Smacking a Child an Effective Way to Stop a Child from Hitting???

Updated on April 22, 2011
M.P. asks from Orem, UT
14 answers

****This is no way an attack or a plead for you to stop spanking/smacking/swatting a child, but me wanting to understand your thinking.*******

Why do you spanking/smacking/swat a child for hitting someone else?? I just don't get the logic of hitting a child who you are trying to teach NOT to hit. Please explain this to me.

***This is an adult discussion, please no hate towards other mom's and THEIR opinions :D****

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Thanks all! For the most part I agree with most of your responses that hitting is only reserved for the most dangerous or serious of offenses. My son is now hitting me or swatting at the air when he is frustrated he's only 18 months but if this continues I and my telling him no, be gentle (insert example of being gently) doesn't work, I might have to swat his little hand.

Also thank you all for being grownup in my posts and treating each others reply with respect. Now I'm hoping no nasy PM's became of this!
I hope to keep reading more of your answers!

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answers from Atlanta on

I used to be one of those parents that was completely against spankings but when my daughter was in first grade her behavior was awful. Her teachers would call me everyday. She would start fights with the other kids at school and on the bus, talk back to the teachers, disrupt the class and not follow directions. I tried talking to her..but she would lie and promise me she would be good. Teacher call me at work the same day. I tried punishments like taking away things she loved. But it didnt work. But when she was suspended, I spanked her and I havent had anymore problems from her since. Whenever she think about doing something wrong, all I have to do now is give her the eye. I am still against spankings, but that time out stuff dont always work.

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answers from San Francisco on

The logic is this: A child who has never felt the sting of a slap, doesn't know it hurts. Sometimes it only takes one stinging slap to the back of the hand, or a bare tush, to breed empathy in the child.

My three year old daughter swung her arm back, after I picked her up to pull her away from something I didn't want her messing with, and gave me a resounding crack on the face. I set her down, pulled out her hand and slapped the hand that slapped me.

She pulled her hand to her chest and her eyes teared up. I looked her in the eye and said, "Did you feel that? Hitting hurts. Don't do it again." She never hit me again. Now when she's really mad she'll squinch up her face, ball her hand up in a fist, hold her fist out towards me and yell, "Don't be mean to my life!"

14 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Though I can see why using corporal punishment on a child who is hitting may seem illogical, remember that children are not mini adults. Their brains do not work the same way as an adult's does.
For some kids, spankings are what gets through to them. This year my 4 year old had a hitting problem. At first the don't hit to punish hitting theory seemed plausible to me so I tried every other punishment I could think of to no avail, then resorted to using a spanking. Turned out it was what **finally** put an end the problem. Can't argue with results.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

i agree 150%

It doesn't stop kids from hitting. It teaches conflict resolution by way of hitting.

But get ready for this post to be pulled, and for possible hate mail. Spanking is biblically based. Spanking is passed down from mother to child, to child to child to child, like a piece of furniture through the ages. This reinforces the evidence that hitting begets hitting. In my opinion.

I was hit, and i constantly have to fight this urge.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i understand the rationale that hitting a child will make them realize what it feels like and 'teach' them not to. it's just that the rationale isn't really correct. littles learn what they experience, not the logically thought-out sequential thinking that adults do. so when an angry child is struck (or whatever 'nice' euphemism is used), that's what they learn.
that being said, i think spanking CAN have a place in family discipline. it's just so rarely used appropriately. spanking out of anger or frustration is never effective. IF the child understands (really understands- toddlers don't) that continuing a course of action will result in being hit, and said child continues that course of action, it can be argued that the child is requesting a spanking and the parent should oblige.
and i do know some parents who do it this way, and rarely have to employ it. sometimes the results speak for themselves.
but for every one of those examples, it can be very well argued that other methods that don't employ physical violence would have worked as well or better.
i'm not speaking from an ivory tower here. we spanked both of our littles. i quit spanking the older boy because it broke his heart to be hit. explaining just worked better for him, with consequences like time-out or loss of privileges. he was never a difficult child, so spanking him was just his dad's and my lack of experience as parents. we didn't know any better.
i ended up spanking the younger out of desperation because it was so much harder to find an effective way to discipline him. but the humiliation aspect of being hit really worked differently on him. he went completely inward, turned icy and silent and unresponsive, even as a toddler. since that was not at all what i was going for, i had to find other methods. he trained me effectively to be a better parent. and not because i was so enlightened, simply looking to find something that worked.
negative reinforcement is just rarely a useful long-term teaching strategy. i'd be all for it if my experience had shown me that it was.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I've never spanked or hit my child, and she's never hit me or anyone else. I agree with you that I can't understand hitting a child to teach them not to hit. I haven't had to deal with the issue, though, so I don't have a solution.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

