Summer Frustration: To Spank or Not to Spank.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner


One month into summer (aka, kids tearing through the house seven day a week, enjoying unstructured time, driving us caregivers crazy) seems a natural moment to tackle one of the modern dilemmas of parenthood no one likes to discuss honestly: to spank or not to spank.


Now of course most parents – especially mature, well-educated adults like us -- KNOW spanking is barbaric, ineffective, old-fashioned or at least unnecessary. But you can stop holding your breath: I have met few parents who have never spanked a child. And 100% of those have only one child.





First, let’s define terms: spanking means a light swat on a child’s clothed bottom, an area of the body without much feeling that is in fact designed to cushion blows. The goal of a spank is twofold: to get a young child’s attention, and to communicate that they have done something dangerous, destructive or disrespectful that should never be repeated. As a victim of family violence myself, I need to underscore the dramatic difference between a spank and physical abuse. There is no comparison between the two.


In principle, spanking sounds logical and reasonable. After all, part of our responsibility as parents is to teach children not to act destructively or recklessly. Not to run into the street. Not to put the new kitten headfirst in the toilet. Not to use Mommy’s fuschia toenail polish to color the living room walls. If a light swat on the tush works, it works.


I’m disappointed to read this post in an otherwise savvy working moms blog. A tongue-in-cheek spin doesn’t make spanking OK. No matter what the “crazy” situation, swatting or hitting or spanking are all just euphemisms for a parent taking their anger out on a child. So sad.

Although I was belted regularly my mother as a child, I’ve never hit my kids. Ever. It’s a terrible legacy to perpetuate. I’m very proud of my kids’ great behavior, and would highly recommend Jane Nelsen’s “Positive Discipline” books to anyone interested in caring, effective discipline methods.


For me, spanking is something done by parents who are at their wits-end and have no more tricks in their dicipline bag. I have not, and will not spank my 3 kids.

Research has shown that spanking in eneffective because it teaches children not to get caught but not to change the behavior. I try very hard to find consiquences that will encourage the changing of behavior instead of encouraging the fear of the decipline

While it is not my place to judge other moms in their walk of life, I hope moms will choose to look for alternative, better forms of dicipline.


In my house, you hit, you sit. No exceptions. So no, I have not hit any of my 3 kids.

Any dicipline done in anger will not work, it is better to be calm and make sure the dicipline will stick.

I will not judge others in how they dicipline, but for me, spanking is something used when the parent is overwhelmed and angry.

Julie Cole

I have six kids. The oldest is 10 and has autism. Believe me, I have experienced frustration. But, I don't and have never spanked because this is what it represents to me:

1) The ultimate power imbalance: I’m bigger than you and I'm allowed to hit you when it suits me. Well, I wasn’t a bully when I was a kid, and I don’t plan on becoming one to my own kiddos.

2) The ultimate contradiction: screaming “DON’T HIT YOUR BROTHER” while smacking your kid’s bottom somehow doesn’t work for me. Who missed the memo about the importance of role-modeling good behaviour for your children?

3) The ultimate loss of control. Kids don’t get spanked because they are out of control – they get spanked because their parents are out of control.

It's my job to come up with better strategies. You can have well behaved children without spanking them. I do.