Spank Out Day: 3 Untruths and 11 Alternatives to Spanking

Today is the 13th National Spank Out Day USA.

Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 CarnivalThis post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Practically every professional organization in the U.S. and Canada that is concerned with education and proper development of children, has taken a public stance against the practice of spanking.

While I believe families have the right to choose how to parent their child, I don’t believe that humiliation, hurt and pain can be considered parenting or parenting tools.  Children have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and a life free of violence. Spanking is disrespectful and has the potential to become abusive. Unfortunately, there are still some untruths about spanking that are being shared among parents and so-called experts.

If you are reading here, then you probably already know the value of a positive parenting relationship, but perhaps at times we all wonder, falter or need the words to back up our decisions.

Here are some thoughts on three common untruths of spanking:

  • ?Untruth #1: Spanking, given with fairness, love and care, is an effective discipline technique.

Spanking hurts. No matter what, the intention of a spanking is for a child to feel pain. The flawed argument is that the pain will make them learn. If one does something with the intent to hurt someone, then it is not loving or caring. The root of the word “discipline” means “to teach”, not hurt or shame. Therefore spanking cannot be fair, loving or a caring technique. If an adult over-charged his credit card, even knowing they will not have enough money to pay for the charge at the end of the month (so deliberately doing something they know is not the best choice) and the bank manager came over to spank that adult so they finally learned to manage their finances, it would be called assault. Even if a child picks up a vase and smashes it down deliberately, it means the child is angry and upset, and needs someone to listen, empathize, not that the child needs to be assaulted.

  • ?Untruth #2: Certain behaviors can only be managed with spanking.

Children of all ages make mistakes, behave in ways that baffle us and upset us. From throwing tantrums, to hitting, biting, kicking, lying and stealing, running into the street, there are positive alternatives for dealing with every possible scenario. A parent can choose positive discipline tools, gentle parenting strategies, working with a coach or health professional, taking a parenting course, reading parenting books and websites…Spanking does not need to enter the equation, not even as a last resort.

  • ?Untruth#3: Once children are old enough to understand “no,” they are old enough for a spanking.

Once a child is old enough to understand “no” they are also old enough to understand “yes”, “I love you”, “let’s try something else”, “please” and much more…In a positive atmosphere, children can learn the value of cooperation, empathy, natural consequences and problem solving, much more valuable life lessons than a sore behind and a hurt soul.

When parents turn to Spanking, they typically do so out of a combination of anger, frustration, tiredness, despair and/or fear.

So what are some alternatives to Spanking?

  1. Be pro-active: Create a safe environment and circumstances in which your child(ren) can succeed.  Child-proof the home, encourage healthy sleep habits, provide ample opportunities for your child to play,  explore and burn energy.
  2. Set routines: The more predictability for you and your child(ren) the better you can navigate your day and the daily grind.
  3. Set guidelines:  Along with routines, children thrive within a frame of guidelines and limits. Most families choose non-negotiable limits such as “no hitting/hurting/teasing/bullying”. Additionally, families can design guidelines that align with their own values and needs.
  4. Adjust your expectations: Know what your child(ren) is capable of doing based on their age, developmental stage and individual abilities. Whatever the situation, adjusting your expectations will help reduce frustration for all.
  5. Encourage and Involve: Keep your children involved, let them participate in daily life with household tasks, welcome their ideas, encourage their participation in family decisions. Children need encouragement just as much as they need healthy meals, rest and hugs.
  6. Model the behavior you wish to see: Children learn so much from observation, the more you demonstrate how to do things (how to handle anger, how to share, how to be kind for example)  the more a child will wish to do the same.
  7. Prepare and practice: When going somewhere that has certain expectations and rules, like an airplane,  talking about and practicing those skills ahead of time helps children remember what they are expected to do.
  8. Take  2, 3 & 10: Much like a movie being filmed and needing several takes, we all need a second, third and possibly a tenth take to get things right. So go ahead, take a deep breath and allow your child to try again, and again and again.
  9. Questions & Choices:  Giving choices, asking questions and inviting a child to participate in the decision making process can help everyone feel involved, respected and heard. Instead of commanding and demanding which leads to defensiveness and “defiance” aim for cooperation and involvement.
  10. Have family meetings: Set time aside every week to check in with the whole family, talk about what is going well and what could be done differently, then do something fun together. Learn more here.

11. When all else seems to be failing and you think you might strike?

Make sure everyone is in a safe place and/or ask someone to help you. Count to ten, twenty or one hundred, whatever number you need. Go into a room by yourself and release your emotions, cry, yell into a pillow, take deep breaths, do what you need to do until you are ready to deal with the situation at hand with a cool head.

You only get to live each phase of your child’s life, right there, in that moment, that one time.Being pro-active, involving your child and providing a safe environment in which they can thrive is the biggest gift you can give them.

Please share this to spread awareness about Spank Out Day! Together we can really make a difference in the lives of children everywhere.

Peace & Be Well,


Are you committed to parenting in a positive way?  Have you taken the Positive Parenting Promise?

Come join the growing community at the Positive Parenting Connection on Facebook for daily inspiration, ideas and resources.


Additional Reading:

If not punishment, Then what?
The Debate on Spanking is Dead By James C. Talbot

Four Alternatives to Punishment

Why Punishment will not make children behave.

22 Alternatives to Punishment by Jane Hunt


Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival hosted by TouchstoneZ

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Image: Vlado /

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

4 thoughts on “Spank Out Day: 3 Untruths and 11 Alternatives to Spanking

  • […] Spank Out Day: 3 Untruths and 11 Alternatives to Spanking MudpieMama at Positive Parenting Connection breaks down 3 of the biggest myths about spanking and shares a list of effective gentler discipline alternatives. […]

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  • alec

    “Spanking does not need to enter the equation, not even as a last resort.”
    What if the child has a weapon?
    Or if he/she is hurting others without paying any attention to what people is saying to her/him.
    I find this view that spanking is always unacceptable ridicule, it is the morally equivalent to saying that spanking is always acceptable. Moral absolutism at its best, and more often than not spoken by people that have been lucky enough to have well behaved children.
    You think tantrums, biting and kicking are the worst 7 year old can do? There are many times when you have to stop the misbehavior in the moment not let it cool down unless you want to answer for your child assault charges.

    • Alec, what you write leads me to ask, where is the child getting a weapon from and what is happening in this child’s life that he finds the need to use a weapon? This is an extreme choice for a child to make and one that shows the child needs help. If a child had a weapon yes, he should be stopped, but it is not spanking that will stop him. Using violence and hitting will also not teach a child in this situation the right coping mechanisms or self regulation to deal with his behavior difficulties. Children that exhibit such aggression and difficulty with their emotions needs help and not to be further hurt. Any family that has such a situation with a child that is hurting himself,others or reaching for weapons should turn to their pediatrician, health provider, local authorities or counseling center for immediate assistance.

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