How To Stop Spanking Your Child

Quitting spanking is possible.  How often you spank your child, the reasons for which you spank, whether your parents spanked you and how entrenched your belief system and self-talk is in spanking are some determining factors for the level of difficulty you will have with stopping spanking.  Whatever it takes for you to stop spanking, I urge you to do the work.  Surprisingly, when I share how to stop spanking your child, you’ll find that spanking is not about your child but about your own self-control. 

Are you up for the challenge?

Dictionaries define spanking as hitting, striking, and smacking.  Sit with yourself for a bit and think back to the times you hit your child. I truly believe while you reflect, a piece of you feels something isn’t right about your actions.

Research shows spanking has multiple long-term negative effects that are not worth the short-term fix that spanking gives.  If you are unaware of the effects spanking can have on your child, I encourage you to read 10 Reasons to Stop Spanking That Are Backed By Research.

After deciding to quit spanking, it took my husband and me 3 months to stop.  It floored me it took this long.  After a while, it literally scared me.  The awareness of the fact that I could not go cold turkey on this spanking deal, made me realize how much self-control I lacked in the area. While surveying other parents who stopped spanking, they had the same experience.  Just know, quitting is a process.



This post contains steps and tips to help a parent who is currently spanking their child to stop spanking along with what you can expect when quitting. #howtostopspanking #parentingadvice #whyshouldiquitspanking #howcanistopspankingmychild



Please Use My Experience and Research

Being vulnerable about this topic pains me greatly, and honestly, I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I ever hit my child.  I share because I want to give you hope that you can quit.  Don’t give up on yourself. If my vulnerability spares one family from the effects of spanking, it is worth it.

After much research, I figured out what I needed to do to stay in control of myself.  I have gone back and identified how I finally stopped spanking my child.  These are the steps and this is the information I wish I had when I stopped spanking. 

According to psychologists, the key to properly managing your anger is to distance yourself physically and emotionally from the situation and get control of your negative thoughts that are dominating the situation.  Eventually, replace the negative thoughts with new thoughts, so the old dialogue no longer plays.

How To Stop Spanking Your Child

#1.  Promise yourself that no matter what your child does, you will NOT spank.  No exceptions!

  • Do not break this promise to yourself.
  • Make a commitment to do whatever you have to do with yourself to get through the anger and fear.
  • Get an accountability partner.  Tell them your plan to stop spanking and you will need them to be someone you can lean on during the first couple of months.
  • In the beginning, do not worry about the consequences you give your child for their behavior.  Just focus on not spanking.  Your main priority right now is to rewire your brain. When your first instinct is no longer spanking, then you can think about the consequences you will use instead of spanking.
  • Switch your mindset about behavior.  If your focus is on obedience, then you use fear and force to get it.  If your focus is on raising a child who does right whether your present or not, then you use connection, coaching, and empathy. 
  • Have a discussion with your partner and come to an agreement about spanking.  If they will not agree, you will have to decide how important the topic is to you.  You can still quit.

#2.  When you get triggered, drop what you’re doing and remove yourself from the situation. 

Sidenote:  You need not leave the room unless it would be best for you and your child.  Just make sure you are at a viewing distance from which you can’t hit your child.

  • While you are removing yourself, say nothing damaging to the child and don’t raise your voice. 
  • You can respectfully say at an appropriate volume before you go:
    • I need to think about how I will handle this.  I will take a moment to calm down now.”
    • It’s hard for me to believe you pushed your brother down after we have discussed how you should treat him.  I need to think about your behavior, and we will discuss it later when I have calmed down. In the meantime, I expect you to treat him with nothing but love.
    • “I need some time to think.  I don’t want to say or do anything I will regret.  In the meantime, I need you to sit on the love seat until I tell you otherwise.”
    • “I am too mad right now to talk about this.  I’m taking 5 minutes.  While I’m doing that, you will be on your absolute best behavior.”
  • The important thing about anger is not to act while you’re angry.
  • Notice your thoughts.  When you make yourself aware of your feelings and emotions, you are one step closer to managing them.
  • Breathe.  In through the nose, count to 3, out through the mouth, slowly. Again.

#3.  Have a plan of what you will do while you gain control of your emotions.

