Discipline: To spank or not to spank (Tip #8b)

When you picture a child receiving a spanking, what picture is in your mind? What do you see happening? Many people see abusive words, uncontrolled adult passions, and ineffective results.

In August of 2006, an article was published in Parenting magazine about spanking. It simply stated that between the ages of three and four, 94% of children receive at least one spanking. I was astounded! With all the fuss against spanking in today’s U.S. culture, it seemed to me an unbelievable statistic. But the truth is that almost all of us, at some point, spank our children.

Then I asked myself this question: Who teaches people to spank so that it does not end in abuse? So that it remains sane and beneficial?

I confess: We spanked our children often. We were taught how by caring friends and by wise advice that we found in a few good books. Today we share with you a simple procedure that will help make a spanking effective a part of your overall discipline plan. It is just one tool in your discipline toolbox. Consider this:

Prov. 6:23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light,

and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.

Commands and teaching go with corrections and punishments. They lead to life.

Words alone don’t get it done.

Punishments alone don’t get it done.

Together corrections and conversations bring life.

First, know why you spank and it will help keep you from abuse. Dennis and Barbara Rainey used Proverbs 6:16-19 as their list of reasons to spank. Look it up, discuss it, and agree about your own reasons as parents in your home. Knowing why will help you align your reasons with God’s reasons. The Bible does not come out and say “this is when to spank”.

It does give principles. Learn to apply the principles in real time and real life.

Next, use a procedure that keeps you consistent and controlled. Here is our procedure in an acronym.

SSeparation: Remove your child from the situation. Guard his/her privacy and dignity because your child was made in God’s image. Do not spank him in front of others. Keep it private.

P—Principle: Some principle of right behavior was broken.When you are alone, ask a factual question: What did you do wrong? What did I say to you? What did I tell you to do? You are asking for a confession. You may have to explain it to him if he does not get it. Explanation is important because it makes the spanking have a goal; it makes it effective and purposeful to the child. This is critical, for the spanking is a small part of the whole process. Patricia and I made an intentional effort to use the scripture to explain the principle. (Note: As they grow in their understanding, this is a good place to explain that we are all sinners and that Jesus died for our sins.)

A—Action: Get them into position and teach them to receive correction. All of our lives we are under authority. Teach them to bend over and yield to it. Have them lean over the bed, hold their hands out, pull the shorts down and spank on the briefs. Get them to bend over to get a good target. Get to thin material. You may hold them in your lap.

The best tool we used was a 3/8 in. dowel cut to 18 inches in length. You can purchase one at a hardware store. It is flexible, like an old-fashioned switch. Use something that is neutral. Not your hand. The flexibility in the dowel does no harm, but it does sting. It gets their attention. In addition, the time it takes you to get the tool helps you cool down and be under control. You hand is too “handy.”

Am I hitting too hard? Take time to pop yourself so that you know about how hard to hit. Walking through this process is not a spur of the moment reaction. The process raises the significance of the moment. Get their attention. ONE GOOD POP. You get their attention. (Note: Don’t tell them one pop, just get in a good pop.)

N—kNeel: Kneel and pray. Often the child will repent immediately. They will say, “I’m sorry.” At that moment the punishment is over. Then take time to hug them, to pray with them. Have them pray. Again, this may be a good time to explain how Jesus died for our sins. Lead them to ask for forgiveness from God and from anyone they may have offended.

K—Kiss: Most of the time, your child will want to know that he is forgiven. The comforting time is critical after the spanking. You may need to take the child back to the situation. Recreate the moment and renew the command. He has opportunity to obey and now you may comfort him joyfully. By “kiss” we mean that you must let him know that the relationship is restored and the punishment is over.

Remember: A spanking is a small part of the training process. It is not a cure-all. If you keep it in this type of context, you will see it become effective for you and your child.

Note: We understand that there are many variables in the above guidelines. We urge you to prayerfully seek how to adapt this within your family, whenever you decide to pull the spanking tool out of your discipline toolbox.

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