On Hitting Your Kids.

If you were spanked as a kid or you spank your kids, don’t worry I’m not trying to call you evildoers or anything.  I’m tackling the subject logically. 

My sister’s boyfriend said something the other day about how spanking your kids was good and she kind of glared at him, so it’s been rolling around in my head for awhile.  I was walking my dog and thinking about it, and it reminded me of something someone had said about torture.  If you don’t know what waterboarding is btw, read my featured blog here.  Anyway, I was watching the news and there was a guy on there who was an expert on torture and interrogation, he’s one of the people who train our soldiers to resist torture methods.  And when he was asked if methods like waterboarding are so ineffective (because they generate false information, false confessions etc) then why are these torture methods used by so many regimes, and he said something that really stuck with me.  He said most people in these regimes don’t know how to really interrogate someone well, but it’s easy to just hit them.

I think it’s the same with punishing your kids.  There are better methods out there that have been developed by psychologists such as time outs, grounding etc which work well if done properly, but spanking is so common because not everyone reads Dr. Spock.  Not everyone takes the time to learn the alternatives, study child psychology, etc before having a kid.

But anyone can just hit them.


About agnophilo

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27 Responses to On Hitting Your Kids.

  1. Ro_ad808 says:

    But gasp, spanking does work; at least while they are children and you continue to rule over them with fear or  if done properly (not beating, calmly, with a loving explanation of the rationale/expectations).  Rarely though does such thought go into a spanking as you say it is so much easier to just hit the child. I need to find my sources again but this was a topic of debate when I took a Child Development class.  By far, there are certainly alternatives that are better than spanking but it is not the worst thing you could do to a child. 

  2. mhm. physical torture is just plain easier than messing with someone’s mind.

  3. randaness says:

    Hmm. I like that. (Not spanking — I like the “anyone can just hit them.”)

  4. Anonymous says:

    well in all honesty spanking is ok if done right.my parents spanked mebut im older now and respected that back then, my butt needed to be slapped at times.

  5. I admit that I will slap or pinch my two year old to get her to stop messing with things she isn’t supposed to. 2 year olds don’t really respond well to reasonable explanations, though she is getting to the age that time outs become more effective.  As soon as she starts talking more, giving me actual ability to converse with her, I plan to stop physical reminders except in extreme situations (like shes going for a fire or electrical outlet – slapping a hand away is quick and effective there).  Most of my discipline is to keep her safe and a bit to keep her from destroying our stuff (though I let her destroy her own things all she likes).  I also pinch her leg if she starts throwing a tantrum in public.  Its never used like a punishment meant to inflict pain, but a reminder to listen. Hopefully this does not make me a bad parent.

  6. Morgane says:

    Mmm, this is one of those things I’m gonna disagree with you on For a start, you can’t equate a four year old’s mental reasoning with that of an adult, so the torture equation is irrelevant.  You’re not trying to get information out of the kid, you’re trying to get it to stop doing something – or start doing something.  Let’s go with the crossing the road scenario – small child lets go of Mum’s hand, runs into oncoming traffic.  Mum catches kid, delivers slap to leg, takes him/her back to side of the road.  That slap is something that a four year old mind CAN process and associate with the act of running into the road – it’s SERIOUS because it hurts.  Four year olds don’t do great with logic, though.  You can explain to your child the dangers (and of course, you SHOULD be doing that, anyway) but if the kid keeps running into the road then a smack as a deterrent or negative association is a hell of a lot better than being hit by a freakin’ car.I’m not saying beat your kids, but a smack is a good deterrent.

  7. agnophilo says:

    @Ro_ad808 – Spanking does work, but so do a lot of things that aren’t the best way to go about things.@Chinese_Sait0u – But less effective, illegal, and fucked up.@randaness – Yeah, that was profound to me too.@bluedreamer85 – There are better ways, but whatever.@Rain_of_Mystic_Sorrow – I don’t think it does.  Just don’t overdo it.  When teachers/parents do this to older kids as the standard though it’s demented.@Morgane – I did not equate spanking with torture.  Read the blog more slowly.

  8. Ro_ad808 says:

    @agnophilo – Thanks for taking the time to reply.  Though I imagine from other places I’ve seen you around, we will often arrive at completely different conclusions; however, I respect the time and your consideration of other’s ideas.  What is life if we cannot examine it? I look forward to your next post.