  • Some options and ideas for releasing fear and anger:
    • Shake your hands out.
    • Hug yourself by wrapping your arms around yourself and trying to reach your shoulder blades.
    • Splash cool water on your face.
    • Exercise.
    • Put on music and dance.
    • Look at a baby picture of your child.
    • Stretch.
    • Imagine yourself hugging your child. 
  • **Your job is to feel the anger, fear, sadness or disappointment but not act on it.  This does not mean you don’t have a right to feelings or that they are not important.  It means you are in control of how you react to your emotions.  You are teaching your child a more important lesson than you would have had you stayed on the scene.  You are modeling self-control.  High-Five!


#4.  Decide what and how you need to think when you remove yourself.

Anger is an emotion that hijacks your thoughts, words, and actions.  If you continue to think aggressive thought after aggressive thought, the anger will turn into rage.  Therefore, have a plan to replace the angry thoughts.  Use mantras, affirmations, and Bible verses to change your hostile mindset to a healthy mindset.

You can say these aloud.  It is fine for your child to hear you.  You are modeling what it takes to have self-control.

Here are a few of my faves:

  • This is not an emergency.
  • (Child’s Name) is not my enemy.
  • Only love today.
  • (Child’s Name) needs my love most when he is at his worst.
  • I won’t take this personally.  This is not about me.
  • I can handle this with dignity.
  • How do I want (Child’s Name) to remember me 15 years from now?
  • I will love (Child’s Name) unconditionally.
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13
  • Name all the things you love about the child.
  • I can quit spanking!
  • (Child’s Name) is acting like a child because he is a child.
  • How does (Child’s Name) see this situation?
  • My triggers will not control me.
  • What does (Child’s Name) need of me right now?

**Repeat Steps 2-4 until you know you are calm.

How do you know you are calm?:

  • Your breathing has slowed. 
  • Your muscles have relaxed.
  • You have positive thoughts about your child. 
  • Your child is not your enemy.
  • You can talk to your child about changing the behavior without shaming them or raising your voice.


#5.  Take a moment to see the situation from your child’s perspective and reflect on what happened.

  • Just know, research shows that very few parents take time to make a plan and reflect on their actions.  Most are reacting and responding off the cuff.  You are taking your parenting to the next level.  This should feel good.  Your child is blessed to have you.
  • All behavior is communication.  What could cause your child to behave in this manner?
  • How does (Child’s Name) feel?  How can  I help my child with their feelings?  They can not learn from you while they are feeling angry or anxious.  It is best for everyone to get to calmness before you discuss the inappropriate behavior.


This post contains steps and tips to help a parent who is currently spanking their child to stop spanking along with what you can expect when quitting. #howtostopspanking #parentingadvice #whyshouldiquitspanking #howcanistopspankingmychild


#6. Keep a list of behaviors that are triggering you.

  • You will want to reflect on your list in your downtime or alone time.
  • Here is a list of questions to consider about these triggers:
    • What was I thinking about previous to the behavior that triggered me? negative or positive thoughts?  
    • What was I doing when the misbehavior occurred? 
    • How will I use natural or logical consequences?
    • What language did I use when the incident occurred? What will I say next time? The same or different.
    • What will I say to (Child’s Name) about his behavior?  How will I teach or model a new behavior?  How can I get his input on coming up with a better plan if the incident occurs again?
  • Start to create a plan of how you will respond the next time you are triggered.


The Challenges To Expect When You Stop Spanking

  • If you have used spanking as a punishment for quite some time, you may feel that your kids are getting away with too much or your consequences aren’t harsh enough.  You may have fear you will raise a hellion! These are the thoughts that need replacing.
  • Prepare yourself. There’s a good chance things will get worse before they get better.  The human brain prefers the familiar over the nonfamiliar.  No spanking is new for your child.  The brain would prefer being hit over recalibrating.  Scary right!  
  • Most children have a lot of emotions pinned up from the spanking, and they now feel safer to release them.  It is not uncommon to experience crying and fits for a bit.  Don’t mistake this as “a child who doesn’t get spanked goes nuts”.  Give empathy and patience.
  • Unfortunately, if you come from a family who spanks, prepare for them to give their opinion about your decision.  Especially when your child acts like a child.  Nevertheless, do not give in and hit your child because of pressure from others.  Furthermore, in the beginning months of quitting spanking, it is best to limit your time spent with those who think you need to spank.
  • Ultimately, it is harder work to think of ways to teach your child through loving guidance instead of controlling them through spanking.  If you spank out of anger and rage, it is even harder work to retrain your brain and hand.  Not spanking is definitely taking the high road. The benefits and personal development are positively endless!
  • You may fall off of the wagon and spank.  It took Chris and me 3 months to stop spanking.  You can track your progress on a calendar.  Give yourself a check for each day you don’t spank.  Try to go further each time.  If you fall off the wagon, do not give up.  Tomorrow is a new day.  A year from now, you won’t believe you were ever a spanker.


