Opposition to parents spanking their children has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past few years. And, my blogs on spanking are among the most read of those I publish. Therefore, I’ve decided to, with the help of the research of my friends Den Trumbull, MD, S. DuBose Ravenel, MD, to look a the arguments used against spanking, to see if they hold any water. This is the fourth of a 12 part series.
Argument #3: Since parents often refrain from hitting until the anger or frustration reaches a certain point, the child learns that anger and frustration justify the use of physical force.
A study published in Pediatrics indicates that most parents who spank do not spank on impulse, but purposefully spank their children with a belief in its effectiveness.
Furthermore, the study revealed no significant correlation between the frequency of spanking and the anger reported by mothers.
In point of fact, the mothers who reported being angry were not the same parents who spanked.
Reactive, impulsive hitting after losing control due to anger is unquestionably the wrong way for a parent to use corporal punishment.
Eliminating all physical punishment in the home, however, would not remedy such explosive scenarios. It could even increase the problem.
When effective spanking is removed from a parent’s disciplinary repertoire, he or she is left with nagging, begging, belittling, and yelling, once the primary disciplinary measures-such as time-out and logical consequences-have failed.
By contrast, if proper spanking is proactively used in conjunction with other disciplinary measures, better control of the particularly defiant child can be achieved, and moments of exasperation are less likely to occur.
 Socolar, Rebecca R. S., M.D. and Stein, Ruth E.K., M.D., “Spanking Infants and Toddlers: Maternal Belief and Practice,” Pediatrics 95 (1995): 105-111.
Here’s the entire series:
- Argument #1: Many psychological studies show that spanking is an improper form of discipline.
- Argument #2: Physical punishment establishes the moral righteousness of hitting other persons who do something which is regarded as wrong.
- Argument #3: Since parents often refrain from hitting until the anger or frustration reaches a certain point, the child learns that anger and frustration justify the use of physical force.
- Argument #4: Physical punishment is harmful to a child.
- Argument #5: Physical punishment makes the child angry at the parent.
- Argument #6: Spanking teaches a child that “might makes right,” that power and strength are most important and that the biggest can force their will upon the smallest.
- Argument #7: Spanking is violence.
- Argument #8: Spanking is an ineffective solution to misbehavior.
- Argument #9: Adults who were spanked as children are at risk for using violence as a means of resolving conflicts as adults.
- Argument #10: Spanking leads a parent to use harmful forms of corporal punishment which lead to physical child abuse.
- Argument #11: Spanking is never necessary.
You can read more of my blogs on spanking here:
- Is Spanking Associated with Child Abuse?
- The ABCD’s of Parenting – Part 7 – Discipline
- Spanking a Child – Is it Good or Bad?
By the way, an introduction is in order. Den A. Trumbull, MD is a board-certified pediatrician in private practice in Montgomery, Alabama. He is Vice President of the American College of Pediatricians. S. DuBose Ravenel, MD is a board-certified pediatrician in private practice in High Point, North Carolina. He served for 11 years on the pediatric faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine prior to entering private practice.