Q&A – Spanking Instrument

Question: There is some controversy over whether a parent should spank with his or her hand or with some other object, such as a belt or paddle. What do you recommend?

Answer: I recommend a neutral object of some type. To those who disagree on this point, I'd encourage them to do what seems right. It is not a critical issue to me. The reason I suggest a switch or paddle is because the hand should be seen as an object of love--to hold, hug, pat, and caress. However, if you're used to suddenly disciplining with the hand, your child may not know when she's about to be swatted and can develop a pattern of flinching when you make an unexpected move. This is not a problem if you take the time to use a neutral object.

My mother always used a small switch, which could not do any permanent damage. But it stung enough to send a very clear message. One day when I had pushed her to the limit, she actually sent me to the backyard to cut my own instrument of punishment. I brought back a tiny little twig about seven inches long. She could not have generated anything more than a tickle with it. She never sent me on that fool's errand again.

As I conceded above, some people (particularly those who are opposed to spanking in the first place) believe that the use of a neutral object in discipline is tantamount to child abuse. I understand their concern, especially in cases when a parent believes "might makes right" or loses her temper and harms the child. That is why adults must always maintain a balance between love and control, regardless of the method by which they administer disciplinary action.

The The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide

By Dr. James Dobson

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