How to Spank a Child (2023)

How to spank a child. What does your kid need to do to deserve a spanking? Many of us have memories of being spanked as a child. Spanking has gotten a bad rap in the past few years, even though for a lot of us, it was our parent’s discipline of choice.

How to Spank a Child (2)

Table of contents

  1. How to spank a child
  2. Child Discipline Stories
  3. Why do parents spank their child?
  4. How to spank
  5. Things to do other than spank your child
  6. Why you should not spank your child
  7. How to spank FAQ’s

How to spank a child

I believe that spanking has a VERY limited place in parenting and before I have ever done it I run through this list in my head:

  1. Am I angry — you should never spank when you’re angry. {Is this a surprise?}
  2. Is the natural consequence of what they’re doing something they can handle? (aka, running into a street of cars or sticking a finger in a light socket.)
  3. What am I trying to elicit by spanking? Do I just want them hurting or is there more to it?

First, I think we need to explore…

American Academy of Pediatrics Position on Spanking

The AAP says to NEVER spank a child.

They recommend not using aggressive behavior with your kids as it can have negative effects and ultimately doesn’t change children’s behavior.

I liked this article on their statement from NPR.

Honestly, I agree with this statement in general. If we were all perfect parents who headed off serious safety concerns before they happened and we had kids that always listened — I 100% would stay this course.

The American Psychological Association says that research shows physical punishment can lead to negative outcomes like increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury, and mental health problems.

The reality is that spanking can often lead to more behavioral problems than you are solving. The effects of spanking aren’t giving you the result you want. It may cause MORE disruptive behavior, so you should try something else.

Effective discipline stops a problem behavior and re-routes a child to positive outcomes.

Spanked as a child memories

I don’t have many memories of being spanked as a child. I think my parents used it very similarly to how I have used it as a parent.

If you have negative connotations of your parents hitting you as a child, it is likely that spanking is a method you will not choose. And that’s OK. It could give both you and your child mental health problems.

(Video) How to Spank Your Kids the Right Way

Why I Have Spanked

We do not spank often around here, but I have done it. Those times have fallen into 3 categories:

  1. My kids wouldn’t listen to a rule that was for their safety. Light sockets, running into the road, running away from me in a parking lot. Stuff like that. They need a vivid reminder that it is NOT OK, because I want them to live. Playing around a pool without an adult would also fall into this category.
  2. My kids were so insane with their own rage I couldn’t snap them out of it. This was usually a quick swat on the behind to get them to take a breath and so I could get their attention. This isn’t hard, just a quick pop, and used for kids out of the baby phase.
  3. I have spanked out of anger once or twice. I’m not going to lie. I think most parents have. I have also gone back and apologized and vowed to NOT do this again.

Positive Effects of Corporal Punishment

Safety — especially with #1 above.

I can’t tolerate my kids having the natural consequence of seriously unsafe actions. So, I give them a reminder to NEVER do it again. AND, because I rarely spanked, it leaves a vivid impression. The plan was for them to remember the positive behavior.

I am also quick to have an once we’re out of the situation (and calm) to remind them why I did it and how much I love them and want them to be safe and make good choices.

It would also be important to head off anything like this that you anticipate. Like, talking about parking lot safety before you unbuckle them, etc.

Why do parents spank their child?

I would hope that most of them would fall into #1, but I fear that the anger dwelling inside of someone tormented by a child 24 hours/day can bubble up. We are all human beings — and I really think most parents are doing their absolute best.

But, ultimately spanking out of anger is child abuse. Clearly, something you want to try to avoid.

This all being said — I think most parents spank because they are at their wit’s end and they literally have no idea what to do. A lot of this can be solved by getting into routines that make day to day life easier (giving you more of “you” to handle when things get crazy). Family Routines helps parents get their kids to help them manage the house — and also get into positive routines that make daily life easier. Save 10% with code PC10.

How to spank

For us, when my kids are tiny and making unsafe mistakes I do a quick hand squeeze. One firm enough to cause a little pain but quick enough to be done with it. I follow up with short verbal instruction “not safe” or “we don’t run into the road”.

If that doesn’t work, it extends to a quick hand swat. Since I only do this in dangerous situations, they know it’s serious.

Someone has to be the mamma bear showing baby bears how to not get eaten or hurt.

I think you want to be as gentle as you can to get your point across. Hard spanking is most often done out of anger and there is probably a better way to address the situation. There’s no reason to get out a wooden spoon… as I think some current parents had done by their parents.

A sharp hand press, a quick pop on the mouth if they’re in a rage you can’t snap them out of.

The main thing is to keep the anger out of the equation, to focus on what you hope the spank will do.

Focus on the end goal — will a spank help that?

Do Most Parents Spank?

In a general social survey in the United States it shows that parents approval of corporal punishment is decreasing. I think most parents are realizing that it isn’t effective and could easily get out of hand (and perhaps it did for them as a child).

(Video) Discipline Techniques

In my own personal surveys with friends, I think most parents have spanked once or twice. While this form of punishment can have negative consequences, parents are sometimes overwhelmed and need a way to get kids attention.

