How to Spank Your Kids the Right Way

Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. – Proverbs 29:17

I’m by no means a perfect person, or a perfect parent, but there is one thing that I am happy to say about my household: I have peace in my house and my heart is glad.

My kids are pleasant for the most part. We have lots of fun together. They aren’t afraid of me. They are fun-loving, carefree toddlers, just like all toddlers should be. They ask a lot of questions, they like to get into stuff, they make a mess, they pee in their pants, but they’re great kids. I love ‘em.

I don’t ever yell at my kids. Ever. But they seem to mind pretty good. Just today I was able to get my two year old to eat all her vegetables without lifting my voice at all. How, you ask? I spank my kids.

spanking_420-420x0I don’t like to spank my kids. I really don’t. I avoid it as much as possible, but I’ve found that it is the only effective way to really teach your children properly. I like rewards much better. Today I told my two year old that if she ate all her vegetables that I would give her a popsicle afterwards. Sometimes that works. Today it didn’t. She didn’t care about the popsicle enough to want to eat her vegetables. It’s important to me that she eats her vegetables, so I added the punishment: “Katee, if you don’t eat your vegetables, I’m going to give you a spanking, but if you do, I’m going to give you a popsicle”

WHAT?? I can see the jaws dropping now and the heads shaking. But here’s the thing: it worked. She ate every last bite. Then I gave her a popsicle – and she was glad to have it! I was happy, she was happy. She even gave me a proud high-five after eating the last bite of veggies.

You might be wondering, “would he have really spanked her for not eating them?” Yes I would. I have before.

But here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have forced her to eat them. You can’t really force anyone to do anything. You can only hope to persuade them. As a parent, I know that Katee needs to eat her vegetables, so I want to be very persuasive.

Some people may think this is harsh, but I think its much less harsh then what I see in households all the time: yelling and screaming constantly, parents emotionally trashing their kids to try to get them to do what they want them to do. I think that is abusive. Spanking your kids properly is not abusive.

A few months ago I asked Halle to pick up her toys. She wouldn’t. I told her that if she didn’t, I would give her a spanking. I calmly told her I was going to count to three and if she didn’t get started she was getting a spanking. Three came and she wasn’t moving. I picked her up and carried her over to the couch. She screamed bloody murder. She begged and pleaded not to get spanked, she said she was sorry, but I know that if you want your kids to respect you, then your threats need to be meaningful. I pulled the back of her pants down just enough to expose her buttocks. I took a wooden spoon and spanked her, and I did it hard. One or two licks is all I do, sometimes three. I explained to her why she needed to listen to me and then held her as lovingly as possible until she stopped crying (I won’t let them go to their mother until they calm down). After about 10 minutes she is calmed down enough, and I let her go to her mother. She loves on her a little bit. As toddlers, I usually don’t make them do whatever I spanked them for after I spank them. I don’t feel like its a worth having to spank them again if they don’t do it. The point is that I give them a choice, and now they know (or are reminded) that choosing a spanking is not the best choice.

I’ve never had to spank Halle again regarding picking up her toys. As a matter of fact, I spank my children very rarely. Once or twice a month is all I ever spank them. It was more in the beginning when we first started spanking them, but once they learned how it works then it was a lot less. Today I ask Halle to pick up her toys and she does it. Sometimes she cries while she’s doing it, but she does it. And its amazing how happy she is with herself after she does!

So am I doing this just to have a calm household? No, not just for me, but for them. The incredible skill that spankings teach them will be a skill that we be invaluable in their future. It’s called self-discipline.

When Halle picks up toys, crying while she does it, she’s exercising self-discipline. She is learning that, in life, you have to do things you don’t want to do sometimes. She picks up her toys now because she doesn’t want the pain of a spanking, but that same exercise of self-discipline will come in handy when she needs to study for a test, so she won’t face the pain of failing, or manage her money, so she won’t face the pain of being broke. The uses of this great skill are endless.

“But,” someone might say, “spankings don’t work for my child.” Well, take your bible then, and throw it out the window. Seriously.

God says that it works. Maybe you just aren’t working it right.

I think the majority of the time, people who say spankings don’t work either don’t spank hard enough, or don’t continue in it – they give up after a few times.

I remember as a kid, I was terrified of my dad’s spankings, but with my mom, I would just pretend to cry when she spanked me so she wouldn’t get my dad. Her spankings didn’t hurt. Spankings need to hurt.

Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart. – Proverbs 20:30

You don’t have to beat the tar out of your kid to make it hurt. It just has to sting. That’s why I never recommend using your hand. Your hand is a blunt object that probably has some padding on it. You’ll have to really hit your kid hard to make it hurt. But if you use a wooden spoon or small stick, a little whack will sting bad, but do no damage. Try it on yourself. It’ll sting, but nothing more.

