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July 04, 2013



I might spank my kid if I thought it would actually accomplish anything. In his case, holding back rewards for good behavior works better. The only times I was spanked as a kid----were in school. And that was the 1970s, not all that long ago----but wow, have times changed. Two different teachers spanked me, 5th grade and 8th grade.

Ed S

I was spanked and hit and belted, and all it really did was make sneakier to make sure I wouldn't get caught. It also permanently changed the way I felt about my parents... I never felt I could completely trust them or confide in them... No telling how negatively they would react. Fear was not effective, in my experience. I broke the abuse cycle with my son, never hit him (what would you do NOW if an adult hit you every time he didn't like your behavior?)... and he's never been in trouble. So I'm with your wife. Hitting and the euphemistic "spanking" is not justified or effective.


I think restraint (of the child) rather than beating might be more effective. Beating up a little kid only teaches that child that the solution to all of life's problems are physical violence without really making it clear to them why what they are doing is wrong. People often favour "old ways" because they're simpler and require less thought. That doesn't mean it's the best way of doing anything. Society has changed radically in the last few decades and one must also take that into account.

Bill Bush

Do not hit your kids. It will breed resentment. Also, if you have one that can spend an hour being angry over nothing and then is allowed to hit you and act out with no recourse, you have a building problem. How does each child react to removal of privileges? They are individuals, despite being twins, and probably react differently. Do you think both kids should have been "punished" for one's actions? Do you think what you did was 'punishment"? It was not. It was delayed, and similar to usual "reward" activity and thus not connected to the bad behavior.
I have watched a pair of kids, one rather meek and a pleaser, and the other a manipulative, sneaky pincher and hitter, have a bad relationship with the "bad" one getting away with her tricks constantly because the parents did not want to face the fact that they had a "problem" child who did not respond to removal of privileges, but lived to control and vanquish the "nice" one who was not defended against her sibling's depredations.
Is what you describe a recurrent pattern? Sorry to sound negative, but parents tend to ignore patterns of behavior that would bring them awareness of things they don't want to admit. Don't ask me how I know.


Hi, Jeff,

As you know, we have twin 5 year old girls. One of our girls has attention problems and can pitch tantrums if confronted with something that, to her, seems overwhelming; something that requires many small task instead of one, two or three bigger tasks (cleaning up a messy room, is a great example).

We have never spanked our kids. When our girls throw fits, we simply take away privileges and talk them down from fits and tantrums. We do give them compassion even when they're being next to impossible to manage. We avoid, under any circumstance, even accidentally rewarding them somehow when they act up.

It's not easy, and sometimes I certainly share your sentiment (as I was raised "old school"). But frankly, one of the reasons I'm happy that I'm not in the habit of spanking our kids is because that once in a blue moon when they *really* get me upset, I would not trust myself if put in a position to discipline them with physical force. It's during those times that I lose a bit of my ability to self-control my strength. I would not be able to live with myself if I ever directly caused my girls physical harm.

My wife and I read and follow a brilliant parenting blog, by Dr. Laura Markham, called Aha Parenting:

We've found that even when we had serious doubts about some suggestions she's made, when implemented, they simply work.

Especially since you have twins, you should consider searching for "special time" on her site. It's a very effective way to get good parent time with each child.



No spanking policy sounds best. Thanks for the website, Thomas. I need to look at it ASAP.


We have brought up 3 sons who are now all well adjusted successful adults. With the first one I used to smack him sometimes however that didn't help at all. By the time we got to the third one I had given up smacking as being ineffective. Time out in their room is a good policy as it can usually be done straight away and it gives you a break also so you can cool down. It is important that punishments are seen as being just. For example we had a policy of You Break It - You Pay for It. We didn't tell them off for the breakage. We just took the money out their money box and they came down the store with us and they handed the money over for the replacement.

Parenting is like anything else. You have to learn how to do it and unfortunately the first one (or two in your case) is the experimental model. By the time we had three we were very laid back. We had seen it all before and nothing fazed us. Just relax and try to enjoy the parenting experience. They will learn more from your example than you can ever teach them by smacking or even lecturing them.


I'll add one other thing to the discussion----when it comes to things like eating dinner, don't let the child conclude that they are holding power over you if they eat----or if they decide not to. I had a disagreement with my sister-in-law over this when she and my brother were visiting, and she started telling my son (6 or 7 at the time) that he had to eat dinner to get to go to the store or finish dinner to get dessert----in other words, she was making a big deal out of his eating habits at dinner time. I stopped it immediately. I don't want him to clue in to his eating or lack of eating as mattering to me that much. I don't want the drama. I put food out. If he likes it and eats it, great. If it's something he tries and doesn't like----I have no problem keeping it as a leftover for myself and giving him something fast and easy to make that he prefers, like a PBJ sandwich. Low stress...no big confrontation and drama over something like dinner. Instead of dwelling on conflict like so many parents do, I try to minimize it----and bask in the enjoyment of spending time with my young son, who will be a teenager in a few years----and want nothing to do with me as his friends/peers take the lead and he wants some separation. Create great memories----laugh a lot----let the kids win once in a while. Happiness as an adult sometimes happens with low stress as a child. And we lost my wife when he wasn't even five years old yet. When he stresses out about something "This is the worst day of my life" material, I tell him no----we lived through the worst days of our life when his Mom passed. The other stuff is static we can easily overcome. That seems to resonate with him.


You can choose not to discipline your children if you want, but for the Love of God keep them off airliners.

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