How many spanks should my child get?

I have only ever found one quick swat/squeeze to be effective. It is an attention grabber, less than a pain thing, for me. I do not think repeated spanking is OK.

Things to do other than spank your child

There are lots of other types of healthy forms of discipline that should be utilized before spanking your child:

  1. Leaving them alone — when my kids were little I had a playpen set up in that I’d put them in when they were having behavior issues, most often this was for their own safety as I needed a time out. This was a safe space with some small toys (if age appropriate) that we could use to both cool down. If they’re a bit older a time out can also be used to mostly help the parent calm down.
  2. Utilizing natural consequences (cleaning things up, etc) << that one is ALWAYS the best one, but sometimes you need a little time to think.
  3. Make your expectations clear and consistent. If children know that xyz is expected and if it’s not done it will always have xyz consequence they realize boundaries easily.
  4. Positive reinforcement of good behavior.

**Sometimes you just need to calm down and that’s OK. Parenting is a HARD job that is relentless. Make sure your child is in a safe environment and take a quick timeout yourself. Some people find this kind of thing helpful.

Why you should not spank your child

I think our kids deserve a generally pleasant pain-free childhood.

Spanking can be a tool we use to adjust behaviors in young children, but I do not believe that it should be used often. If you are using it on a daily basis, I would encourage you to get help.

Spanking can also show kids that hitting someone is OK if they do something wrong — like, if another child takes their toy. That isn’t what you want to teach.

Some people think it hurts the trust between you and them — which is why I think it’s important to have an after you’ve used spanking as a tool. This lets your child know why you thought it was necessary and that hitting others is not normally a tool they should use.

How to spank your child in public

I would only resort to spanking a child in public if a serious safety concern was the issue.

It is embarrassing to your child and also a safety hazard to yourself. Other parents/bystanders may call CPS (child protective services) on you and I think that’s something I’d rather not have.

How to spank a teenager

While there may be times that you want to launch them out a window, I don’t believe in spanking teenagers.

They no longer lack the maturity to understand consequences or get their behavior under control.

If they lack those things, they likely need to be under the care of a physician and you need more tools in your parenting toolbox.

**But believe me, never has a term “knock some sense into them” been more true than when parenting teens (especially older almost-adult teens).

I spanked my child and left a red mark

This wasn’t me — but spanking should not happen on bare skin, it is a way to get their attention, not to hurt them.

Remember the checklist before you spank:

(Video) How and Why You Must SPANK BAD KIDS!

  1. Are you angry? Don’t spank. Or at least, don’t spank yet — get yourself under control before you use this method. There are other methods that will be more effective for both of you if you can’t get under control.
  2. Is there a natural consequence you could employ that would be similarly effective? Natural consequences are the best consequences.
  3. What are you trying to teach your child — is there another method that would be more successful? Example: If you’re in your front yard and your child keeps running out in the road, perhaps you just go inside and let him have some down time alone in his room.

How to spank FAQ’s

What age is OK to spank a child?

I think spanking is mainly necessary/effective in the toddler/preschooler age. Babies (under 1) should not be spanked and kids over 5 should have other methods that are more effective.

Can parents spank a child?

I mean, you CAN — but others can also call CPS on you. So, be cautious about that.

At what age should you discipline your child?

I would think all ages — especially after they’re making their own choices. If a toddler is being unsafe I do a hand squeeze. However, there are lots of ways to discipline a child that don’t involve spanking.

Is it good to spank your child?

Probably not. But, as a method of safety, I think you can make an impression that they won’t forget.

Does spanking cause good behavior?

Most often it does not, but if used extremely sparingly, it can teach a lesson if necessary.

(Video) Are You Allowed To Spank Your Kids (Legally)?

When does spanking verge onto physical abuse?

I think it has to do with the parent’s attitude at the time, personally. Spanking is not a long term solution. Physical discipline is not a long term solution for any negative behaviors.

Final thoughts on spanking:

If you’re pro or against spanking I think the most important part is that you’re raising competent adults. Before you know it, they’ll be out of the house and on their own and your parenting actions can either make them amazing, or less amazing.

Be thoughtful, be under control, and help them see the consequences of their behavior.

I hope you enjoyed this post, proving old fashioned discipline methods are not always right. Talking about when is the right time to spank a child. The advantages of smacking your child. Plus, what to do if I spanked my toddler and feel awful. The use of spanking often isn’t the best approach — hopefully you’ve found some other tools that can help.

You also need to figure out WHY you feel like that. Are there things you could make easier in your day that would allow you to have more patience with your kids? Don’t forget this course will help you do that! You can even save 10% with code PC10!

And, if you’re not quite ready for the full thing — try my free practical parenting series:



(Video) The "Secret" to well-behaved Amish Children



How hard should you spank a child? ›

"Striking a child above the waist is more likely to be considered abusive." Using a bare, open hand is least likely to be considered abusive. Using an instrument like a belt may be OK "as long as injury does not occur." But the use of phone cords, yardsticks, ropes, and shoes are more likely to be considered abuse.

