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January 5th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

To Spank or Not to Spank?

spanking1On two of our shows this week, we have what I think, is an intelligent and thought-provoking debate about an age-old question: To spank or not to spank. Big question, and one that the answer to can have a profound and lasting impact on your child. I have seen surveys that tend to be split, with about half of parents believing if you spare the rod, you spoil the child, and the other half saying no way does it make sense to hit your kid.

Not one to waffle around on issues, I won’t hesitate to weigh in with my opinion: I believe spanking genuinely confuses children. I believe they think to themselves something like, ”OK, let me get this right. You are supposed to love me, nurture me and protect me from harm, and now you are standing there, five times my size, and hitting me and inflicting physical pain? Hmmm … I don’t get it.”

Will spanking suppress behavior in the short term? Yes. Does it teach a lesson that can be internalized and used later in the form of self-discipline? I don’t think so, and even if it does, it’s highly inefficient compared to other options. And is it really wise to teach children that hitting is OK?

I got spanked once, and I am still mad about it! HA! In the sixth grade, I snuck off to swim in a pond about 10 miles from our house in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. No supervision and lucky someone didn’t drown! When asked about it, I started to lie and deny doing it. Even though I was young, and based on my choices at the time, pretty stupid, I quickly realized, mid-lie, that I was standing there with bloodshot eyes and a good case of swimmer’s ear. It wouldn’t have taken MacGyver to figure out what I’d been doing, so I just ‘fessed up — not because it was the right thing, but because I was busted, and I knew it.

new spankingMy father spanked me with a belt for sneaking off and swimming without supervision in an uncharted pond. Five minutes later, he came in and gave me a dollar to reward my decision to tell the truth. Now, a dollar to a poor kid circa 1961 was a lot of money, but let me tell you, I stood there and ripped that dollar bill into a million pieces so tiny you couldn’t even almost tell what it used to be! I “got” the stupidity of what I had done and didn’t need to be hit to solidify that knowledge. It wasn’t the physical pain, because honestly, it was a pretty wimpy and half-hearted whuppin’. It was the indignity of it and the sense of betrayal I felt. If anything, it made me feel righteous, defiant and rebellious (please hear chants of “ATTICA! ATTICA!” building in the background. HA!) I felt the relationship I thought we had was now, in my opinion, violated, which to my 12-year-old brain meant I owed him nothing going forward. It was every man for himself! (Sooo, I have the bias of personal experience, but I confessed it, so don’t hit me!)

On this week’s shows, however, I have some guests who strongly disagree with my opinions, as I bet many of you do. They insist that an occasional swat across the behind or even a good spanking is not anything close to a physical beating, and that it does indeed teach respect. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t stop with the swat or controlled spanking and can go too far.

So what do you think? Do you think you can get results with physical punishment? Does fear work, or does it backfire?

I’d like to hear all of your stories. Have you ever spanked your child? Do you think a teacher or school administrator has the right to paddle your child for misbehaving? What about a babysitter? And what methods of discipline would you use instead of spanking?

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712 Responses to “To Spank or Not to Spank?”

  1. Ann says:

    Dr. Phil:
    My two children who are now adults ages 25 and 27, were not spanked except as a last resort. The punishment went like this: 3 strikes and you’re out. First strike: My husband or I would talk to the child and try to point out what they had done wrong. Then something that they loved was taken away for a period of time. Second strike: If the child did the same thing again, something that they wanted to do was taken away. Third strike: If the child, ignoring Strike one and Strike two, once again did the same thing, they were spanked, but just hard enough to hurt their pride. Believe me, Dr. Phil, my children were never abused, and we tried to have them come away with their pride and respect for us intact.

  2. nancy says:

    I was spanked, hit, attacked by my parents sometimes both of them were hitting me at the same time. My grades in school were horrible, and everytime when a test result came back, I got hit. When my parents hit me like that. I could not even think. I was numb. I just simply learned that the two people out of this whole world that are most important to me hurted me and frightened me all the time, and to me there was no reason for it. I just did not do well in school. Instead of helping me with school work, they hitted me. From around 8 years old on, I tried to distant myself from my parents. I was glad that my father die, and am most comfortable when my mother is not in my sight. I had no relatonship with them and still does not have a normal relationship with my mom. But I still feel angry from those hitting. My grades in school had never gotten any better. I think hitting a child is a good way of raising a child to be an angry adult. I am for one.

  3. Dee says:

    I have two childred 27 girl and 20 boy. I don’t believe in spanking. I believe that people who spank their child as just lazy. It is easier to spank and get it over with. If you put a child in time out this sometimes means getting up 2 or 3 times to put them back. What these people don’t understand that it will work it just sometimes takes longer. Or as Dr. Phil says find there currency. I have a 5 year old grandson with Down’s. His currency is movies. If you tell him he will have a time out and no movie he usually gets with the program. My son was never grounded. He did at 16 come home at 1:30 am. He ask me what time he should be home, my responds was, before 1:30. He never did it again and if he wasn’t home by 11:00 he gave me a call. He now 20 and he doesn’t come home he leaves me a message on my phone. “Won’t be home see you tommorow, I am at (so & so house if you need me call use my cell). There are just different ways to deal with children remember they are not all the same and therefore cannot be treated the same know your child and then work with them as they grow up. You would never hit a person you work with who didn’t do exactly what you wanted you would be fired and land up in jail. Why does anyone think that assaulted a child if any diffferent. Dee

  4. Meredith says:

    Dr. Phil, I teach a Parenting Skills elective to teenagers. What can I say to convince them hitting is not a good idea, especially when doing so would make them feel disloyal to their own parents?

