What to do when spanking doesn’t work By Rick Malm
While spanking is certainly not the only form of discipline a parent should have in their Parenting Toolbox, it just as certainly should not be one they refuse to use. It’s the only form of discipline the Creator Himself promised would work. God Himself puts His stamp of approval and His guarantee on it. But there may be times when you spank a child and they still absolutely refuse to obey. This is especially true if you have backed down from a confrontation of the wills in the past. When their stubbornness wins the day they are encouraged to endure even greater opposition in the future confident you will again back down and they will get their way. A child’s will to resist also seems to be strengthened when we’re spanking them out of our own anger. I believe we should never spank a child when we are angry. Wait. Cool off. Make sure you can spank them with their best interest at heart, not as a way to vent frustration. When done properly spanking is not abusive behavior. It is something you do for your child not something you do to your child. It may not even involve inflicting pain because the purpose of spanking is to bring the child’s will into submission to your will – not to inflict pain.
That’s why, when it became necessary to spank one of my children I would start with a few firm swats just to let them know I was serious and would follow through with what I promised. If that didn’t work I would increase the intensity. With some children a few gentle pats brings immediate repentance and submission. But because you are reading this, I’m guessing that’s not your child. So what do you do when you have spanked, increased the intensity a time or two and increasing the severity could actually physically damage the child? I say “damage” because a second spanking should “hurt” them in the sense of inflicting some pain but not in the sense of inflicting damage. Perhaps you’ve seen children –usually older ones - so hardened that it appears they would endure water boarding or the rack before they would give up or give in. What can you do at that point? www.NoPerfectParents.com
In that situation a parent can’t afford to just quit. To do so hardens their will and confirms their belief – I can get what I want if I just hold out long enough. But you also don’t need to continue escalating the situation to a point of abuse. I believe in such cases it is better to call a truce. “It’s obvious we aren’t going to be able to solve this right now but we’ll come back and deal with it later.” That let’s the child know they have not won but also allows everyone – including the child - time to cool off, reevaluate, gain a new perspective and perhaps approach the problem from a different angle. During the cooling off time ask the Lord for wisdom. How should you approach this? Is there something you’re not seeing? Why is my child so resolute on this issue? Is there something in my attitude that needs to be adjusted? How and when do I go back to this issue? Make sure your attitude is one of humility. Sowing and reaping applies here – if you are acting out of your own stubbornness that same attitude will be reflected in your child. If you’re acting out of anger or selfishness your child will reflect that back. Spanking is not and should not be child abuse. When done properly it’s an act of sacrificial love – something we do to help our children learn to submit their will to our will so later they will be able to more easily submit their will to the will of their loving Heavenly Father. SPANKING VS CHILD ABUSE Spanking Abusive Behavior Parental attitude: Sorrow over sin – the child’s Parental attitude: Anger & Self-focus at how my child disobedience made me feel or appear. Action: Calm, controlled spanking of the child’s bottom.
Action: Angry, out-of-control shaking or striking the child anywhere on their body.
Instrument: lightweight rod that inflicts pain but could not inflict serious injury. (Proverbs 23:13)
Instrument: Hand or whatever weapon is convenient.
Spanking is an action that says I love you too much to allow you to continue to be ruled by your own will and desires.
Abuse is a reaction that says I love myself and you are interfering with my happiness.
Result: Child is affirmed in love by the parent after the spanking.
Result: Child may obey out of fear but is taught that violence is an acceptable form of behavior toward those that inconvenience or cross us.
Focus: On the child and helping him/her learn to submit his will to his parents and the Lord which enables them to rise above being a slave to their own inner drives and desires
Focus: The adult who has been inconvenienced or embarrassed and is seeking to have satiate their own inner drives and desires – for control, for affirmation, to be left alone, etc. 2