To Spank Or Not To Spank? Mom Talk

A new study links spanking to mental illness later in life.

Don't underestimate the power of children's desire to please their parents, I read somewhere in a parenting book. For the past two years, that has been my key parenting tool. Now, a study claims to show that spanking children leads to mental illness. That is no surprise to me.

I've never been a big fan of spanking. A friend once casually announced that she takes a switch to her daughters if they don't do well in school. The girls shape up right quick, she said. I got the chills.

I've never been opposed to a good old fashioned swat on the butt from time to time. It just doesn't seem to be very effective. I also tried slapping Liam's hands. That's a waste, too.

Sometimes, I count to three. However, Liam's 2 years old, so he counts right along with me.

My husband and I endeavor to be consistent. When kids are tired, those aren't teaching moments. We don't waste discipline when putting them to bed. We just put them to bed.

Mostly, though, I use my tone of voice, repetition and follow through. A stern voice and The Look work wonders. For example, when I hear him cutting it up when he should be sleeping, I stomp my way upstairs. Then I dramatically push the door open until it slams something. Instead of putting my hands on the boy, I just stare him down. Silently.

Even more frightening to my son than getting yelled at by Mommy is not getting yelled at by Mommy. I stand, scowl and point. He bows his head, turns his eyes up and sheepishly crawls under the blankets.

Another example is when I hear him from the room below, I thump the walls and holler "go to bed, Liam!" He thinks I'm omniscient. It scares him straight.

When he needs a moment to regroup—and there are plenty of those times—I plop him down on his butt for a time out. He may throw a fit, but he doesn't get up until he's done.

Whenever I have tried spanking him, he has kept on doing the undesired action. It's as if he thrives on the negative attention, too. Every once in a while, he gets a swat to refocus his attention. It just doesn't seem to work out for this toddler. The swift sit accomplishes the same goal.

Instead, we tell him all day long what the expectation is. A lot of praise goes a long way. "Good job" is a lot more powerful than a belt. Then when Daddy comes home, we discuss all the good jobs the boy did throughout the day. The discussion layers in more praise. The simple acts of catching him doing good things is the best motivation for good behavior.

I've only had a couple years experience. I realize Liam will change, and my tactics will need to as well. I remember a lengthy public spanking as a 7-year-old. It was humiliating as well as painful. Children grow to hate people who deliver that style of punishment.

So as our children grow up, I will look for manual labor like painting the garage or moving bushes around the yard instead of beatings.

I'm not surprised that spanking is linked to mental illness. But spanking my children? That sounds nuts.