  9. @agnophilo – I agree with you.  I would never purposefully inflict pain on my children.  I was so indoctrinated growing up I actually asked to be spanked when I ‘sinned.’ It is so not happening to my kids.

  10. agnophilo says:

    @Ro_ad808 – Very socratic : D@Rain_of_Mystic_Sorrow – That’s awful.  Glad you (seem to have) washed that nonsense out of your brain.No child should have a concept of sin or being bad or deserving punishment.  Ugh.

  11. I think a lot of the newer methods of child rearing (especially the whole notion that it’s evil to spank your kids – I know you did not say this, btw), is not a good step forward. When you have an unruly kid between the ages of 2-7 (and these age “limits” will vary from child to child), reasoning and the so-called psychology are not the best tools. I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time nor the patience to engage a 2 y/o (or an immature 7 y/o) in any sort of discussion. I need him/her to stop what he’s doing NOW, no questions asked, because I say so.  I know that such an MO sounds outdated, but that was the way we were raised, and we turned out ok.  As the child grows, and one notices that he is capable of understanding, then the method will change, and will lean more towards reasoning it out with them. But when my kids are little, I will not tolerate tantrums for ONE SECOND, nor disobedience or disrespect of any kind, and that’s that.  My older sister has a degree in psychology, and has worked with kids with behavioral issues. I respectfully disagree with her methods of raising children (she has 3 kids). Her oldest, 10, has turned out very good by any standards, but I still think she allows her kids too much leeway. She’s too soft, and that translates into drawn out “discussions” with a crying/whining/screaming 4 y/o (her middle child) that just turn my stomach. I would not take that shit for one second, period. 

  12. agnophilo says:

    @hecticmuse – So you hit your kids I take it?

  13. @agnophilo – Yes. I’ll say it ONCE. If the behaviour doesn’t stop  *immediately* after my verbal warning, a spank (not a “hit”) will follow. The idea is not to physically hurt them, but to startle them into obedience. An open-handed and deliberately controlled slap in the back of the thigh works wonders. Just enough to cause a bit of a momentary sting, nothing more.  I see no problem with that at all.  And btw, my gf is on the same page with me on this one. Hell, we’re on the same page on so many things it’s not even funny. But I digress…

  14. @hecticmuse – i dunno. we’re all different so there’s no one right way or wrong way to raise kids, but when i was growing up, and i threw tantrums, my mom never lost her temper and hit me, but stayed cool and reasoned it out, asking me, what right did i have to be mad? why was i mad?maaaayyyybeeee it wouldn’t work on all 4 year olds….but it tells the kid that instead of being smacked for having a fit simply because the parent can’t deal with it, the kid is being stupid and should think about what he/she is actually doing.again, this form of reasoning may not apply to every kid, because some are dumber than others.

  15. @Chinese_Sait0u –  it tells the kid that instead of being smacked for having a fit simply because the parent can’t deal with it, the kid is being stupid and should think about what he/she is actually doing.I don’t think a kid between the ages of 2-6-ish can arrive at such conclusions, unless he’s a one in a million, gifted kid.  And, I potentially *can* deal with anything a kid can throw at me by talking it through…I just don’t want to. I don’t see myself trying to make a 3 y/o see how wrong he’s behaving through words, as he screams and/or cries and whines uncontrollably.  It’s just not in me. I think little kids need to be put in their place really quick. The more you let their tantrums and hissy fits go on, the worse it gets over time, and the worse it is for me right then and there, and later.  You gotta nip it in the bud.  We will not allow tantrums.  At least, I don’t wanna hear them. If we’re at home, I’d tell my child: “You wanna throw a fit? Go to your room, but make sure…VERY sure that I don’t hear you out here.  Come back when you’re ready to behave well.”  If we’re out in public, it WILL stop within seconds. I’ll make sure of it.

