Spanking: Yes or No?

Spanking is one of the most controversial methods of punishing a child. Some studies report that children who are spanked develop anti-social and aggressive behavior tendencies. Others point out that the relationship between spanking and bad behavior cannot be proven and spanking is a tried and true method to promote child obedience. So who’s right?


To spank or not to spank is a personal decision that you and your partner will have to make. To make that decision, you will want to consider the temperament of your child and set guidelines for how and when spanking is appropriate.

If you decide to spank your child, it is important that you make it count. In other words, do not spank your child for minor rule infractions or spanking will lose its impact. Spanking should be reserved for those occasions when a child has put him or herself in danger or has blatantly and defiantly broken “the rules.”

Also, if you choose to use spanking as a form of punishment it is important that you never spank your child when you are angry. This can be hard to do; however, it is better for you to send your child to his or her room until you have calmed down than spank your child harder than you intend—perhaps harming them—in the heat of the moment.

Before you spank your child, you should make sure that they know they will be spanked and why they are being spanked. This will help your child understand that this consequence is a result of specific behavior. Do not make your child wonder why they are being spanked. And always reassure your child that you love them after you have spanked them.

Some reasons for not spanking your child are that it can easily escalate to a level where you do not have control of yourself. You can do significant harm to your child if you strike them repeatedly with full-force. Some fathers do not trust their ability to control themselves and, therefore, opt against spanking.

Other fathers believe that spanking harms their relationship with their child. Fathers want to keep the lines of communication open with their child and establish a relationship where their child feels comfortable talking to him about difficult things. Spanking may impede that type of relationship and foster a relationship of fear and compliance versus love and respect.

Still other fathers believe that spanking is reactionary and does not provide their child the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. For example, if a child vandalizes a neighbor’s property, instead of spanking the child, a father might require his son or daughter to work to restore the property to its previous condition and have them volunteer for community service programs that will teach them the value of caring for property. In this way, the punishment provides a lesson for the child and not simply a painful consequence.

Spanking is a difficult issue to come to terms with—especially if you are relying on research studies and experts. Research studies abound on each end of the spectrum and experts disagree as to the use and effectiveness of spanking. Therefore, spanking is something you will have to discuss with your partner and determine if it is something you want to use as you raise your child to be an independent adult.