Child of GOD July 05, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Nobody is talking about abuse, a spanking is not going to scare them, beating them will, there is a difference
Mel July 05, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Spanking is NOT a terrible thing. Beating and leaving marks is. We had to spank our child when she was little when her life was in danger (running into street etc). She quickly stopped doing that, so not a bad thing. She is in elementary school now and our child is very happy, respectful and follows the rules. We haven't had to spank in a few years. We do however at times raise our voice to correct, but what parent doesn't. Discipline has to start at the beginning otherwise the child will be out of control and become a problem in society later on. A parent's responsibility for raising and loving a child is staying on top of the child's issues and giving them the needed attention. Too many parent's take the easy street and let the kids run their house, but later blaim the teachers and society for their kid's problems. Take responsibility and parent your kids. If spanking works then do it. If taking away valubles that is important to the kid then do it. Whatever works for you, just don't ignore problem issues. Don't ever take the road "Not my child" "My child would never do that".
P-Ville Lifer July 05, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I was raised with parents who spanked and I also spanked my daughters on occasion. I can tell you one thing; I was scared to death to get into trouble as a youngster because I knew what was waiting for me when my father got home. Looking back I don't think of it as abuse and I'm not mentally scarred or mentally ill because of it. I watched my stepson's mom use "time outs" with him while I used good old fashioned spanking on my kids; well, guess who behaved themselves better. All it took was giving my kids "the look" and they knew they better knock off whatever it was they were doing; no words even needed. And neither one of my kids are mentally ill because of it; they're both adults now and one of them is a mother herself. There is a difference between spanking and abuse. As my kids got older I moved from spanking to grounding/taking away privledges.
Sandi Kauffman July 05, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I have never spanked any of my two children and they are very well-behaved. Parenting involves decision making and choices and each child is different too. Kids learn differently, and what works as discipline for one may not be effective for another. I don't judge anyone who spanks their children; I know a lot of people who do, and that is their choice as long as it is not excessive. I was spanked as a child and I don't feel mentally scarred from it. And although my decision not to spank was made before I found out, my youngest son has autism. When he was young, he did not speak or understand much of what was said to him. He was at the time a complete visual learner. I could not hit or spank him and expect him not to turn around and do the same to someone else. Just had to redirect, and be creative with ways to teach right from wrong.
Edward Andrysiak July 05, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Argue all you want but a spanking delivered at the proper time in the proper way has a lot of lasting value. Another example...when a young colt was born we gave it several months to get it's footing and become at home with us and it's environment. Then came a very important lesson. We tenderly laid the colt down in the stall and simply put all our wieght on its upper neck and head area. With this done...the eyes bulge a bit and some panic sets in when the little critter realizes he is helpless to our restraint and cannot get to it's feet. They struggle for a minute and then simply give up in calm. We let them up and reassure them that all going forward is well. What we have done is impressed this little colt who now weighs only a few hundred ponds with our ability to be in control. He never forgets that! And we are thankful that he don't because when he grows up and hits the scales at seventeen hundred pounds he would toss us around like a tennis ball. He forever remembers that early lesson and is a "good boy" for the rest of his time in our barn and part of our family. Early lessons are important!
Edward Andrysiak July 05, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Wow Meloni...your opening statement and further comments regarding respect are very telling. Me thinks you just gave most of us a mental spanking.
Spencer D. Smith July 05, 2012 at 08:44 PM
What's a life school?
Spencer D. Smith July 05, 2012 at 08:48 PM
You would enjoy it? So you find the act of corporal punishment pleasurable? That's odd. I've known several families who have that "drink at home" stance and they were invariably republican/conservative, so branding it a "liberal" evil is ludicrous. I'm a liberal and I would never, ever condone such actions.
Martin July 05, 2012 at 08:53 PM
An appropriately placed hand-on-rear, is a discipline tool. When used too much, too hard, or with out restraint, its abuse. 1-2-3 counting does not work all kids...timeouts don't work either. Sometimes one has to use a hand. Each child (and parent) is different.
Spencer D. Smith July 05, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Why do so many of you compare children to animals? I find that disturbing, spanking argument notwithstanding. The vast majority of most people's experience with animals is through eating them, followed by using them as househould entertainment and/or manual labor. Curses. Now I'm reminded that I forgot to take those pork chops out of the freezer for dinner...
dolores chastain July 05, 2012 at 11:13 PM
My father was disciplined in such extreme ways I would call it child abuse. Yes he spanked us but i never felt unloved. My father despite his childhood still loved his father and I can honestly say that he knew the difference between discipline and abuse. My dad is and was an amazing parent who has been my greatest support throughout my life spankings and all!
