top of page

Spanking Is No Laughing Matter: Know Better. Do Better.

When Adults suggest spanking--joke or not--it harms children.

This week, parents took to social media after photos and videos circulated from the royal family celebrating the Queen's Jubilee and her official birthday.

I'm not even going to show the photos here, as I struggle with the way these children are subjected to the public eye in the first place. Still, the images showed the four-year-old Prince Louis being defiant with his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, during several engagements throughout their celebrations. At first, I thought seeing a genuine moment between a mother and son was sweet. A struggle, a moment I would have probably handled differently, but a human mo ent. And then, quickly, I was horrified when I read hundreds of blue check verified accounts suggesting that the child should be or would be beaten for his behavior. These " jokes " seem harmless; however, I don't believe they are. I understand why people do not want to take this issue seriously; it is uncomfortable and challenging to talk it out. Especially those of us who grew up in an era where our parents were told it was the right thing to do by everyone who matt red. But now we know better and when we know better, we must do better. And this behavior, joking about or defending parents spanking their kids, shows how normalized physical discipline still is in our society. And how badly we need to change the conversation.

Should spanking be left up to parents?

What is Spanking? Isn't it just a form of discipline that should be left up to parents?

First, what is Spanning? Corporal punishment, the fancy word for spanking, is when a parent hits a child to punish them. Most of the time, it's when a parent hits their child with an open hand on the buttocks, but it can be any physical punishment that causes pain. This is different from hitting someone in self-defense because the goal is to cause pain, and the fear of future pain, for discipline.

Spanking is a form of physical violence that can cause serious harm to the body and mind of an individual. The impact of spanking on a child is similar to beating or punching another person; it could result in injuries, pain, bruises, and even broken bones. But that's the least impactful harm that spanking cases. Spankings also carry psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. In addition, spanking may make children more aggressive towards others but less able to handle anger appropriately or deal with conflict peacefully in later life (Larzelere et al., 2001).

Okay, okay, but parents are parents who can choose for their kids, right? The answer is no, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Even if we pretend parents own their children, we must ask, is it effective?

The fact is, it isn't. The AAP outlines clearly in their guide to effective discipline the studies and real-world examples that show how spanking not only doesn't work but is often counterproductive. So in actuality, it's both morally wrong and an ineffective parenting tool. I highly suggest reading the guide in its entirety to fully understand the harmful effects of spanking on children.

Children need to be treated with respect and deserve bodily autonomy.

As a society, we must understand that children are whole people. Children deserve to be treated with respect and should be given bodily autonomy. They are not objects, animals, or property to control or serve you. Teaching our children consent and bodily autonomy starts from birth. And it begins with remembering that you do not own your child. They are a whole person with their rights and desires and nee s. This is a core tenant of being an ethical parent. I love this article by Bria Bloom explaining why we do not own our children.

Spanking is always harmful.

Spanking is never acceptable. This should be a no-brainer, but spanking is not disciplined and doesn't teach your child to behave better. In fact, it teaches them the exact opposite: that violence is an appropriate response to anger or frustration.

While spanking apologists like to claim its legality as proof of its acceptability, the fact is that it's outlawed in dozens of countries around the world, but not enough if you grew up being spanked and turned out just fine; great (I also don't believe you)! But why would you want to subject your child to something that research has shown increases their risk for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and aggression? Just because "that's how I was raised" doesn't make it rig t. We know better n w. And when we know better, we do better.

And don't take my word for it; the American Association of Pediatrics came out in 2018 against spanking.

"Corporal punishment – or the use of spanking as a disciplinary tool –increases aggression in young children in the long run and is ineffective in teaching a child responsibility and self-control. In fact, new evidence suggests that it may cause harm to the child by affecting normal brain development. Other methods that teach children right from wrong are safer and more effective."

Spanking is abuse. Whether you're the one doing it or someone else in your family—Spanking hurts children emotionally and physically, leading to long-term problems like anxiety and depression or even physical issues such as chronic pain or asthma later in li e. Even if you're not hitting hard enough for bruises to show up on their skin, you are causing lasting harm to their brain structure and self-worth.

What are alternatives to spanking?

I'm not telling you to let your children run wild and control every minute of your d y. And I'm not telling you it's always easy.

Gentle does not mean permissive.

And respecting their needs does not mean allowing them to control every aspect of your life.

There are effective and loving ways to set boundaries and raise healthy, kind, and securely attached children. And there are endless resources to connect you. Here's a list of my blog posts on parenting and discipline. You can find tools and suggestions from many different perspectives. As well as encouragement and transparency regarding the struggles of parenthood.

Have a question? Certain situations you struggle with? Email me at or schedule a discovery call, and I'd love to see how I can support you. The one thing I've learned since being more open and transparent about my parenting struggles is that if you're going through it, there's going to be another parent who has gone through the same thing who can offer, if nothing else, some encouragement. So if I can't answer your question, I'll connect you with someone who can! With over ten years in childcare and a network of caregivers, parent educators, and mindfulness coaches, I know I can find you an answer.

American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Policy on Corporal Punishment.

57 views0 comments
bottom of page