  5. Guy Farmer says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I appreciate your perspective on spanking. I tend to think in terms of trusting our children to understand the difference between right and wrong. Most kids will understand (like you did) when they’ve done something wrong. I might have brief conversation with the child about what they think happened and what they wish to do about it. The idea is to put it in the child’s court so that they internalize the lesson and understand for themselves what the limits and boundaries are.

    We get to choose what behaviors we model for our kids. We can set an example where people talk about issues or some other option. I’ve noticed that learning how to talk about things makes kids and adults happier and more balanced than other approaches. My guess would be that people just feel better when they actually resolve things in a way where everyone benefits.

  6. Connie says:

    I have a 7yr old daughter who has been driving me crazy since she’s been on her summer break for 2 months. Sadly..I am looking forward to her going back to school next Tues, and it really makes me sad that we did not get to enjoy our summer together that much. She does not listen to me, and will call me stupid, or tell me to shut up. It seems like I just ground her all the time, I don’t really spank, but will swat her butt occasionally, and she laughs! Yes.. she does have a dad, and believe me she listens to him and is a whole different little angel around him. He doesn’t have to spank her now, although he did once or twice when she was little, and that must have worked. She’s strives to get his approval but cares less for mine. Again I feel taking things away does not really help. Any suggestions? I don’t want a teenager controlling me.

  7. Mike says:

    Spanking can be used as a last option especially when your child or children blow you off and feel they can just talk/laugh their way out of it. The severity of a spanking is determined by the child, each child has a different spanking threshold and that threshold can be determined easily by the parent to be effective for that specific child. Remember, the difference between spanking and an actual beating can be a fine line but a good parent knows the difference. In general, today the children/teens just do not respect adults. I always believed ever since the TV show Beverly Hills 90210 was shown it clearly indicated the parents have little to no role in their childrens lives and the children do as they please, this is when it really got worse. An entire generation of children have adopted that role as being acceptable. Most of the Generation before us and before them were spanked, the most admired generation of our time and they will be the first to tell you that a good whuppin made the difference and they knew why.

  8. Shannon says:

    I don’t belive in beating your children, but I do believe that spanking is ok. Spanking does not have to be all the time. Just look at the kids today……they are very disrespectful, rude, and just down right mean!! I was afraid of getting in trouble and I can’t ever remember my mom spanking me. I give my kids all the love and attention that I possibly can and they are not afraid of me because I have spanked them. I to this day put my 11 and 13 yr old in the corner if they lie, talk back or just won’t stop fighting. Spanking isn’t bad, BEATING YOUR CHILDREN IS!!!! People need to learn the difference and maybe the kids these days would be better behaved!

  9. Shannon says:

    Have you tried taking things away from her as punishment? Everytime she calls you stupid or tells you to shut up take something she loves away until she can respect you. My kids have to earn their “loved items” back a little at a time. That has worked for my kids.

  10. jennifer says:

    I work in the public school system. I see the behavior that comes from children ages 10-14. The discipline that is used at our school is ineffective-except to a handful of kids- I see the same children come in week after week, sometimes day after day and they get a detention or a lunch detention (meaning that they come to the office to eat alone). How effective is that!!

    When i went to school, if students would have done 1/2 the stuff they do now, they would have been paddled and usually the inappropriate behavior would stop! I know that alot of the problem is that when a student takes the detention slip home to be signed, some parents never sign it or they call to stand up for their kids so they get out of it! parents rights have been taken away.
    I know alot of the problems of today would not be a problem if adults would be allowed to go “old school” on these kids!! I was spanked as a child, not beaten, but spanked. I knew if i did something what would happen, so it stopped me from doing alot.
    People need to see the future generations and see what bad behaviors they have….it will only get worse with every generation!! Look at how we grew up (i am 40) and how much violence and inappropriate behavior was dispayed-our parents must have done something right!! Learn from the past.

    Corporal punishment should be back in school….and then let the researchers do their work to see how much violence, teen pregnancy, etc there is.

  11. Antoinette says:

    Yes. I believe in corporal punishment. The bible says, “Spare the rod. Spoil the child Rear a child in the way they should go and they shall never part from it.”

    Both punishment and spanking was apart of home discipline when I was growing up. No, I did not like getting spanked as a child, but it sure made me think twice when it came to choosing right or wrong. I knew the consequence of making the wrong choice and stayed out of a lot of trouble. I used to tell my friends, “I don’t have peer pressure. I have daddy pressure.” As an adult, I have great appreciation for how I was raised and know that my parents way of parenting and strictness is why I am who and what I am today. There was never doubt in my mind if my parents loved me. I knew they loved me and that their discipline was an expression of love. I wanted for nothing and had the best of everything. I guess you can say it worked for me, so it should be good enough for my kids. I can say the spankings decreased as I got older (I was punished more as a teenager). But, I had remembrances of what a warm behind felt like as a child and I did what I was told. I wasn’t perfect, but the major mistakes that kids make -drugs, underage drinking, sneaking out of the house, being in places I knew I wasn’t to be, being blatantly disrespectful, and just basically given in to peer pressure- when they have no discipline/direction from their parents, I did not make.

