying there is an alternative and expressing my personal opinion on the subject!!!

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      Alan 8 years ago

      I'm the father of a 20 year-old young woman. She has turned out great, and I know that this is at least in part because of the way my wife and I parented her.

      When she was 8 years old, some very unruly, disrespectful, disobedient, obstinate tendencies, which had been percolating for about 3 years started getting out of hand. It was so bad, we were seriously frightened about the path she was heading toward in life.

      Two strategies solved the problem. 1. I had never, ever before spanked her, or used any kind of physical discipline with her. On one particular night, when she was being very difficult, I decided to get her attention with a swift, unexpected, startling, momentarily stunning few whacks to her little fanny. It stung a little, but shocked her far more.

      With that, she felt my anger, and also a small taste of my strength. With that she realized that I was willing and able to take her on physically if I needed to, and that was the point I was trying to make.

      Prior to that time, my wife and I totally stripped her room bare -- took everything she had out of there, except her bed and a book. That didn't really make much of a difference in her behavior or her attitude.

      That's when I used a little physical force.

      That night, I composed a letter to her, from dad to daughter, heart to heart. She knew I loved her with all my heart and soul -- that much was well established. Remember, she was just 8 years old, and was testing the boundaries of my authority and her power.

      In essence, in my letter I told her that if she continued the way she was going, her life was going to be very difficult and unhappy. I told her she had the power to change if she wanted to. Lastly, I said, "be good and good things will happen for you... be bad and she will reap what she sows.

      The spanking got her attention in a big way, but the letter got to her heart, which is where the change had to come from.

      If you've already done a lot of spanking and it hasn't worked, you have to try other things, but if you've got a problem child, whom you have never, or rarely spanked. A swift, stinging, powerful display of adult anger, directed at her in a way they've never seen or heard, will work wonders. But then you have to follow it up with love, so the child can see and feel the difference.

      She got the message and changed overnight. Some children may need more "treatments." If you make their life unhappy enough, but reward them well when they understand and change, they will get the message.

      We parents are charged with raising these bright little lights, who are constantly wanting to push their boundaries outward. They rebel against authority, as we all do. Your child must fear you to respect you, and when they respect you, they can love you. If they know that your justice is fair, the respect will be total. If it's unfair or disproportionate to the "crime," you will breed resentment and more rebellion.

      Thus, strategic spanking is a good thing, if it's used wisely and judiciously. If your anger and physical power is abused, you will create someone like, or worse than yourself.

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      Tracy Santiago 8 years ago

      We used Don't Swear with Your Mouth Full... World of difference and not the same old stuff. He actually presents a true alternative and explains in detail why it's better than time-based punishments. Worked for our little ADHD guy.