Grammy July 06, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Maybe if more parents spanked or other wise bothered to discipline and teach their kids manners--the world would definitely be a better place. Parents these days are just too lazy to bother. Kids today are way out of control. Schools can do nothing for fear of a law suit. If I got in trouble at school the LAST person I wanted to find out about it was my parent! You can not discipline your child in public for fear someone will report you for abuse. Yes I spanked my children--after a few in the begining all it took was the threat of it. I was never embarassed by their behavior and could take them any where! They are all sucessful, loving, well mannered adults. Nothing is wrong with a well placed swat on the back side.
just me July 06, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Just LOVE it when you see the mom in the store telling little Johnny for the 3rd time if he does not listen....he will be put in time out......Also love watching a parent put the kid in time out only to have the kid turn around and smack or hit the parent!! makes me laugh everytime!
Ray July 06, 2012 at 02:37 PM
:) -- But we're supposed to let kids do that - it's a way of letting them express their creativity! Just give little Johnny another candy bar.
Edward Andrysiak July 06, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Maybe we can all agree that kids as well as parents are different. Some kids need spanking to get a positive response and some don't. Some parents are good "trainers" and some not. So, we have all these combinations and to be sure a good trainer may not have a kid that needs all that much training. Some wonder why their kids behave better at gramdma's house than they do at home...answer, better trainers. So, it would seem that all sides of this issue are correct...if your kid needs his dupa whacked do it and it's ok. If your kid self punishes as some do...don't bother whacking him.
Michelle Szymczak July 07, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Know this: nothing good comes from hitting! It only teaches kids that hitting is OK, and it teaches them that THEY are bad people. You have to teach the child that their "behavior" is bad. Once you teach them that they are a "bad person" you have lost them forever. Once they believe that, you have no chance to change the behavior. Corporal punishment is barbaric and has no place in society. That's akin to pulling a gun on someone that cuts you off in traffic. If our children are given the tools they need to understand that the behaviors they exhibit are wrong, and given appropriate punishments, they will grow up leading normal lives. Hey, I raised 2 very kids, one was very easy, one, very difficult.. and I never hit him! But I received a great compliment from his boss the other day, that he his a very hard worker and a "free thinker" of all things.. lol.. trust me.. he was a difficult child, but I set limits and kept reminding him about his behavior. It's not easy, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO HIT!
justme July 07, 2012 at 07:46 PM
My child is 18. On the honor roll. Doesn't drink or do drugs. Is on his way to college on a sports and academic scholarship. He is well-respected by his coaches, teachers and teammates. He was spanked. Not often. Not out of frustration. Never in front of people. Never with raised voices or anger. Never more than a couple swats. And only when all other methods had failed. He is not mentally ill, he is well-adjusted and prepared for life. He knows about consequences. I follow many of his friends on twitter and facebook - I see who is getting drunk, going to "bangers", and I know who in his circle smoke pot on a regular basis. Most of them were not spanked. You can keep your study - discipline is important. Children who don't know the boundaries in your home, won't respect them when they are away from you. There is a major difference between spanking and hitting. Its too bad most people don't understand that.
Paul L. July 07, 2012 at 10:13 PM
"There is a major difference between spanking and hitting. Its too bad most people don't understand that." As an adult, I understand that, but ask the little kid who doesn't when he/she see's a hand being raised.
justme July 07, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Never used my hand, never in again, never without a discussion on why, never without a discussion on how spanks can be avoided, never in front of others, never on the bare bottom. Always forgiveness afterwards and never more than a few swats. And the point is, he isnt mentally ill, he isnt traumatized. Again, its all in the approach of the parent and seeing the value of discipline. Not anger, not frustration. And its not so much about the spanking but the interaction before, during and after. I spanked him just a few times because other forms of discipline corrected his behavior.
justme July 07, 2012 at 10:27 PM
*never in anger
Peter B July 08, 2012 at 04:47 AM
I got spanked as a kid when told 3 times not to do something. I was also very much loved and cared for by my parents and I turned out just fine. I believe there needs to be consequences for doing good and incentives or rewards for acting bad. I have 2 boys that we raised on that philosophy 1 is a HS Junior - HONOR ROLL and the other is a in his 3rd year at Illinois Institute of Technology getting his degree in Mechanical Engineering. so they turned out very good as well. I have a relative who uses the time out methods and her kid is a spoiled BRAT.
Peter B July 08, 2012 at 05:04 AM
