Here is a little more detail.

I have two daughters 8 and 12. We still spank the eight year old and everything works well. We stopped spanking the oldest probably about age ten and started grounding her etc..

Now the problem is the oldest sees that the youngest can take her punishment, cry a little, and be on her way... and the oldest really wants to be spanked also because she somehow thinks its easier!

yes by all means we talk, we all calm down nothing is done in anger. We talk about different choices next time. The final spanking is done to set things straight and give an ending to a bad situation. I think so many of you are thinking it is done like a toddler where you run over and wack there bum to stop a behavior which we only did once to stop from running in the street

  • 3
    "she somehow thinks its easier!" - Could it be because it ... is easier? It is the easy way.
    – sehe
    Feb 14, 2017 at 19:49
  • Does spanking get the desired result from both children? It sounds like the spankings are somewhat repetitive, and I would suggest that you consider how effective they really are. Please add some detail about how you administer the spanking and what behavior changes you see. I have 3 daughters and I personally felt awkward spanking them after age 6ish. I also agree with sehe - spanking is easier for the parent and the child. I generally spanked when I was lazy about discipline and/or lazy about giving them guidance and attention.
    – Adam Heeg
    Feb 14, 2017 at 21:37
  • 6
    There is policy and precedent regarding posting an answer that disagrees with the premise. If you absolutely don't agree with the premise on an SE site, the best option is to walk away. Anyone considering writing an answer needs to ensure they are answering the question that was asked.
    – Acire
    Feb 15, 2017 at 15:36
  • 4
    I'm closing this question as off-topic because it is asking for guidance on something that is illegal in many parts of the world, and will generate an emotive response in most of the audience, not answers that the OP wants.
    – Rory Alsop
    Feb 16, 2017 at 12:31
  • 3
    @RoryAlsop I'm honestly shocked that this would be closed. Spanking is illegal in many parts of the world, and legal in many parts of the world. I'm personally against it, but banning discussion of it seems to just cut off opportunities for rational discussion (and ignores that it has been on-topic for as long as the site existed; am I missing meta discussion?). The inability of people to avoid berating or lecturing people who have different approaches to parenting is the problem of the people who can't resist providing unsolicited advice; it is not the fault of the person asking the question.
    – user420
    Mar 21, 2017 at 12:33

2 Answers 2


It helps to consider the purpose of spanking in the discipline toolbox. In my experience, spanking alone is worthless in terms of correcting behavior. Parents need to explain to children why exactly their behavior is wrong in addition (and usually before) corporal punishment. For instance, when our infants tried to bite us (or each other), we'd say "no bite" and lightly flick their cheek. The goal was to associate the act of biting someone else with an unpleasant feeling and also get into the habit of teaching rather than just punishing.

As our children have grown, the education element has become more important. Instead of "no bite", we now explain in full sentences that biting hurts other people. If we use spanking, it comes at the end of a discussion about what the punishment is for. Over time, that very conversation becomes the thing our children dread more than spanking itself. Like your twelve-year-old, my children sometimes prefer a quick spank compared to the conversation about their behavior.

By the time my oldest was 12, we'd long stopped using spanks. At that age, my disapproval was far more effective than any other form of punishment. For one of my children, spanking has never worked as well as simply holding them in my lap. So it requires good judgement to determine if spanking is useful or not; age alone isn't really the determining factor.

I'd suggest talking with your children about what punishments they think are appropriate. I had this conversation with my oldest and we agreed grounding was not a good discipline for him since he enjoyed spending time alone in his room. We agreed that withholding some of his allowance was a better punishment as a general rule. For my preschoolers, I offer a choice between several appropriate punishments. One pleasant side effect is that they spend (a little) less energy complaining about the punishment and seem more engaged when I talk with them about their behavior.

I should also point out that spanking can make matters worse if it isn't grounded with a reason for the punishment or if the parent loses control of their temper. While it's best to discipline as soon as possible, I've occasionally needed to just to walk away from the situation until my own anger is under control. In the few times I haven't done that and punished out of anger, I've needed to come back to my child later to apologize. Again, the key is to focus on education rather than punishment.

  • 1
    yes by all means we talk, we all calm down nothing is done in anger. We talk about different choices next time. The final spanking is done to set things straight and give an ending to a bad situation. I think so many of you are thinking it is done like a toddler where you run over and wack there bum to stop a behavior which we only did once to stop from running in the street
    – Haily
    Feb 16, 2017 at 15:29
  • @Haily: It's good to know you are using spanking responsibly. This is a somewhat controversial parenting technique and many people do misuse it. The fact that your older child is interested in receiving that punishment indicates that you are going about it the right way. (I think some people missed that bit of your question.) In any case, I'm sorry people thought the worst. That's unfair. Feb 16, 2017 at 15:55
  • thanks Jon! Yes I know that I should have had a better description... I wasn't really thinking people would think the worst and react
    – Haily
    Feb 16, 2017 at 16:14
  • @sbi: In my experience, words are not much use for infants. Immediate physical correction does prevent future occurrences of the behavior. They have not yet developed a theory of mind and mostly respond to direct stimula. They can understand that biting causes pain, but you can't explain that using words. Only by directly experiencing pain can they understand. (For what it's worth, we originally learned of this technique from a lactation consultant. For babies who bite the mother, a moment of pain is far better than an artificial nipple.) Feb 17, 2017 at 6:32
  • @Jon: Again, my kids are proof that this is simply wrong.
    – sbi
    Feb 17, 2017 at 12:36

When it stops working as a punishment.

The deterrent effect of a punishment comes mostly from the speed and certainty with which it is applied, and has very little to do with the nature or severity of the punishment. As long as your daughter considers a punishment to be a punishment, it will work.

  • 3
    Adding into OPs question, spanking won't work with your eldest because she expects it to be the fast and easy way out, so, she needs to be grounded. While with your youngest, it could still be the way to go for a while. Feb 14, 2017 at 21:23
  • I think mostly she doesn't think it would hurt very bad so she thinks her sister is getting off easy.. which she is not
    – Haily
    Feb 15, 2017 at 14:36

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