    With that said, not all children need to be spanked. Some kids respond well to “time outs” or negative/positive reinforcemen. Others do not. Some need to be spanked. Some behaviors are time out worthy and some are spanking worthy.

    Funny thing is that society frowns upon parents who have unruly kids, but punish the parents who keep their kids in line with spanking. If spanking is what keeps my kids out of trouble, out of jail, then that is what I will use. Actually, I use a combination of the two and as my children have gotten older, and they know what is expected out of them, I no longer have to spank.

    In my opinion, there is a grave difference between spanking and abuse.

  12. camilla says:

    I was spanked as a child, my daughter was spanked, and she spanked her
    two kids. All the spankings were done as a last resort and done mainly to
    get the child’s attention when nothing else did. It did not confuse me or
    my daughter or my grandkids. All of us have grown up to be good, loving
    parents and I felt that it did give me an ability to have self discipline as
    an adult. I believe the line between spanking and abuse has been eliminated
    by the people who are extremists in their views. I spanked with an open
    hand on a clothed butt. It seems that now people view all spanking as
    abuse. No, it isn’t. When you beat a child with a belt, paddle, etc, that
    is beating, not spanking and I consider that abuse. There is a definite
    difference between the two. When I was in school (1950’s) we were
    disciplined for wrongdoing and we knew we would get it at home too, as
    our parents supported the school and teachers. Imagine that! We learned
    to respect our elders and eachother. I noticed the difference when I
    visited my daughter’s class. Very few of the kids were listening to the
    teacher. Rather they were talking to eachother, lying all over the desks,
    or sleeping! The teacher did nothing to correct the situation. I feel we
    reap what we sow, and we have several generations of kids today who
    will try to be as disrespectful as they can, because they can. These are
    the leaders of tomorrow, and they will pass on their values to their kids too.
    When kids know they can get away with something because the teachers
    can’t discipline them or they threaten to call the police if there parents
    try to spank them, they are learning that bad behavior pays off. Try
    others ways first, but if the child doesn’t take you seriously, then a
    spanking, not beating, is in order.

  13. Tonya Perkins says:

    I am a pediatric mental health nurse and I have seen the problems that spanking can cause. I do not using spanking even though I grew up with spanking. I have a three, four, and nine year old. My husband does not share my opinion and it is a frequent area for arguing. My husnabd says the reason my child do not listen to me as well as they do him is because he spanks and I do not. I prefer talking about the behaviors and taking away things.

  14. Jamie says:

    My husband and I have three children. We do not spank our children who are now age 10 and two teenagers. I am not against spanking, to some degree. Meaning if a parent wants to spank and does so without anger and harm to the child then fine. I just don’t spank mine. Not because we decided not to, but because I have never needed to. No, I don’t have golden children that never do any wrong. I started out when they were young at the timeout and taking away things they liked. When they became old enough to do chores I made them work for there items back. They so far have never done anything major that has required losing an item for more than a weekend. I send a note to the school each year telling the school that they are not to use spanking on my children. I live in a rural area in the ozarks where many kids are spanked, so the staff at the school see me as “One of those parents” and view me as a parent spoiling my children.
    I was spanked as a child by both parents. I recall one or two spankings that I still feel should not have happened. Not, because they were beatings, but because I was not at fault. (I had many siblings). I can tell you I know I was spanked often and my parents faught, but because they were few and there was so many days that were full of joy in our home I have a hard time recalling the bad and ugly.
    No, I don’t believe parents need to spank children. Children can get the message and feel the shame of what they have done without hitting and belittleing.

  15. Melody says:

    To spank or not to spank, that is the question >>>
    The only time I spank is if my child is doing something that could eventually harm her! I think you should never spank out of anger but out of love and saftey of your child. If my daughter has her fingers in the outlet (dangerous) i will spank her to associate “fingers in plug spank in the Butt”, and hopefully she wont try to do it when Im not around. We dont want to confuse our children and teach them to be angry and lose our temper like parents do when they spank! We need to spend time teaching and showing good manners, by being good role models. My father never spanked and I love him because of that, I know he always has my back. Now my mother spanked me as a teen when she cought me experimenting with drugs! And i Always thought twice about doing it because i was afraid. But she was protecting me from harmfull things.

  16. hollister pry says:

    i am a mother of 4 children. my children consist of the ages of 11 6 2 and 2. i was beat as a child from the age of 5 to 8 years old. my 11 year old son is out of control. i have tried spanking him grounding him really anything you can think of. he has also been to juvnile court for unruliness. so what are you suppose to do when you run out of options.

  17. hollister pry says:

    as for the teacher or schoo; administration spanking my child….i have no problem with that. i was spanked in school as a child. that’s what is wrong with kids these days the school system has put in the childrens’ head that if your parent hits you then call the police and report it. to me there is a different from beating your kid and correcting your kid. while i was growing up i never talked to my parents or grand parents like kids do these days. because if i did i would get a spankning for it. so therefore i have now problem with spanking.