I previously sent a comment with "consequences for doing good and incentives or rewards for acting bad", what I meant to say is "consequences for acting dis-respectful and incentives or rewards for doing good" correct statement below: I got spanked as a kid when told 3 times not to do something. I was also very much loved and cared for by my parents and I turned out just fine. I believe there needs to be consequences for acting dis-respectful and incentives or rewards for doing good. I have 2 boys that we raised on that philosophy 1 is a HS Junior - HONOR ROLL and the other is a in his 3rd year at Illinois Institute of Technology getting his degree in Mechanical Engineering, so they turned out very good as well. I have a relative who uses the time out methods and her kid is a spoiled BRAT. Now what really hit home after they turned 10/12 years old was taking "something away" (cell phone, PC, TV...) or grounding them , but you have to commit to the length of time. if say "phone's gone for a week" you give in and give it back to them after 3 or 4 days. otherwise they will know you really don't mean business and the next time they do something wrong, they know the consequences are real.
Zach Frisch July 08, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Spanking is wrong period
cjhmarine July 08, 2012 at 10:46 AM
He who spares the rod spoils the child. Just look at todays youth and youll see why spanking is needed. We live in a society that is too sensative to children and parents arent parents anymore. They act like equals or friends to the children rather than authority figures. They give in to the childs every demand and want and then when the childs older when he acts out or shows no respect to them or police or any other authority they act suprised. When todays youth dont want to work, have a sense of entitlement, and dont respect authority or their elders we can only look at the parents and most of the time see why. Sometimes the parents are worse then the kid. Some youth need boot camp or a good spanking. Maybe youth of today would be different if a few more parents did spank instead of spoil.
Zack Edgar July 08, 2012 at 12:53 PM
To each, his own. Sounds like you've got a parenting technique that works for you. As for me I don't go through all the drama of what you do. I'm always amused by the parent in public who's trying to dominate their child by counting or giving them the look or threatening them with not getting some material item. Love and affection is the most important but when the line is crossed a spank brings the realization of " I don't want that ever again!". Along with that drama you referred to, I'd think it teaches bad and undesireable habits. My bro and I were disciplined with spanking, my friends were my wife was, to our knowledge our mental functions are fine, and we all love and respect our parents still.
JPauly July 08, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Spanking is much more emotional abuse than physical. A parent who spanks is not in the best of moods and when the child sees this with the pain involved, the emotional fear of will always be there as 'will mommy or daddy' take it to the next level. Also, there goes the message the parent is trying to convey in this process. A parent who has established proper authority will never need to spank the child. Yes, after a hard days work, the restaint with the parent may not be there. This is the hard part about being a parent. My 7 year old daughter looks at a time out as the worse possible thing that could possibly happen to her, including ones that would be short lived. I have established my authority with her, as a parent, and she knows exactly what she could do to lose her liberty. Never have and will never need to spank my children. If this doesn't convince, read the latest studies on the long term harm spanking does to a child. It's time to stop this short term and lazy way of raising a child when there is a need for discipline and start giving some real guidance, where long term benefits for a child are a result.
Verbal Sniper July 08, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Parents nowadays can be charged with battery if they so much as swat their kids.There is always that nosy do gooder who sees a parent disciplining their child and feels it's their duty to notify the police.I'm talking about a light swat not a beating,let's make that clear.I've seen kids with no discipline trample over their parents like a doormat.This is why we have generations of selfish,self- centered,self-serving,entitled brats.
John Roberts July 09, 2012 at 04:54 PM
You don't have to teach your kids violence can happen to you if you get smart,lay on the ground and kick your feet,or fight with your elders...A police officer is always willing to taser,shoot,beat them with a batton,then drag them in front of a man that will lock them in a cage for Years at a time or life...Keep telling your self it's just a phase and not correct your kids behavior...Also never talk about your kid like they are not sitting in the room..Kids have a tendency to play the roll...I don't know why he keeps climbing the counter as you sit in the kitchen talking to your friend while you both watch the kid climb....Parent your children..even if they don't like you in the end....You were never friends or should of never been.
Olddeegee July 09, 2012 at 05:42 PM
So...praise the Lord and beat your kids? You've got a real priorities problem.
Justin Bronzell August 05, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Let me say this: I am 14 years old and have no problem with spanking or hand slapping. I was spanked and had my hands slapped when I was little and it made me realize "Hey, these things I do get me spanked. They're bad. I shouldn't do them." I have no mental illness, and actually no problems of any sort. I don't fear either of my parents. I love them, respect them, and our parent-child relationship couldn't be better. So I am evidence that spanking works and doesn't make your kids hate you. I say go ahead and spank your kids, if you feel that the situation calls for it. If you have found a method that works for you without spanking, then go with that.. If you can amend the situation without spanking, then do that in stead. But spanking is a viable option that works.


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