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PARENTS: To Spank or Not To Spank?

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

When it comes to disciplining our children, remember God is always our example. Proverbs 29:17 says “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Proverbs 10:17 says “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” Ephesians 6:4 says “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

What is Discipline?

What is discipline? Discipline is a measured amount of pain in association with something that your child did wrong. Discipline is used for training, teaching, and correcting. You can use a wide variety of tools to discipline your child such as taking time out, taking away privileges, teaching consequences, ignoring mild misbehavior, using logical consequences, using natural consequences, rewarding good behavior, praising good behavior and more.

Remember, there is a big difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment is about getting even. God uses discipline to help grow us to become better people. Be sure you know the difference when disciplining your children.

What is Spanking?

So what is spanking? Disciplinary spanking is a physically non-injurious form of discipline intended to help modify behavior. On the other hand though, physical abuse is a deliberate injury inflicted by a parent or caregiver to hurt the child. Physical abuse is never justified by a parent.

Proverbs 22:15 says “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.” Proverbs 13:24 says "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” As you can see, the Bible is clear that spanking is an acceptable form of discipline.

Like I said earlier, spanking is not the only tool of discipline in your parenting tool box and it should be used sparingly. When you do use it sparingly, it will give this form of discipline a little more emphasis. So don’t use spanking all the time or it will lose its effectiveness and will not be good for your child.

I would consider spanking as your last resort in your parenting toolbox. You’ve tried this tool and you’ve tried that tool to change your child’s behavior, but they are not responding to your discipline. Sometimes you need to give your child a wake up call by giving them a spank. But remember, always spank out of love to modify a child’s behavior, never, ever out of anger.

One reason parents shy away from spanking is because they don’t have a good understanding of what it is. My hope is that you’ll have a better understanding after reading this post.

When the verse says 'rod', what is the Bible talking about? It does seem that they are talking about a stick or other inanimate object. The Bible is not clear on what though. The Bible is clear that there is an appropriate use of physical pain when disciplining our children.

Some parents will use a spoon or a ruler. Other parents might use their hand so that they can measure how much pain is being applied to their child by the pain in their hand.

When to Start Spanking?

When do you start spanking? You could start when you ask your child not to do something, they heard you and understand what you want but they ignore you and do it anyway. For example, a child is about to put their finger in a light socket and you say “No” and they look at you and do it anyway. This could be anytime around 12 to 18 months old and up.

Strategies for Spanking. . .

Below are some strategies for spanking. . .

1. Some experts say that if you do spank, you should do it somewhere between the ages of 1 year to 9-10 years old. But it really depends on your child and their response to this form of discipline. I quit spanking my children around 5-7 years old.

2. Have a conversation with your child and explain what spanking is ahead of time. It shouldn’t be a surprise or something that comes from out of the blue. They should already know what it is and why you might use it.

3. Never, ever, ever spank when angry, upset or in a rage.

4. If you are angry or upset, please take time to get yourself together and pray for patience and peace.

Note: When you spank in anger, you’re showing your child a lack of self-control, the very thing that you’re trying to teach your children not to do.

5. Pray for wisdom and discernment before you spank.

6. Get at eye level with your child while communicating.

7. Communicate love continually throughout the process.

8. Explain the offense to your child and what they did to deserve a spanking.

9. Help your child understand what they did wrong and why they are being spanked.

10. Explain why you are going to spank them. You’re trying to train and teach them that they can’t do a negative behavior any longer.

11. Administer punishment on the bottom or fatty part of thigh. It should sting but NEVER leave a mark.

12. Pray together and ask for forgiveness from God.

13. Hold them and reassure them that you love them and that’s why your are disciplining them.

14. There should be a time of restoration. Give them an opportunity to go to the person that they wronged and make it right by asking for forgiveness.

15. Now that the situation is over, there should be no shaming, threatening, or nagging. It’s done and over.

A Word of Warning:

Some parents should never spank. For example, if you come from an abusive situation, you should not spank. If you feel any hesitation about spanking, I would be cautious about spanking.


When we mess up as parents and we will, we need to go to our children and ask them for forgiveness. We need to model forgiveness to our children and always point them to a vertical relationship with Jesus.

Newly Adopted Parents, Foster Parents or Step Parents:

You should never spank. Why? Because your goal is to work on building a relationship with your new child. You’re trying to build a bond of trust. The biological parent should be the one to administer discipline when in a blended family situation.

Remember, spanking is just one of many disciplinary tools you can use to disciple your children. Also be sure to catch your children doing something right on a regular basis and let them know it. It’s so easy as parents to say ‘no’, ‘no’, ‘no’ all the time. Please read my post called the Family Emotional Bank Account by clicking here to learn more.

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