  18. Gail says:

    Based on the comments on this blog, spanking is obviously controversial because adults have had their own personal experience with spanking and it was either an effective discipline tool for them or it was humiliating and made them angry. I’m wondering if the effectiveness of spanking has to do with the parent/child relationship and what is going on in that relationship. Is the adult spanking out of anger and frustration, the need for power and control or is it truly done in love and to correct behaviour? I also wonder if the effectiveness of spanking also has to do with the personality and the developing self-esteem of the child. I was sensitive as a kid and my mother said she barely had to raise her voice and I changed my behaviour while my brother had a thicker skin and a more defiant streak in his personality. I was never spanked, but I can imagine that if I was, even though it would be out of love and correction, I may not have seen it that way.

    It’s apparent to me that the effectiveness of spanking is in the eye of the “one spanked”. So, as parents, is it possible that we are taking a gamble when we spank? We won’t know until our kids are grown up what “lessons” we truly taught with spanking. Are we also taking a gamble on our relationship with our children and how our children see us when we spank them? Children do need to be disciplined in a consistent, timely and structured manner and typically kids respond to other forms of discpline besides spanking so I’d say give the other options a fair try before taking the gamble.

  19. English says:

    Do kids today behave the way they do because they aren’t spanked at home or school? OR is it because there is none or little discipline in the home environment? Or is also because positive/negative reinforcements or punishments are not carried out correctly?

    I know as a parent and from working with children in my career how frustrating behavior management/modification can be. There have been times when my emotions really tempt me and tell me a swat will fix it.

    But When we step back and look at what spanking is, we see someone striking a smaller person. Children model our behavior. I think spanking models aggressive behavior as a way to resolve conflict. It may also teach them that it’s okay for bigger people to hit littler people when they are or aren’t doing something you don’t want or want them to do. As adults we don’t spank or hit our own peers when they disagree or perform behaviors we don’t agree with. Spanking is meant to hurt to be affective isn’t it? So the fine line isn’t if it hurts or not, it’s if it leaves marks? Even if spanking doesn’t leave marks, it still hurts and that pain is what teaches the child the aggressive behavior.

    I’ve heard it said that spanking will make children respect us more and know that the parents are the authority. It may stop the behavior temporarily to spank, but children end up doing or not doing things out of FEAR rather than because they want to do GOOD. Growing up I was extremely afraid of my dad when he would yell. And that’s not even spanking. It was hard to work up to talking to him again, even over long periods of time. They also might initially stop the behavior when spanked, but then not learn the lesson and just avoid doing whatever it is while that person is not around. It may even cause the child to become even more upset and rebel even more. That is something I would do when I was yelled at. I spanked my son once on the hand. It didn’t do anything to teach him, just made him cry. I’ve never spanked since then and the techniques that I’ve learned from various resources have established authority and also taught the natural consequences of the situation much more successfully. I enjoy watching SuperNanny’s show. She’s never used shouting or spanking and has successfully taught parents appropriate techniques for each individual situation. Not only do I not agree with spanking, but it’s just not necessary when there are so many other more successful ways to achieve appropriate behavior. We need to learn to carry out the techniques properly to minimize frustrations and parents resorting to spanking. There are many resources for learning. Not saying it’s easy but I think it will bring about more positive results.

    I also think it’s important that we learn to regret our mistakes but without having to be humiliated. I think spanking is humiliating. I think we can learn to make correct decisions without being humiliated.

    I think one big reason children rebel and disrespect people is because they feel they are not being understood. For example, my 3 yr old son was refusing to brush his teeth or put toothpaste on his toothbrush. He was screaming that he didn’t want to and didn’t want toothpaste. So I thought to myself, “why am I trying to get him to do this? Oh yeah, to be healthy!” and “What does he want to be doing right now?” So I said something along the lines of, “I’m know you probably would rather be playing with your toys right now b/c they are a lot of fun. But brushing teeth keeps our teeth from getting sick and getting cavities”. That made sense to him and he gladly hopped on his stool, applied toothpaste and brushed his teeth b/c he wanted to do good and not because he was afraid of timeout. Granted, this exact phrase will not work the same with every child but each parent can find some way of having the child feel understood and this can limit how much we have to use some sort of punishment.

    I read the Bible myself, but I don’t think the “rod” has to be a literal rod to be effective discipline.

  20. Tom says:

    If Adult A is rude to Adult B, does Adult B have the right to spank Adult A?

  21. lisa says:

    My daughter was mouthing off with a bad attitude. I told her she was grounded & to give me her cell phone. She then kicked me. My husband spanked her for kicking me. She left the house, went to the neighbors & told them we beat her. They called the police. The police told her that in texas a parent has the right to spank a child & if she kicks her parents again it is family violence & she will be sent to juvenile detention. We are not trashy people. We have two older children that are also flabergasted by her behavior. Just waiting for CPS to show up. No idea what to do.