The second thing is that you must continue in it. Be serious if you threaten a spanking. If you don’t go through with your threats your children will easily and quickly pick up on it. It may take a little bit for it to start working. Use wisdom. God gave you a brain. Pray about it. Ask God for help.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on this. My kids are still toddlers. All I know is that this is what the bible clearly teaches – and it works for me so far.

I work around a lot of teenagers. Self-discipline is severely lacking in many of them. Is it because spankings have become so taboo? I think it might have something to do with it. I can’t tell for sure. But I sure can tell which teens have been properly raised up with the paddle. They tend to be the most pleasant, the most respectful, and the most diligent. I want my kids to be that way. I’m sure you do, too.

About Hal Chaffee

Student Pastor at Five Rivers Church in Elkton, MD View all posts by Hal Chaffee

29 responses to “How to Spank Your Kids the Right Way

  • You shall beat your child with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell. | Hal's Journal

    […] [I have written another blog more recently about this subject. Check it out here: How to Spank Your Kids the Right Way] […]

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  • Sara

    The Bible also endorses stoning one’s children to death. I hope you don’t read the whole thing so uncritically. That said, I wish more of today’s parents disciplined their children…Most don’t, and the results aren’t pretty.

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    • Hal Chaffee

      With all due respect ma’am, the bible does not endorse such a thing. The only thing that is close to this idea is the command under a temporary jewish penal system to stone a GROWN son (an adult) who is continually rebellious after many repeated warnings, and this only after he is brought before the authorities. The book of proverbs (the book i have quoted in my blog) is not a part of that Jewish penal system, but a book of transcendent wisdom that we would do well to heed.

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  • Jeremy S

    My 3.5 year old son is driving my insane. His daycare claims that he is the most well-behaved kid in the group. But at home, it is quite the opposite. According to his pediatrician this is normal, and I tend to agree. Better this than the other way around.

    The problem I’m having though is the level of open disobedience he has. I have no problem spanking him. But it doesn’t work. Nothing works. Timeouts are a joke and spanking is almost as useless. I could spank him once everyday of the week and he still won’t respect my authority.

    Bed time is the worst. With enough warning of the encroaching bed time, he won’t fight the starting of the process, which is great. We have a routine and we stick to it every night. When he’s finally in bed and I’m ready to leave the room, the pr

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    • Jeremy S

      Didn’t finish…

      Problem happens when I leave the room. I tell him every night – when I shut this door I don’t want any yelling or banging or screaming. If I have to cone back in here it will be to spank you.

      Inevitably he rebels right away so I go in and spank him and leave. 5 minutes later he yells and bangs on his bed so I go in and spank him again. This is usually the end of it for the night. But this is a nightly occurrence. Frankly, the spanking is not working. I spank him every night for the same reason. I’m about to call it quits and just sound proof his room so I don’t hear him openly defying my rule. Obviously I know that’s not the answer, but I’m seriously at my wits end here.

      Ideas?

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      • Hal Chaffee

        Hey Jeremy, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m going to throw a few suggestions at you, but since I don’t know your whole situation, some may or may not apply.

        1- make sure you are spending plenty of quality time playing with him and loving him. If not, you will provoke him to anger.

        2- Make sure your spankings are meaningful. Don’t use your hand; use a wooden spoon or small wooden rod. Test it on yourself and make sure it stings bad, but doesn’t cause harm. I often see parents throw their hands up when it comes to spanking, and often the case is that the spanking isn’t causing pain – remember, you need blows that hurt.

        3- I would recommend not spanking him for screaming in bed. Just let him scream until he falls asleep. It’s hard for kids to control their emotions that young. Instead, put your headphones in and just ignore it (or use a noise maker). If he gets out of bed, tell him that next time that if he gets out of bed, that you will spank him. After a while he’ll realize that screaming doesn’t work and he will not do it for as long, until he doesn’t do it at all.

        Spankings DO work. The bible says they do, and God doesn’t lie. If it’s not working for you then you aren’t working it right. Change up your tactics, pray for wisdom, be patient, and do everything out of love. Your son needs to respect your authority. His well-being as a person depends on it.

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  • Ronny

    You might be wondering, “would he have really spanked her for not eating them?” Yes I would. I have before.

    “But here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have forced her to eat them. You can’t really force anyone to do anything. You can only hope to persuade them. As a parent, I know that Katee needs to eat her vegetables, so I want to be very persuasive.”