  16. Morgane says:

    @agnophilo – Actually, you did draw parallels, and I read your blog just fine the first time, thanks – it read like it was written by someone who’s not spent much time around kids and definitely isn’t a parent.  The point is: there aren’t necessarily “better” or “more effective” ways of disciplining kids, whereas there are more effective and better ways (not to mention more legal ways – my Masters is in Human Rights Law) of obtaining intelligence.  I’d smack a child of my own in a heartbeat if I thought it was a deterrent to potentially dangerous behaviour.  I’d  deal out a smack to a kid of my own for temper tantrums not brought on by sheer exhaustion (because that can make the sweetest kid into a frothing, raving, rabid little psychopath).  The point is picking the appropriate response for the situation.  You claim to be tackling this logically, yet you’ve just drawn a blanket conclusion that smacking is bad, without referring to any variables (age, cause, location, past behaviour, relationship to the child, etc, etc) and without taking into consideration the fact that small children do not have the capacity to understand reason yet – they have to be taught – and in the meantime they have to learn that some things (forks in power sockets, running into the road, pulling a dog or a cat by the tail) are dangerous.  Sometimes, the best way of doing that is with a smack.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t smack a kid that wasn’t my own unless I knew damn well that the parent would do the same in that situation, and want me to, as well.  That’s not my call.  I spent four years as a professional nanny, though, and have been working in education ever since, and there is a whole generation of over-privileged, under-disciplined kids out there who could do with a good spanking or two to help them toe the line.

  17. @hecticmuse – ah…well those were just my thoughts. im not exactly a parent myself ^^; still a kid.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I agree with this. I’ve seen how physically punishing your kids can end up only pushing them further away. 

  19. rafi09 says:

    Wow, it took me a while to find your site. You seem really intelligent. :)To put in my two-cents (no matter how late it is)…I think spanking/pinching has to be monitored. I know sometimes it actually helps, like when you want the behavior to end immediately and you have a not quite so rebellious child, but a lot of parents rely on it too much. Anyone who says that talking to a 4 year old does not work obviously has never seen Nanny 9-11. Plus, if you use physical punishment (that sounds too harsh…) too often, it can have negative consequences in the long-term because I agree that it makes the child feel slightly degraded if the parent never explains that it was their actions that were bad and not them. But I think things like time-outs and groundings work better. For example: I was grounded once. Why? Besides my natural tendency to never want people mad at me, I had my things taken from me (cds, books) and I didn’t like that. I saw the same thing happening to my brother and knew that my parents would do it again if they wanted to. While most kids probably will need more than one grounding or time-out, I think it works better because kids value being able to use their possessions and need to be reminded that they are given such possessions on the basis of good behavior.

  20. agnophilo says:

    @rafi09 – Yeah, I think any form of corporal punishment should be a last resort.

  21. twosidedme says:

    I think one of my friends put it best this way… I’d rather spank and “beat” my kids myself and actually teach them what they need to know, or when they grow up not having learned those lessons, someone else will kick my kids ass.

  22. agnophilo says:

    @twosidedme – There are alternatives to hitting that are just as effective though.

  23. twosidedme says:

    @agnophilo – What you speak is ideals and for people who have the inclination to speak to kids as if they had the mental capacity of an adult.  Besides, due to my cultural upbringing, I expect a bit more out of my kids than the stereotypical American of anglo-saxon descent, or just basically someone born and raised in the states.  And unless you’re willing to state that the American way is the only way, and that my own culture is wrong… then yes spanking works for me.  I’m Filipino-American if that helps you any.

  24. agnophilo says:

    @twosidedme – I am not talking about reasoning with small children, that doesn’t work.  I’m talking about other forms of punishment, such as time-outs which are just as unpleasant for the child (who has a very short attention span and thus it is very hard for them to stare at a corner for several minutes) and which do not cause physical pain, are not seen by the child as an attack and cannot be confused with simply hitting a kid because you’re mad at them and want to hit them.You think hitting your kids is a-okay because that’s how you were raised, or how people do things in your culture.  But you have to realize people have done a lot of demented things for the same reason – slavery is acceptible to one who grows up in a culture that condones the slave trade.We have to try to think outside of the box our culture puts around our minds in order to determine if our ethics are good or if they just “seem” right because of our upbringing.And if you read my blog, you know I differ a lot with the ethics, principles and policies of my own country, and do not think one way is better because it’s the “american” way.

  25. twosidedme says:

    @agnophilo – Well then, this can be my only response to you concerning this subject then.  I have my own morales on many things, not based upon soley how I was raised, but partial of that and what I have seen and experienced in life.  And in my mind, it is ok… not as a all the time answer for punishment to a child, but as something that can be used.  And though I barely found your blog, I do enjoy reading it.  I will finish with this, I will agree to disagree with you.

  26. agnophilo says:

    @twosidedme – On this issue that’s all that can be done really.I think hitting a child out of anger is wrong, and really beating a child is wrong, though spanking or other forms of corporal punishment are sometimes acceptible, though I think they should be used as a last resort when other forms of punishment fail.

Speak yer mind.

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