This week’s Friday Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Maggie Ellison.  She asked our writers,

“In your opinion, or role as a parent, is spanking children an acceptable form of discipline?”

Here’s what some of our World Moms had to say…

Salma of Ontario, Canada writes:
“I have spanked my children, and it wasn’t the best option.  I found that it is best to deal with each child based on his personality.

The times when I did spank it was out of fear (kids run into traffic etc).  I realized that it was my fear that led me to REACT.

From my experience, spanking doesn’t empower children, so I don’t think it’s a good form of discipline.”

Carol @ If By Yes of British Columbia, Canada writes:
“I have to say it is “generally unnecessary”.

As a dog trainer, I know that punishment is not very effective.  Rewards, on the other hand, are highly effective.  One reward is worth ten punishments, and sometimes just consistent consequences of NON-Reward work much better than actual punishers.

For example, rather than choking a dog for pulling on the leash, it is often much more effective to simply not let the dog go where he wants to go until he stops pulling.

I plan on using the non-reward consequences (if you whine, you don’t get what you want – if you don’t follow my instructions, you lose privileges) because that just seems much more effective as well as more humane.

I was never spanked as a child and I have difficulty conceiving of a time when it would be the most effective option.”

MamaRobinJ of British Columbia, Canada writes:
“I’ve never spanked and I do think that intentionally hitting a child as punishment sends the wrong message.  I personally think there’s a difference between a spank and a swat on the bum, which is not something I do either, but the debates on this are so polarizing and I think we need to understand that there are all sorts of shades of grey in any parenting issue.  It’s rarely as black and white as it seems to an outsider.”

Multitasking Mumma of Ontario, Canada writes:
“As a Social Worker AND a former Crisis Worker with children in foster care, I do not think spanking is acceptable or necessary.  Hitting a child for hitting is confusing.  Also, responding with any reaction to a negative behaviour only reinforces that behaviour and teaches the child that when they behave in a negative way they get attention.  Physically harming your child is not the answer.

Natural and logical consequences, follow through, and active listening are.”

Susie Newday of Israel writes:
“With my older kids (back in the middle ages 20 somewhat odd years ago) I probably didn’t think twice.

These days I recognize that often, spanking is for the good of the spanker, not the spankee.  I say ‘often’ because there are rare times, for instance with a smallish child and something dangerous, where you can spank, not out of anger or loss of control.

That said, I think that incident is very rare.  It’s kind of when I laugh at myself when I am yelling at my kids not to yell so much.  Spanking kids teaches them often that violence is acceptable.”

The Alchemist of India writes:
“Spanking/punishing a child distracts him/her from finding ways to effectively handle the issue at hand.  It diverts the child’s mind to thoughts of revenge, anger and sometimes guilt and fear.

I think parenthood should teach us patience.  If we adults, cannot seem to have a hold on our behavior (spanker), how can a child be expected to have the same (the reason for being spanked)?  Patience, repetition of disciplinary suggestions, and understanding the reason behind what prompted bad behavior would give some insight to resolve issues.

I strongly am against spanking!  It is not ever a solution.  Repeated spanking could only be rendered less effective and create nonchalance among the child.

I was never spanked as a child, neither was my husband and we do not think about it at all.”

Asta Burrows of Norway writes:
“Spanking children is not legal here inNorway and it isn’t really something I have ever considered doing.”

Kirsten Doyle of Ontario, Canada writes:
“I think it depends on two things: the personality of the child and how you define the term “spanking”.  I was occasionally spanked as a child (and by “spanked” I’m talking a couple of light taps on the behind).  The spankings themselves did not really hurt, at no point in my childhood did I feel like I was being abused, and I turned out OK.  I believe the idea of being spanked was a reasonably effective deterrent in some cases.

Having said that, I do not spank my own kids.  I just don’t believe it’s a form of discipline that would work for either of them, and it would be downright detrimental to my autistic son.”

TwinMom112 of Pennsylvania, USA writes:
“My brother and I grew up getting “spanked”.  I can tell you that it was NOT effective.  I don’t remember any of the lessons my mother “attempted” to teach us by spanking – but I do remember how I felt/feel about her actions.  I am glad that my children will not have to experience that.”

Tara B. of Washington State, USA writes:
“We don’t spank in our house.  My husband and I believe we need to model the behavior we want our kids to use.  We don’t hit because we tell them they can’t hit, just as we don’t speak rudely because we tell them they cannot.  And if we mess up, we apologize, because we expect them to apologize.  Our goal is to model respect to teach respect.  And our children earn privileges for good behavior and lose privileges for bad behavior so that they can learn to own their decisions and think about consequences.  It may not gain perfect results every time, but it works for us.”

Maman Aya of New York, USA writes:
“I don’t believe in spanking, and have found positive reinforcement to work much better with my son.  That being said, I agree with Robin, there is a difference between spanking and a slap on the bum (which I have done exactly twice – and only for awful misbehavior and defiance).  What I found with the slap, is that he stopped what he was doing and started to be himself again right afterwards.  We were even able to sit down and talk about it logically afterwards, both what caused the misbehavior and what caused the smack on the rump.”

FireCrystals of India writes:
“My son has this annoying habit of hitting his head on the wall or floor when he doesn’t get his way (and he is only 18 months old!).  I generally ignore the first 2 times he does that, and try to distract him somehow.

But the third time he does it, it gets my hackles up, and I slap him on his bum (as Maman_Aya says).  After that, he is as good as an angel.

I wouldn’t even do that, unless he hadn’t tried to hurt himself or others intentionally.”

Dr. Lanham of Arizona, USA writes:
“I have come to realize that each child is different.  My oldest made corrections with a talk and my youngest had to be disciplined with a spanking.  I believe as a parent we know what works best for their kids.  We can not let how others raise their kids affect how we raise our own.”

Kyla P’an of Massachusetts, USA writes:
“I think the punishment should fit the crime and each perpetrator reacts differently to different forms of punishment.  For my oldest, a spank is sometimes the only intervention to end a tirade or bad behavior.  For my youngest, if you just raise your tone with him, he comes completely undone.  Spanking would be the wrong approach for him.

I didn’t turn into an abusive, felon for being spanked as a child nor do I think our child will either.”

Eva Fannon of Washington State, USA writes:
“I was just talking about this with my co-worker (and fellow mom) not too long ago.  We agreed, kind of joking but serious at the same time, that the reason we never misbehaved as children, or talked back to our elders, was because we knew we would get spanked or slapped for it.  My mother used to spank as punishment for bad, disobedient, or rude behavior.  I think that message got across to my youngest brother and I.  I don’t think it had any effect on the middle child, as he was always getting into all kinds of trouble regardless of how many times he got spanked.

I have never spanked my girls, nor do I plan to.  (And quite honestly, I don’t think I have the heart to!)  They respond pretty well to verbal communication.”

What about you…do you think spanking children an acceptable form of discipline?  

And do you have a question you would like to pose to our WMB writers?  If so, email us at wmbsidebareditor@gmail.com to see what they have to say.

Look out for changes in early October, when we move the “Friday Question” to Saturdays and call it the “Saturday Sidebar”!

– World Moms Blog

Photo credit to HA! Designs-Artbyheather http://www.flickr.com/photos/hadesigns/2238624743/.  This photo has a creative commons attribute license.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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