    Is that not the same as force her to eat? Is either get a painfully spanking or eating. For a child or a adult a pure force to eat. Sometimes I also get something I can not eat or dislike as a adult. Spanking for not eating can also have bad long term signs later. If I get something on my plate and one say “you either eat this or you get a very painfully spanking!” what would you choose?

    Is it not strange that parents can inflict pain on purpose on children but you would not do it on your pets or your wife.

    Have you heard of Beth Fenimore? A open letter to Mr. Dobson. Her father spanked her in the name of God. She got a severe spanking. If she cried too long after a spanking then she got a new spanking for it. The list goes on. You can read that open letter by your self.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeremy

      You should get a spanking for your atrocious grammar.

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    • Hal Chaffee

      Ronnie, there are ditches on both sides of the road. I do not doubt that Ms. Fenimore was abused. I do not abuse my kids. I personally know people that are glad their parents spanked them when they were kids. I’m glad my parents spanked me. There is a difference between abuse and proper spanking.

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  • Sue

    Bravo. If you spank right you won’t need to do it. We spank with a belt (not too hard) with their clothes and underwear/diaper off. 1 to 2 swats per year of age, enough to make them really cry, and they don’t misbehave again.

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  • Ashley

    Doesn’t your daughter fight with you hold her pants/underwear so you can’t pull them down? ? Doesn’t she cover with her hands so u can’t give her anymore spanks?? The reason why I ask is cause I know a 7yr old who fights holds the waist band of his pants/underwear so his mom can’t get them down and he covers with his hands. Plus he fights till he is on his stomach laying on the floor. Is this typical just asking? ?

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    • Hal Chaffee

      Yes, it’s typical. I tell my daughter that she can move her hands or she’ll get an extra swat. This usually works for me. Of course, I’m much stronger than my daughters, so I can usually hold their hands away if I need to. My wife has a much harder time. (Kids are strong!) In the case you are speaking of, this woman might need to solicit extra help from other caring adults.

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    • Sue

      If your kid is fighting you pulling his or her pants and underwear down, there is a simple fix. Take all of their clothes completely off and spank them naked. It’s a lot easier with no clothes in the way, they don’t get their feet all tangled up and they can’t try to pull their pants back up. It also hurts more and is more embarassing when they’re naked, and it will make them think twice about resisting a spanking again.

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  • Jason G.

    Hal,

    Thanks for your great post. Our 4 year old is out of control and I feel that implementing spankings the right way is direly needed. I feel confident after reading your post and this one from Focus on the Family: http://tinyurl.com/mjllml2 However, there are other interpretations of Proverbs proclaimed by those also claiming to be Christian, who discourage spankings and cite issues with biblical linguistics, translation and interpretation: http://parentingfreedom.com/discipline/

    Unfortunately, it’s a long read. Are you familiar with these counter arguments? I need help discerning the truth. I feel like spankings administered with a Christian attitude and love is the right approach. Would love to get your feedback. Thank You!

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    • Hal Chaffee

      Hey Jason! I’ll take the time to read that post, but even without reading it I can tell you that I know a lot of people who are adults who are perfectly fine and grateful that their parents spanked them. Certainly there are abuses, and that’s a problem. But as long as you are doing it out of love and self control, then you are fine.

      I just did a poll in my youth group (I’m a youth pastor), and asked how many of them were spanked as children. All of them raised their hand. Then I asked how many of them were emotionally scarred because of it. None of them raised their hand. Then a high school senior raised his hand and said, “I was spanked as a child and because of it I now suffer with this psychological disorder called “Respect for others!”

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  • Lori Lakey

    Good grief. You don’t have to hurt your children to make them behave. You are a bully and you can quote the Bible all you want. I can’t believe you would inflict pain on your children. I never laid a hand on my child and she grew to be valedictorian of her class and graduated summa cum laude in college. She has never been in trouble in her life. Stop hurting your children. So do you hit your wife when she misbehaves? Of course not. Then why would you hit your children?

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    • Jeremy S

      Lori –

      I think it’s important to realize that all kids are unique and as such, there cannot be a singular all encompassing approach to disciplining all children.

      Your experiences with raising your daughter cannot possibly be the same experiences I have had with either of my two children. So for you to take only your experiences and make a general rule for the masses, is not realistic.

      Conversely, anyone who assumes that a literal translation of an antient text (the Bible) is qualified as a modern day parenting handbook – needs to seek guidance in the area of critical thinking.

      Again, one size does not fit all. I have diligently tried spanking my 4 year old son and have come to the conclusion that it does not work with him. I don’t doubt that spanking works with some children. It just simply doesn’t work with all children. This is why I stress the need for critical thinking. If your bible tells you only to spank, what are you to do if your child is one that needs a different aporoach?