  22. a g says:

    forgive me for going here,but this is in many ways a blue state red state divide issue. i commend dr. phil for being a red state origin guy,who see’s a blue state choice here. if you have to hit your kids,then something has been lost in translation. i’m not saying that all who hit their kids are bad. i am saying that there are better choices today. nor does not striking children,in and of itself make one a good parent. we need to look at ourselves,as parents very closely.

  23. Carla Knight says:

    I believe in spanking. According to the Bible it tells you to use like a belt, switch or something of that nature to spank a child and not your hands. You use your hands for loving your child. I believe in this. My kids know this as well. I only spank my kids as a last resort. My kids do not get spanked that much. My Son gets it more so than my daughter. My Son is 15 years old and has a very bad temper and I mainly try to speak with him before I spank him. I try the talking and see how that works. My Son has a very good heart and never would hurt anyone but he just has that temper against me sometimes and lets his mouth get out of hand. He will apologize to me and I let it go. Sometimes he has a tendancy to hurt his little sister who is only 9 years old when he says he is just playing but she ends up with marks on her. Now according to what happend, I will sometimes spank my son for that reason. It has to be really bad though before I spank my son or my daughter. I love my kids and I want them to live a wonderful life. I want them to know that you can’t always get what you want in life. They get mad and call me a mean mother when I don’t get them what they want or they pout or start slamming things or kicking things or something to that affect. I will admit, I go off the deep end and sometimes I start yelling at them. I will catch myself and apologize to them but let them know, they can’t have everything they want. I was laid off in January of 2010 and every dime my Husband makes just pays the bills. We don’t always have extra spending money. Extra money goes towards groceries and gas for the vehicles. I do receive unemployment but it is nothing to brag on but it is better than nothing at all. There are a lot of issues in my life and I feel bad for my kids a lot but I will not discuss them on here because I do not want my Husband seeing this. My Husband has had a hard life growing up and has a lot of anger built up inside of him and he treats our Son differently than I do. He fuses at me because he says I baby our Son and I know I do to a certain extent because of the way he treats my Son. Our Daughter doesn’t get spoken to or treated this way. I love my Husband dearly and he is a good father, he just has a lot of anger issues and can not let go of the past. He will throw the past in our faces in a blink of an eye. Anyways, I have gotten off of the subject. I just don’t have anyone to talk to and once I get started I can’t stop. Thanks for listening to me! I do believe in spanking though. Not for every little thing but there are sometimes my kids need it. They can probably count on one hand as to how many times I have spanked them. It tears my heart out of my chest but I know it has to be done for them to understand how serious the problem is.

  24. Pamela says:

    Spanking is never positive. It only teaches aggression! It is the lazy way out. I have a 4,7, & 8 year old that are never ever hit. The word ’spank’, is just as aggressive as the word ‘hit’ or ‘beat’! It never helps. Hitting damages children in every way possible!

  25. Mom of 3 Boys says:

    I can count on one hand the number of times I have spanked my sons. It is only an absolute last resort if they have continued to engage in dangerous behaviors. They can tell you why and when they have been spanked, because it was only used as HUGE wake up call. Example, when my now 9 year old son decided at age 2 he wanted to continually run into the street and would not stop, he was spanked and he never ran into the street again. I have never physically displined my children while angery.

  26. Mary says:

    I think spanking should be used ONLY as a last resort. My mom says when I was little she spanked me, and she felt bad about having to do it. I have absolutely no memory of her ever having done so–so she apparently didn’t have to do it very often–I imagine when I was little, I was a real handful. Anyway, my point is, parents should use spanking only when all the other things they’ve tried have failed. Also, if a parent is always angry with their child–like this mom on the episode today–they should try to figure out what the child is doing that is making them so angry, give themselves a “timeout”, and deal with the child then–even if it means asking someone to come watch the child even just for a few minutes rather than sticking the child in the shower or making the child drink hot sauce…OMG, what a terrible image that forms in one’s mind.

  27. Shirley Bates says:

    I think spanking should only be done when you have tried other forms of discipline first, it should never be out of anger or aggression. I have found with my own daughters that I have not had to spank them since they were about 5-6 yrs old. Now that their cognative development is greater I find time-outs, grounding, loosing privleges to be more effective for of discipline. I always state my expectations and what the consequences will be before an event. When unexpected behavior happens I try to explain what was improper and ask them to help search for other solutions than the one they chose

  28. lc says:

    Wow, I am really shocked at how many parents believe that to spank a child is a justifiable decision. I myself am 18 years old, and I for sure remember being punished by spanking as a child. It was never harsh or out of anger but wow did I ever resent my mother for it. It made me feel like I should not be treated like a respected human being, it made me realize how small I really was, how more angry I felt and how I resented my mother for it. I didn’t focus on what I had done wrong because I was focusing on what my mother was doing wrong by hurting me. I still remember being punished and resent my mothers actions UNTIL THIS DAY. What adult wants to feel belittled? children MUST in some form feel the same as an adult would feel being hit. No matter how small, they are human beings too.

  29. Jodie says:

    Spanking/yelling are reactive behaviors. The parent has lost control of the situation and is exhibiting a reactive response. Spanking does identify what the child is attempting to communicate through his or her behavior. Children with special needs may be even less capable of communicating their needs and frustrations and will “act out” as a means of expressing themselves. Parents and teachers should be proactive in addressing challenging behaviors, especially if they endanger others. Determining the function of the behavior by establishing a pattern will help identify what the child is trying to communicate. When you understand what events lead up to the challenging behavior you can intervene BEFORE it occurs. It’s too late to correct the behavior and teach a replacement behavior once it has occurred.

