It seems that many people think that spanking is a cure for every problem observed in a child. On the other hand, there are those who think that children should never be spanked. In my opinion, there are times when a spanking may be required; however, there are many other methods of discipline that should also be considered.

My observations lead me to believe that many parents who are quick to spank do so for some invalid reasons. Some will say, “That’s the way I was raised and it worked with me!” Others may spank simply because they feel they must do something and don’t know (or try to find out) anything else to do. Some may spank because it is quick and easy and they can convince themselves they have been a good parent because they corrected their child.

Children may not be like their parents and may not require the same discipline. They certainly live in a different environment with different temptations. In many cases, spanking a child simply does not work. As soon as the spanking is over, the child may forget and repeat the action. Unless a child decides in his/her own mind about right or wrong, that child will probably repeat the action. Discipline should lead to self-discipline. Telling is not teaching. We need to convince children of right and wrong by helping them understand the reasoning behind the rule.

If we don’t spank, what can we do? Teachers have been creative in discipline since spanking has been prohibited in most schools. One principal said that he carried his cell phone with him in a classroom and when he saw a child do something especially nice, he said, “You really did a good job! What is your dad’s cell phone number? I would like to call him and tell him what a good job you did!” He makes the calls on the spot so the class can hear what he says. He tells the dad what the child did. The child feels great, the dad feels great, and the whole class is thinking, “Maybe if I do a good job, someone will call my parents!” The whole class works harder and not only do they realize how easy it is to get a compliment, but in the back of their minds they realize how easy it would be for the teacher or principal to call the parents if they misbehave!

Something that would have a much more lasting effect than a spanking of an older student would be to require a parent to attend class with a son or daughter for a time if the student is unruly. The embarrassment would hurt far more than any spanking. Parents would probably have to come only a few times! Other students are sure to watch their steps so it doesn’t happen to them. Parents would really scold the child so they didn’t have to lose a day’s work again!

If we care enough for children, we will try to understand their behavior and tailor our discipline to their needs to change their thinking. We need to use any leverage we have such as taking away cell phones, car keys, restricting from activities, etc. We certainly should not think that one method of discipline fits every circumstance.