If the child is able to feel the effects of someone hitting them on the back of the hand, normally after a time or 2, they stop because it hurts. They are able to figure that out. It's the same way with biting. If a child becomes a biter, if you bite them back enough to where they can feel it, yet don't leave marks or to draw blood, they stop. Kids hit and bite because those are their only defenses. However, when they realize that what they're doing to other people hurts and then that those others they have hit &/or bit are going to return the "favor", they stop.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When my kids went through that phase, I would tell them, we don't hit. After telling them we don't hit, that hurts till I was blue in the face, I finally said if you hurt sissy, mommy will hurt you and you will get a spanking. That sounds mean but the hitting stopped after a couple spankings. I rarely give spankings but I do if they purposely hurt someone. Not if it is accidental. I can't remember the last time I gave a spanking because I try to make the punishment fit the crime. If you make a mess, you clean it up kind of thing. If our son plays around at baseball practice, he comes home and practices some more at home. If you break something, you pay to have it replaced. Etc.

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answers from Washington DC on

I typically don't swat my child for hitting someone else. My "look" is enough for them.

There is a difference TO ME in punishment vs. attacking/swatting - Spanking is a form of punishment - attacking/swatting makes you no better than your child in his behavior.

Yes, I've pulled a Gibbs (NCIS) on my boys when they've done bone-headed things. We've found that spanking doesn't necessarily work for our children. Re-directing them and talking to them...expressing again and again the rules of our home...
1. If it's not yours, don't touch it.
2. If you don't want it done to you - DO NOT do it to someone else.
3. If you break something that is NOT YOURS - fess up.
4. HONESTY and integrity are tantamount to your character.

When my 11 year old does something to his brother - I will go up to him and ask him "Do you want me to do it to you?" His reply? No. Well, then what made you do it? There are times when he's done something REALLY stupid and I've done it back to him - he didn't like it and it didn't happen again.

Hope this helps.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

In my observation, experience, & education.... empathy is a LEARNED trait. To teach children not to hurt others parents pretty universally have to make their children cry/become upset when they hurt someone else. It links feeling badly with hurting others.

There are two main routes to do this:

- Guilt & Shame (timeouts -> disapproval/ shunning) aka emotional pain
- Physical Pain (swats, spanks, other form of physical punishment)

There is a third way as well, but it's not generally used as a primary but as an optional add on to one of the above:

- Fear (typically achieved via yelling)


My personal opinion is that all 2.5 options have both upsides AND downsides, and that there is no one way that is right for every child... although I think most of us can agree that the *worst* way is to do none of the above but instead to approve tacitly or openly of the behavior by doing nothing.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

For our household there is a difference between "hitting" and "spanking" and we emphasis the differences if and when appropriate. I never tell my LO that I'm going to "hit" her if she does or doesn't do something. I tell her she's going to get a "spanking." She knows the difference =)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The logic is - if you hit someone, youre gonna get hit back, and it's gonna hurt!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Birmingham on

I'm interested in reading all the reason-based answers to this, because I wonder about this.

Swatting or spanking? Well, two thoughts come to mind for situations/reasons. "this is how you made - feel, hurt and sad" and swatting to get attention when doing potentially dangerous things- like reaching up on to the stove.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I don't think hitting is a way to get a child to stop from hitting others, but I do think a swat is necessary at times. Like when one of my children gets out of the car and runs to the back of it and out into the parking lot area. Or right now we are on vacation in a "city-like" place where we parked the car when we got here and won't get it back until the day we we walk EVERYWHERE. My youngest gets to skipping and running and doesn't want to always when he stepped out into the road the first time without looking and I popped him, he hasn't done it again.

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