  30. Marinda Harpole says:

    I was spanked as a child, my parents jokes that they didn’t it enough. I do believe in spanking to a point. When a child is bad, I believe in given them a swat on the bottom, when you are not at your angriest. For instance I had a brother that believed in given his kids spankings and another brother that didn’t. They were both were our at my mom’s house, where I lived. They got into my car and started messing with tennis balls and raquet balls. I was upset, and they lied about. One brother didn’t do anything about. The other one, even though he didn’t spank him, he did give his two sons a good talking too. But there would’ve have been times he would’ve spanked him. But my other brother would never spank his kids for nothing. Even when they steal and lie about it.

  31. Maureen says:

    I am a person that as a child I was spanked and it made me fearfull of my parents and anyone in authority,older than me and as I got older an angry person tried to come out but I went to a medical profestional and find out there was a medical diognosis and I have done what was reccommended and I can say that I feel better today than I did years ago. I believe that spanking leaves permanent scars on people just like being in a abusive relationships because 90% of those of us who were spanked look for abusers as it being normal and that is the only thing they know so anyone who wants to be your friend or have a loving relationship you automatically put up a wall and it may take years to take it down and people loose out on this because it takes a very patient person like my husband and his family to show me that there are good people out in the world and I was able to trust again. We have our 28th wedding aniversary comming up on November 26th and we have never hit our 4 children when they were small. they are now adults and have children of their own and they don’t believe in spanking either. they believe it is child abuse and no child should have to live like that.

  32. Debra Roller says:

    About the spanking, I am 43 Years old, I have three kids. 21, 17, & 12 Boy girl boy. I beleive in spanking because even the bible says spare the rod and spoil the child. and the bible wasnt refering to how many things they have, The kids today as a society will look at you while you tell them no and do it anyway., from birth on up to adulthood., There is no consequences for kids now days. Just being good isnt good enough, they want to be good if you pay them, or allow them to run the streets, or what ever, they dont want to be good because its the right thing to do. I DO think that spanking is a last resort. or for severe hiccups that could cost a life. My favorite thing is to make them mow the yard with the push mower or weed eat all 6 acres of tree’s, and I tell them, while they are there, since its a simple task, they have alot of time to think about what they have done.

  33. Cindy says:

    Watching “Mommy Confessions” and disgusted. This is simple abuse. Someone needs to contact CFS immediately. I was whipped, beaten, force fed as a child and all it taught me was to distrust everyone. This little boy is being set up to have a very hard road ahead of him. He will be angry, acting out and trusting no one if this is allowed to continue. He will eventually hit bopack or leave. I did both. My life turned out good but it took yrs of therapy. This little boy might not find that path.
    I have a theory..the angrier you are, the angrier you are, it’s like an addictive drug almost. You have to stop.

  34. Ivy says:

    I am 32 years old and I could honestly say that I and my 4 siblings were spanked. But my parents’ spanking was their last resort. But looking at children and most of the teens right now, I am so thankful that my parents included spanking as part of their discipline. But everything did not end there. They talk always, always, talked to us and explained why they spanked us. My parents knew the limit of spanking, they did not spank us to the point of bruising us. I always believe in “spare the rod and spoil the child”, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying”, and “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” It’s easier to train a person while he is young. But of course DO EVERYTHING OUT OF LOVE.”

  35. Connie says:
    I do not think spanking is necessary..
    Our oldest son was very strong willed and I had a minister tell me that I needed
    to spank him until he was begging for his life. THANK GOODNESS, I had better sense than to do that. I did spank him though. I would tell him to go in his room
    and I would be there later (this way I was not doing this in anger at all) and we decided on the number of pops on the behind
    (with all clothes on – not on bare skin) we were going to get (5 was the highest).
    If I had it to do over I don’t think I would do this. I think it was belittleing him.
    All three of our sons are fine young christian men so we are blessed. Too bad
    you don’t have all the answers going into parenthood.

  36. Amy says:

    Spanking is never okay. I was spanked as a kid as were all my brothers and sisters. The problem with spanking is that it is never done in a controlled manner. How can it be? You’re hitting someone! Whether or not a child is spanked has more to do with how frustrated the parent happens to be than what the child actually did. The only thing I learned was that I was insignificant. That I didn’t have a voice and was powerless to stop someone bigger and stronger than me from hitting me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what we’re supposed to teach our children NOT to do. Parents that spank are bullies in my opinion. There are other ways to teach children right from wrong – they take time and patience, but they are much more effective. It is so easy to lose control – why put yourself in a situation where you could lose control on your children. My children count on me to protect them – it is the responsibility I take most seriously in my life and I won’t ever allow them to feel powerless or insignificant.

