We can raise children to be cooperative, respectful, and productive adults without ever spanking them. Other forms of limit setting are more constructive and effective in the long run. While all children need discipline, there is no evidence they need spanking. In spite of the opposition to spanking by most professionals, many parents turn to spanking under certain conditions. If you are among them, spank carefully and be aware of the potential side effects.
- First: Hit only with an open hand. It is difficult to judge how hard you are hitting your child unless you use your hand. Never use paddles or belts.
- Second: Spank only on the buttocks, legs, or hand. Hitting a child on the face is demeaning as well as dangerous. If he suddenly moves, you might rupture his eardrum or damage his vision.
- Third: One swat is enough to change behavior. Hitting your child more than once will teach nothing, but will leave him extra angry.
- Fourth: Never spank a child before 1 year of age. Infants deserve a kinder approach. Give up spanking by school age. You can negotiate with a 5 year old.
- Finally: Spanking should never be used for aggressive behaviors, such as biting or hitting, because it teaches your child that it is all right to hit. Aggressive children need to be shown restraint and self-control. Give your child a time-out instead.
If you have questions about spanking, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 9/1/2005
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.