How to Spank Your Kids the Right Way

[Update: I’ve recently made a couple of videos on this subject: Should I Spank My Kids? & How to Spank Your Kids.]

[I’ve also written a free ebook. Click here to download.]

Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. – Proverbs 29:17

I’m by no means a perfect person or a perfect parent, but there is one thing that I am happy to say about my household: I have peace in my house and my heart is glad.

My kids are pleasant for the most part. We have lots of fun together. They aren’t afraid of me. They are fun-loving, carefree toddlers, just like all toddlers should be. They ask a lot of questions, they like to get into stuff, they make a mess, they pee in their pants, but they’re great kids. I love ’em.

I don’t ever yell at my kids. Ever. But they seem to mind pretty good. Just today I was able to get my two-year-old to eat all her vegetables without lifting my voice at all. How you ask? I spank my kids.

I don’t like to spank my kids. I really don’t. I avoid it as much as possible, but I’ve found that it is the only effective way to really teach your children properly. I like rewards much better. Today I told my two-year-old that if she ate all her vegetables that I would give her a popsicle afterward. Sometimes that works. Today it didn’t. She didn’t care about the popsicle enough to want to eat her vegetables. It’s important to me that she eats her vegetables, so I added the punishment: “Katee, if you don’t eat your vegetables, I’m going to give you a spanking.”

WHAT?? I can see the jaws dropping now and the heads shaking. But here’s the thing: it worked. She ate every last bite. Then I gave her a popsicle – and she was glad to have it! I was happy, she was happy. She even gave me a proud high-five after eating the last bite of veggies.

You might be wondering, “would he have really spanked her for not eating them?” Yes, I would. I have before.

But here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have forced her to eat them. You can’t really force anyone to do anything. You can only hope to persuade them. As a parent, I know that Katee needs to eat her vegetables, so I want to be very persuasive.

Some people may think this is harsh, but I think its much less harsh than what I have seen in other households: yelling and screaming constantly, guilt-tripping, parents emotionally trashing their kids to try to get them to do what they want them to do. I think that is abusive. Spanking your kids properly is not abusive.

A few months ago I asked Halle to pick up her toys. She wouldn’t. I told her that if she didn’t, I would give her a spanking. I calmly told her I was going to count to three and if she didn’t get started she was getting a spanking. Three came and she wasn’t moving. I picked her up and carried her over to the couch. She screamed bloody murder. She begged and pleaded not to get spanked, she said she was sorry, but I know that if you want your kids to respect you, then your threats need to be meaningful. I pulled the back of her pants down just enough to expose her buttocks. I took a wooden spoon and spanked her, and I made sure it hurt (relatively). One or two licks is all I do, sometimes three. I explained to her why she needed to listen to me and then I held her as lovingly as possible until she stopped crying. After about 10 minutes she was calmed down enough, and I let her go to her mother. As toddlers, I usually don’t make them do whatever I spanked them for after I spank them. I don’t feel like it’s a worth having to spank them again if they don’t do it. The point is that I give them a choice, and now they know (or are reminded) that choosing a spanking is not the best choice.

I’ve never had to spank Halle again regarding picking up her toys. As a matter of fact, I spank my children very rarely. Once or twice a month is all I ever spank them. It was more in the beginning when we first started spanking them, but once they learned how it works it was a lot less. Today I ask Halle to pick up her toys and she does it. Sometimes she cries while she’s doing it, but she does it. And it’s amazing how happy she is with herself after she does!

Am I doing this just to have a calm household? No, not just for me, but for them. The incredible skill that spankings teach them will be a skill that will be invaluable in their future. It’s called self-discipline.

When Halle picks up toys, crying while she does it, she’s exercising self-discipline. She is learning that, in life, you have to do things you don’t want to do sometimes. She picks up her toys now because she doesn’t want the pain of a spanking. But that same exercise of self-discipline will come in handy when she needs to study for a test so she won’t face the pain of failing, or manage her money, so she won’t face the pain of being broke. The uses of this great skill are endless.

“But,” someone might say, “spankings don’t work for my child.” Well, take your bible then, and throw it out the window. Seriously.

God says that it works. Maybe you just aren’t working it right.

I think the majority of the time, people who say spankings don’t work either don’t spank hard enough, or don’t continue in it – they give up after a few times.

I remember as a kid, I was terrified of my dad’s spankings, but with my mom, I would just pretend to cry when she spanked me so she wouldn’t get my dad. Her spankings didn’t hurt. Spankings need to hurt.

Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart. – Proverbs 20:30 (see also Heb 12:11)

You don’t have to beat the tar out of your kid to make it hurt. It just has to sting. That’s why I never recommend using your hand. Your hand is a blunt object that probably has some padding on it. You’ll have to really hit your kid hard to make it hurt. But if you use a wooden spoon or small stick, a little whack will sting bad, but do no damage. Try it on yourself. It’ll sting, but nothing more.

The second thing is that you must continue in it. Be serious if you threaten a spanking. If you don’t go through with your threats your children will easily and quickly pick up on it. It may take a little bit for it to start working. Use wisdom. Pray about it. Ask God for help.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on this. My kids are still toddlers. All I know is that this is what the Bible clearly teaches – and it works for me so far.

I work around a lot of teenagers. Self-discipline is severely lacking in many of them. Is it because spankings have become so taboo? I think it might have something to do with it. I can’t tell for sure. But I sure can tell which teens have been properly raised up with the paddle. They tend to be the most pleasant, the most respectful, and the most diligent. I want my kids to be that way. I’m sure you do, too.

[For more on this subject, see my previous blog entitled “You shall beat your child with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”]


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