  37. Rosemary says:

    Hi Dr.Phil,
    My husband and I watch your show almost everyday and enjoy the messages you send to your viewers. I have to say that as a woman of God/ Jesus Christ, I am almost speechless to you not agreeing with spankings because you to are a man of God, its in the Bible. As my own personal opinion you feel the way you do about spankings because you were not brought up that way. If you go 12 years without one and one day you get a spanking of course you would feel the way that you do. When your children are young you should provide them with a system (3 strikes then spanking its ours) and never spank out of anger and always talk them afterwards, showing and telling them you love them and make sure they understand why they are getting a spanking This way they know what to expect and know whats right and wrong. I do believe in instilling a little fear in your children because along with that comes respect. I have 5 children and I know what spanking can do and I also know what it does to your children when you don’t spank. with my youngest I decided to not spank until recently and he is the only one that acts out, tells me no and hits. With my other 4 children they are some of the most well behaved children you will ever meet. With the spankings they get alot of love from us and we are always rewarding

  38. Mother of 2 says:

    Once when I was very on edge I slapped my son at a very young age across his face. He screamed in pain. I was in shock as to what I had done. I immediately hugged and kissed him telling him how sorry I was to have slapped him. I promised him I would never do it again. When my daughter as a teenager she swore at me I knew she was just trying to get me mad for telling her it was to late for her to “hang out” at night with her older friends. Instead I had her go to her room for the night and told her that I worry about her when she is out with her older friends. I now have two well ajusted adults with children of their own, doing a great job raising children, I might add and I thank God everyday for helping me raise them in a loving way. My approach was to calmly tell them what they had done wrong and grounded them or took something away from them for a period of time. This worked well and they do the same with their children. My father would use a belt to discipline and all he had achieved was fear and disrespect. I am glad I had broken the chain not to repeat the same pattern.

  39. Loving Parent says:

    I absolutely DO NOT believe in spanking. I think if more parents would take the time to consider intelligent, proven alternatives, approved by pediatricians and psychologists, the world would be a better place. There is too much violence in the world as it is. You want to teach your kids it’s ok to hit as long as you have a good reason? Most spanking happens out of anger anyway, and the psychological price is enormous. My mother spanked me & my sister & brothers with a belt, or anything else within her reach for that matter, always out of anger, followed by a crappy apology and tears after the fact. If you are sorry, then why did you do it in the first place? A parent should teach love and respect and kindness. Spanking does not help achieve that goal – it teaches anger and resentment for starters. I grew to despise my mother and her pathetic attempt at parenting. Once she got upset about something dumb and smacked my thigh so hard with a fly-swatter that it left a bruise with criss-cross marks for over a week. I was in middle school. It was summer. I couldn’t wear shorts without my friends seeing it and I was embarassed and hurt and I vowed that day I’d never forgive her, and I vowed that I would never hit my kids someday. And I have kept those vows. I have two wonderful daughters in elementary school who are well-adjusted, well-mannered, well-behaved kids and I didn’t need to spank them to raise them that way. Oh – I don’t believe in the death penalty either. There is too much hypocrisy in this world. It’s ok for us to be violent as long as we’re in the power position? HELL NO.

  40. Loving Parent says:

    Also – I am so sick of hearing the bible references. “I spank because the bible tells me to”. What a cop out. The bible is a book of stories. It is not literal. Wake up people.

  41. Loving Parent says:

    Carla Knight says “According to the Bible it tells you to use like a belt, switch or something of that nature to spank a child and not your hands.” REALLY?? Give me a break. What “version” of the Bible are you referring to? You do know that the Bible is a simply a book of stories passed down by man, many of the books aren’t even written by whom they are attributed. How to discipline children is an opinion, yes, but I would argue that this line of rationale is simply naive and ignorant.

  42. Becky says:

    I have 2 wonderful children ages 6 and 2. When they both were at the state of crawling I started smacking their hand when they would touch or get into something they weren’t suppossed to. And then once they were walking I would swat their buts. And then once they were old enough to understand and follow directions I would send them to thier bed anytime they did something wrong or would throw a fit. I will still occasionaly swat them but it is rare. And I believe that is because I have stayed consistant with my discipline and have to the best of my ability taught them to behave and have self control. Something most kids these days are lacking!!! Yes. I have spanked my kids!!!! A child’s behavior is set early on. By age 2 I think. So with lots of love and consistent discipline I have 2 of the sweetest, most loving and well behaved kids you’ll ever meet. I don’t think it matters what the discipline is as long as there is discipline and definately not abuse! But even if you think it’s not working it is! You just have to be consistent with it and evently the child will get it!

  43. Justin says:

    First of all, don’t worry about what the bible says because none of you people were around when it was first written, so you don’t know if anything in the bible is really the truth. Please don’t use the bible as an excuse to spank or hit anyone because that is just stupid! Secondly, spanking is hitting, so anyone who spanks a child is a sick individual. No one has the right to put their hands on anyone in a harmful or painful manner and if I am wrong then go up to a cop and spank him and we’ll see if you get arrested! Hitting anyone is just wrong, in my mind if it is wrong to hit authority then it is wrong to hit your children too. Besides, if you hit your children then why isn’t it okay for your children to go up to anyone and hit that person if they don’t agree with what ever that person has said or done. Talking things out is always the key to a successful relationship with your kids. It all comes down to respect, how much do your kids respect you (listen to you)? I am still in my teens, my parents never spanked or hit me, ever…they never had to I guess because I respect them enough to listen to what they ask of me and they respect me enough not to hurt me by hitting me!

