The Eight P’s of Parenting (Part 5)

The Eight P’s of Parenting (Part 5)

In the last bulletin we saw the need for parents to lovingly punish their children for wrongdoing. From time to time in a young child’s life, discipline will require spanking.

God tells us that corporal punishment is helpful and necessary. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”

Some pop-psychologists say differently, that spanking doesn’t work, that spanking teaches kids to hit, even that spanking is sexual abuse. Laws in a few California municipalities and several European countries criminalize spanking. Thankfully Florida is different—see state statutes, Title V, Ch. 39, which says in part, “Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.”

Here are a few lines from Dr. Spock’s book Baby and Child Care, 1985 editions and later: “Physical punishment plays a role in our acceptance of violence. If we are ever to turn toward a kindlier society and a safer world, a revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good place to start” (p. 173). “It teaches children that might makes right, it encourages some children to be bullies, and most fundamentally, to the degree that it results in good behavior, it’s because of the fear of pain. I have a strong belief that the best reason for behaving well is that you like people, want to get along with them, want them to like you” (p. 173). “A teacher who uses physical punishment or sends a student to the principal for punishment has failed and has given up, in my estimation” (p. 251). These words are so misguided and naïve I don’t even know where to start. I imagine Dr. Spock’s children ignoring his verbal appeals, and snatching the TV remote and the car keys from his hand!

God, the perfect parent, says that corporal punishment is effective; parents who do it the right way will assure you it is effective. Proverbs 23:13-14 says, “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol.”

Here are some quick pointers for those with young children:


  • While righteous anger indicates there is an issue needing to be addressed, we must be careful not to spank in a rage. Spanking should not be a way for you to vent your anger, but rather a way to deliberately, intentionally communicate discipline to your child. Do not abuse!

  • Even the youngest of children can learn from a very gentle pop on the hand. Often, that little pain signal accompanied by a firm “No!” is the only thing that gets through.

  • As children get a little older, spanking should be accompanied by a lecture as to why the spanking is being given. Dr. Dobson says, “Two or three stinging strokes on the legs or butt with a switch are sufficient to emphasize the point ‘you will obey me.’ ” An open hand, a wooden spoon, or other very light objects that don’t cause marks, welts, or bruises work fine too.

  • Spanking should be done on bare skin. To spank a child hard enough to feel pain through a diaper requires enough force to thrash his poor little body around. Dr. Dobson says, “Pain is a marvelous purifier. It is not necessary to beat a child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry.”

  • Spank early and consistently, and you’ll find yourself doing it less and less and then not at all. Skip this whole rigamarole: “Come here. If you don’t come here, I’m going to get mad. [Raises voice] Come here right now! I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t come here, you’re going to get a spanking! One... Two... I mean it... [Walks over and picks up child and goes on with day.]” If you teach your kids by example that you aren’t going to spank until you go through six degrees of escalation, they will not obey you until you get through the first five. So, insist that your instructions be followed the first time—willingly, obediently, without begging or pleading or bargaining.

    --John Guzzetta

  • Within reason (we’re not talking about poisons or expensive china, here) don’t baby proof your house; rather house proof your baby.

  • Spanking should be followed up by a period of reconciliation.

  • Older children should not be spanked. Other methods of punishment should be

    used, including grounding, taking away phone privileges, extra chores, etc.