How many times should a child be spanked? ›

As a general suggestion, for the first offense of the child, resort to non-physical discipline. If your child repeats the act, that's equal to two spanks. If you resort to spanking to correct your child's negative behaviors, make sure to make them understand why that particular behavior is bad.

How do you discipline your child answer? ›

These include:
  1. Show and tell. Teach children right from wrong with calm words and actions. ...
  2. Set limits. Have clear and consistent rules your children can follow. ...
  3. Give consequences. ...
  4. Hear them out. ...
  5. Give them your attention. ...
  6. Catch them being good. ...
  7. Know when not to respond. ...
  8. Be prepared for trouble.
Nov 5, 2018

Is spanking illegal? ›

According to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, a total 63 states worldwide have made smacking children illegal in any setting, including the home. Corporal punishment is illegal in schools in a total of 135 countries.

How do you punish a child without hitting them? ›

Ten Alternatives To Spanking By Destry Maycock
  1. Give choices. A choice gives some control back to the child on the parents' terms. ...
  2. Take a timeout. Yes, you the parent walk away. ...
  3. Get someone else involved. ...
  4. Teach them what you expect. ...
  5. Recognize their positive behaviors. ...
  6. Timeout. ...
  7. Consequence. ...
  8. Pick your battles.

Which punishment is most effective? ›

Positive punishment can be effective when it immediately follows the unwanted behavior. It works best when applied consistently. It's also effective alongside other methods, such as positive reinforcement, so the child learns different behaviors.

What type of conditioning is spanking? ›

It's a type of behavior modification that comes from the method of learning known as operant conditioning, a process developed by behaviorist B.F. Skinner. An example of positive punishment would be spanking your child for breaking something in the house. You're “adding” the unwanted spanking as a consequence.

What are the 5 types of discipline? ›

The 5 types are:
  • Positive Discipline.
  • Gentle Discipline.
  • Boundary-Based Discipline.
  • Behavior Modification.
  • Emotion Coaching.
Mar 13, 2021

What are the 3 types of discipline? ›

The three types of discipline are preventative, supportive, and corrective discipline. PREVENTATIVE discipline is about establishing expectations, guidelines, and classroom rules for behavior during the first days of lessons in order to proactively prevent disruptions.

How do I get my child to respect me? ›

10 Ways to Get Your Children to Respect You
  1. Respect your children. ...
  2. Respect their mother. ...
  3. Be consistent. ...
  4. Follow through. ...
  5. Spend more time teaching love than teaching rules. ...
  6. Live with integrity. ...
  7. Be a family. ...
  8. Be a leader.

What is the most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child? ›

Never belittle their suffering

Other users pointed out phrases that are more obviously damaging to a child . Ellen Perkins wrote: "Without doubt, the number one most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child is 'I don't love you' or 'you were a mistake'.

Is smacking your child OK? ›

Research clearly shows that smacking your child is ineffective, impacting negatively on children's social, emotional and cognitive development. Children smacked in childhood are much more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, drug use and resort to aggression as they get older.

Is spanking illegal? ›

According to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, a total 63 states worldwide have made smacking children illegal in any setting, including the home. Corporal punishment is illegal in schools in a total of 135 countries.

How do you discipline a child without hitting and yelling? ›

If you're looking for alternative to spanking, here are eight ways to discipline your child without using physical punishment.
  1. Time-Out. ...
  2. Losing Privileges. ...
  3. Ignoring Mild Misbehavior. ...
  4. Teaching New Skills. ...
  5. Logical Consequences. ...
  6. Natural Consequences. ...
  7. Rewards for Good Behavior. ...
  8. Praise for Good Behavior.
Sep 17, 2020

What happens if you get spanked? ›

The experts came to a rather startling conclusion: Spanking causes similar emotional and developmental harm as abuse to children. According to the study, the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and experience: antisocial behavior. aggression.

Does spanking teach children? ›

Research has long underscored the negative effects of spanking on children's social-emotional development, self-regulation, and cognitive development, but new research, published this month, shows that spanking alters children's brain response in ways similar to severe maltreatment and increases perception of threats.


1. HOW TO SPANK YOUR CHILD | Pro Tips from a Top Voted Pediatrician
(paulthomasmd - Dr. Paul)
2. Parents Who Spank Their Children, WHY?
(Internet Is Fun Studios)
4. If You Spank Your Kids With A Belt That's Called Abuse | Viral Tik Tok 2021
(TikTok Therapy)
5. The Captain's Kid Spanking
(Alpha Club)
6. Parenting Techniques: To Spank or Not to Spank?
(ABC News)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Neely Ledner

Last Updated: 01/07/2023

Views: 5589

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Neely Ledner

Birthday: 1998-06-09

Address: 443 Barrows Terrace, New Jodyberg, CO 57462-5329

Phone: +2433516856029

Job: Central Legal Facilitator

Hobby: Backpacking, Jogging, Magic, Driving, Macrame, Embroidery, Foraging

Introduction: My name is Neely Ledner, I am a bright, determined, beautiful, adventurous, adventurous, spotless, calm person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.