  44. Jen says:

    I have 2 daughters–15 and 17. I FIRMLY believe that discipline starts when a baby is able to sit up on their own and begins their journey of life(exploring). That’s when parents should set the child’s boundaries. Spanking is not the key at that age. A simple, soft–no, with a head gesture and the parent taking the baby out of harms way is. As the child gets older–so do the discipline methods. I gave my daughter’s their first spanking around the same age–2.5. On each occasion, it was while we were in a store. It started with wanting an item and me, politely, but assertively saying—No! Then the typical begging began and I repeated myself. Then they’d each “up the bet” with banging their feet against the metal cart and begging loudly, while crying. On each different occasion, I gave up the bargaining and took action. I lifted them out the car, stood them on their feet, took their hand and walked towards the back of the store, for the bathroom. I made sure it was cleared out. I took her inside the stall, closed the door, spanked her backside 3 times and I turned her around. I then squatted down to her level and said, ” do not act like that ever again! Do you hear me?” Shocked and wowed, sniffling–it was truly understood! That’s all it took! I never had it happen again, with either daughters. I remember, my youngest was about 5, and was witnessing another little girl, throwing a tantrum, with her mother and my daughter tugged my hand and quietly said–She needs a spanking. My point of sharing my thoughts of spanking is this—–Kids will remember the act for being disciplined and why their actions warranted the spanking. The whole “bargaining” with kids is for the birds! They don’t hear that or even understand it. Taking away toys is like us adults with new gadgets—the thrill wears off rather quickly. To this day! My teenagers thank me for raising them the way I did. They both think it’s crazy, what their peers do, to get attention. The both have such high self-esteem and have acquired their own boundaries for themselves, with regard to their education and helping out around the house. YEP! I don’t have to ASK for help. They are both happy, active, loving, respectful, WELL-MANNERED, 85% angels, giving and good students(oldest is heading to the University of Arkansas fall 2011). I am thankful that I can say—I’ve haven’t lost any sleep, wanted to pull my hair out or seek advice, over either of them being unruly or troublesome. YOUNG PARENTS!!! THE TRICK IS…START CONSISTENTLY SETTING BOUNDARIES, WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG and CONTINUE. Talking OPENLY is an excellent tool also.

  45. Misty says:

    I say YES to spanking; OF COURSE, in an appropriate manner. I just think it’s one way that could aide in helping learn right from wrong. It worked for me as a kid. I didn’t want the spanking, so, I was taught to make better choices to avoid being spanked.

  46. Deidra says:

    yes I do believe spanking is an option. I feel before there was a law against spanking children were more behaved then they are today. A pop when necessary is a way of training the child what they can and can not get away with.

  47. kyle b says:

    I am a 40 year old single dad i have two children a girl twenty and a son eight.i have only spanked my daughter twice n very mildly but in public which i believe is more effective because i believe the mier embarrasment is more effective than the physical action.My daughter grew up very well behaved and always listened.Im doing the same with my son and seeing the same results hes eight and ive only spanked him twice .Spanking is to disapline not to hurt phisicaly Its more to show mental strength not physical strength!
    hope this helps/

  48. CJ says:

    I believe that there are times that a child needs to be spanked. I don’t believe in child-abuse but discipline is not abuse. I’d rather spank my child now than to have the cops knock them up-side their head later. A child is just that, a child!! You have to teach your child and be the main voice in your childs life. There are going to be other influences that will try to sway your child but if you are the main voice in your childs life, then your child will become a mature adult with good training from you the parent. I read a blog where someone said something about Adult A not respecting Adult B. HOLD UP!! We are not talking about 2 adults here. We are talking about One adult and a child!! I have raised all of my children and for the most part they have turned out to be great adults. To each his or her own on how they feel they should raise their child/children, but all mine came back and said thanks to me for being a great dad

  49. Sharon Carman says:

    We raised an only child who is now 38 years old. When he was old enough to crawl and reach for things we started with the disipline by saying no-no and removing him from the area or object he was interested in and getting his attention on something else. We worked together in the disipline of our son. We never threatened or raised our voice to our son. We used popcicle sticks as the scale for discipline. We made it very plain from the beginning that we were the parents and made the rules. We always urged him to talk to us about everything,even if it meant him telling us that he was angry with us about something. Today, he is a very successful banker with a family of his own and he and our daughter-in-law are doing a wonderful job parenting their children.
    There are many people that have children that shouldn’t have them. Screaming and threatening children is not good. If the children are started out in the right manner the parents will enjoy parenting every day because their children will be happier and so will they.
    Laughter should fill a home -not screaming and crying.

  50. Gabe Simmerman says:

    I think spanking is a very touchy topic. I think spanking is okay for toddlers 2-4 yrs not any age over that because alot of times Spanking in many times is misused. Some parents use belts to spank, some spank with a open hand. Some spank to much. To many times have i seen the effects of children who have been spanked sometimes the child will spank the parent thinking its funny which i personally feel is an inapproprate physical contact. I think parents need to look at other consequences for thier childrens negative behaviors.

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