Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Spanking as Discipline: Yes or No?
    Olivia_WebMD_Staff posted:
    To spank or not to spank? That is one of the more popular debates in our parenting communities here at WebMD.

    What are your thoughts? Do you spank? Do you think it is ever an appropriate way to discipline your child?

    What form of discipline works best for you?

    Share your views and defend your stance!


    (Again, remember to attack the position, not the member. Each person has his or her own viewpoint, and you are not likely to change a mind by name-calling or personal attacks.)
    Bulley1030 replied to courageandserenitywisdom's response:
    I totally agree!
    neeru_pdx replied to Bulley1030's response:
    In my world, spanking is NEVER okay. All it teaches is that if you are bigger, it's okay to hit someone if they don't do behave as you want. That is not a lesson I want my children to learn.

    I have lost my temper and spanked my children a couple of times. Both times I apologized and told them how sad and embarrassed I was that I did it. I told them to tell me not to do it if it ever came likely to happen again. I regret that it happened, and even those times were just light smacks on the bottom, but I wish I had not done that.

    I learned nothing good from being spanked as a child.
    Bulley1030 replied to neeru_pdx's response:
    YIKES! that's why I said do whatworks. it's a personal decision. I spank you don't, that doesn't mean you make me sound like a monster because you disagree. chill out on here people! I may disagree but I support anyone's reasoning since they're not my kids!
    neeru_pdx replied to Bulley1030's response:
    oops, I didn't mean to! Sorry Bulley1030. I should have just clicked reply to the debate question, not to the last response. My comments were not directed to anyone specific, just weighing in on the debate with my opinion. I have had to physically carry my child from a store to the car and put them in, shut the door and waited (right outside the car door) for a LONG TIME!!! until they were calm enough for us to buckle up and drive home. Tantrums are a bear to deal with, no matter what your opinion on spanking. I really did not intent to offend.
    I have very bad memories of being afraid of my father due to spankings, and that has affected my decisions.
    Bulley1030 replied to neeru_pdx's response:
    no problem! thanks for the clarification
    3point14 responded:
    I see the whole point of raising a kid to be to teach another human being how to behave in society. I think spanking just confuses that message, and leads to aggression.
    brunosbud responded:
    "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

    Spanking can be a most powerful tool in teaching children proper behavior and discipline...provided its not only "tool" in your box. Compared to my father, Judge Adams is a creampuff.

    From my perspective, it's not a question of whether the child can handle the occasional spanking...

    The issue is: Can the parent?

    Most cannot...
    An_241873 replied to brunosbud's response:
    I und what your saying brunosbud. The only thing is an occasional spanking or swat is very different from that crazy judge Adams which was a BEATING.
    ewcollins replied to KenziesMom12's response:
    When I was a child attending public school in the early 60's, the Dean of Boys in my junior high-school administered discipline with a paddle. He hung it on the wall of his office. It never happened to me so I do not know the exact details. Do you consider this spanking or beating?

    For less severe infractions one would have to do yard work around the school. When this happened I would miss the bus home, and my Dad would have to come pick me up. He would then spank / beat me with one hand while he drove the car with the other. He did a lot of scolding (actually yelling) as well.
    Anon_4858 responded:
    I really do think there is a big difference between beating (or hitting repeatedly, or hitting in anger, or hitting to cause pain) to just a swat on the butt. The only other thing I can compare it to is the Dog Whisperer, and I know I'll probably get some flak for it.

    If you ever watch the Dog Whisperer, when ever the dog was continuing to display a bad behavior, Cesar would make a "pst" sound and nudge it with his foot. Now with spanking, you say "no" and a quick swat on the butt. It's not for pain or to hurt, but to redirect the childs attention. With kids, it should only be used when nothing else can stop the bad behavior, or when the behavior has the potential of causing harm (like walking into the street, or getting too close to the fireplace).

    I know it's not the best anology, but I think its the best way how I can describe it.
    An_241873 replied to Anon_4858's response:
    I couldn't of said it better than that!
    ewcollins replied to Anon_4858's response:
    What if an elderly adult starts acting like a child and ". . . nothing else can stop the bad behavior"? What if "the behavior has the potential of causing harm . . . "?

    Is a "quick swat on the butt", ever acceptable to "redirect" their attention?
    Anon_4858 replied to ewcollins's response:
    There is a vast difference between a child that knows better, and an elderly adult with dementia who doesnt. This debate is about child rearing, not about the elderly.
    brunosbud responded:
    I'll give you an example of the kinds of issues I would consider spanking my child. Read the following article...

    In my mind, there is no grey area on this issue; it is black and white. You can't be half right anymore than you can be half pregnant in describing how disgusting these girls behaved when asked to keep their voices down in that library.

    I don't care how old my child was...9 mos, 9 years, or, in this case...19. If I observed them talking loudly enough in a public library to disrupt others, I'd frag their a$$ in a heartbeat.

    Obviously, there are many parents, here, who would clearly disagree with me. I realize, I'm in the minority when it comes to spanking...

    At the same time, I wonder...

    Of the legions of kids you see talking loudly, texting and playing music on their IPhones when you sit inside a public library, today, I wonder how many of them never received a single swat on their behinds their entire lives?

    Whatever the percentage, whoever raised those kids simply did not do their jobs...

    and, you know who you are...
    ewcollins replied to Anon_4858's response:
    An elderly adult need not have dementia to exhibit bad or dangerous behavior, even if they know better.

    I know it varies, but in general, between what ages is it permissible to spank someone else to "redirect" their attention?

    I wonder what percentage of children who are beaten were first given a "quick swat on the butt"? Is spanking ever a "gateway" to beating?

    I also wonder what percentage of children who assault their parents where spanked when they were young.

    WebMD Talk Show

    Feel like a friendly debate? Take the gloves off and defend your viewpoint.

    Learn More

    Expert Blog

    Diagnosis: Reality Check

    Putting perspective on health news and names in the spotlight.Read More