      Use your brain parents.

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      • Lori Lakey

        I totally respect your opinion and also totally disagree. You are a very young man (Hal) and I think some people tend to think if you don’t spank your kids you are not disciplining them. There are many forms of discipline. I think when you inflict pain on your kids (as you say you hit them “hard”) you teach them that violence and aggression is the way of the world as they grow. Taking away privileges works just as well and you don’t have to physically inflict pain on anyone. It takes more time to actually talk to them and take away something they really like than to go for the spanking. A little swat on the butt is one this but hitting your kids on their bare butts (hard) is mean spirited and in my opinion a type of bullying. If you don’t do what I say I’m going to hurt you…..That is wrong in my humble and much older opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hal Chaffee

        Hi Lori. ‘Hard’ is a relative term. Maybe I should change it in my blog, but if you read on in my blog I explain what I mean by ‘hard.’ The reason I wrote ‘hard’ is because I see many parents spank their kids with a limp wristed pat, and they wonder why their kids don’t listen to them. When I say ‘hard’ I mean hard in the sense that it causes a sting that is meaningful. I explained that in my blog. I certainly do not condone child abuse.

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    • Hal Chaffee

      Hi Lori. I don’t know your circumstance, but I can see that you may be inclined to using name calling and shame to forward your positions. I hope those were not your methods of discipline. Harsh words cause a much more permanent wound than a small swat on the buttocks.
      But even so, all children are different. My wife was only spanked one time in her life (by her parents, not me!). She seemed to have ability to listen a lot more than her sisters, who needed spankings more regularly. Your one child may have been an exceptional child, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that most children need firmer boundaries. My oldest daughter very rarely needs a spanking. My younger daughter is a different story.
      As far as the Bible goes, it is my steady rock in a world that is blown back and forth by every wind. God’s word has proven to me to be a beacon of infinite wisdom, as it has for millions of others.

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  • Bill Hodgkins

    Thank you, Hal , for your original post and all the follow-ups. Most enlightening and appreciated.
    I was spanked as a child as was my sister and all my close friends and their siblings, It worked.
    I spanked my kids. It worked.
    My one child who, so far, has kids spanks her kids. It works.
    I knew I was loved, my kids know they were/are loved. My Grands sure as heck know they are loved.
    I work in a school. Its almost easy to tell which kids are/were spanked. Those are the kids who listen, the majority of the time. Those are the kids who do as they are instructed, the majority of the time. Those are the kids who privately find you and apologize to you for their poor behavior earlier in the day.
    Again, THANK YOU!

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    • Hal Chaffee

      Thanks, Bill, for your comments :)

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      • Lori Lakey

        Almost everyone I knew growing up was spanked. Also, almost everyone I knew growing up would never hit their kids. There are so many other options. Inflicting pain on a 2 year old is wrong in my opinion. Kids are capable of learning without hurting them. There are so many jobs that require discipline such as the military and the commanding officers don’t hit their troops. You said previously that your wife wasn’t spanked as a kid. I don’t understand why she would allow her children to be spanked. Did she turn out so horribly because she wasn’t spanked? My daughter got straight A’s and graduate summa cum laude from college after never being spanked. I think it’s time to learn to use other means of discipline. We need to learn and grow as people.

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  • Lori Lakey

    I’m glad the Bible is your rock. I never called my daughter names. But I did give her all the love and time she needed. The Bible is a guide in my humble opinion and I don’t think you can take everything in it literally. It has been translated many times and books have been removed. I think that kids who are spanked are really good at hiding things they have done wrong. Those that know they won’t be hit are more likely to be honest and speak freely with their parents. I don’t think you should take “spare the rod, spoil the child” literally. I think you can interpret it as “spare the discipline, spoil the child.” I think so many people think the only discipline is physically hurting children. I totally disagree. I don’t believe in hitting anything, children, animals or other adults. It’s just wrong.

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    • Jeremy S

      If you do any digging at all you can find research that shows that spanking doesn’t work and in fact causes harm.

      Even if you think your (spanked) kids turned out “fine”, you will never know what baggage you actually gave them that they will carry the rest of their lives.

      Here’s a good read on the American Psychologist Association website:

      http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/04/spanking.aspx

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  • Kenneth

    Spankings do work. They kept me in check. I work for a Fortune 500 company in the IT department. All my co workers have degrees, sizeable incomes and they all were spanked with belts. Most of the kids I grew up with were not spanked and were hellions. They are now struggling in life or in jail

    Liked by 1 person

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