The Benefits of Quitting Spanking

  • The parent-child relationship, bond, and connection strengthens.
  • Your child is not behaving out of fear.
  • Your child expresses their emotions.
  • You teach your child how you expect them to behave.  
  • You model self-control for your child.
  • Your child does not feel the need to lie or sneak.
  • Your children will be more emotionally intelligent.
  • The child will not grow up believing that people who love you hit you or vice versa.


Call to Action

Nowhere in this article did I say it was going to be easy to quit spanking which is another proof that spanking is not about the child. Obviously, it is about the parent blowing off steam.  Therefore, it is worth every ounce of your effort, energy, and personal development to create a family culture that does not use corporal punishment.  When your children are grown, do you want them to remember how you spanked them to enforce obedience? Or would you rather them remember how you loved them through the hard times and modeled and taught them the behavior you desired.


Get Support To Stop Spanking

If you would like some support in quitting spanking, email me at [email protected]  Let’s get on the phone and see if I am a fit for you.  Sometimes we are better at things when we do them together.  Remember, it is stronger to ask for help than to do nothing.


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Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!  Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS


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To Spank or Not to Spank? The Decision We Made and How We Made It

My Roots in Spanking

Spanking has always been something that I accepted as a way to raise a kid because that’s what the people I grew up around did.  It’s just the way it was. My aunts and uncles spanked our cousins. The public school I attended gave “pops”.  Most people in our community thought nothing of it. 

“He needs his a**whooped”, was common to hear amongst parents from our community. Sometimes that statement was milder, sometimes it was harsher, but it was the norm.  Parents took off their belt and popped it, asking, “Who wants it first?”  You knew to straighten up or else. Few questioned: To Spank or Not to Spank? in my life.

A Friend’s Story

I remember in high school, my best friend told me her parents never spanked her.  I made a big deal about it at the lunch table, and I shared what she told me.  No one could believe it.  We wanted to know how she got punished. 

Later,  I even asked her parents about it.  Her mom said they spanked their other children some, but by the time their last child came, they found it unnecessary. She turned out just as good as the rest of us who got spanked. I share this story because I cringe at how big of a deal I made that they had never hit her.

I Question Spanking

The older I got, the more I started to question it.  I went back and forth.  I would cringe about it, but when I was somewhere and a kid was acting up, my immediate thought was that the kid needed a spanking.

I’ve thought back to my spankings, and I contemplated whether they benefitted me.  I’m not sure, but I know that sometimes I wasn’t doing right because it was right. I  did right out of fear.  When caught doing something wrong, I was dead set on convincing my innocent.  I got sneakier and would most often break rules when out of my parents’ company. 


The Verses Christians Look To

The Bible says:

  1. Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Proverbs 23:13-14
  2. Whoever does not discipline his son hates him, but whoever loves him is diligent to correct him.Proverbs 13:24 
  3. A child’s heart has a tendency to do wrong, but the rod of discipline removes it far away from him. Proverbs 22:15
  4. Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.Proverbs 22:6  


I studied the Bible Dictionaries, and the main use for the definition of a rod in these contexts is “a figure used for punishment.”  I continue to pray that I can discern what I am supposed to do. God knows my heart.

Articles I took into consideration:

The Biblical Approach to Spanking:

5 Myths of Biblical Spanking:


Beginning Decisions

When I became pregnant, Chris and I had several conversations about our thoughts on spanking.  We finally decided that we would spank for safety reasons such as if the kid ran out into the street, if we had to keep repeating ourselves, and a few other reasons, but we didn’t want it to be our go-to disciplinary action.


Our Family Experience With Spanking

Fast forward, Jock started to walk and pull-up, and he got into things.  I told him no several times, and then if he didn’t listen, I swatted his hand.  He cried like I broke his arm.  The guilt I felt was tremendous.  I had several conversations with family members who spanked, and they assured me that there would be guilt.  They also told me it hurt me more than it hurt him, so don’t worry so much.

As Jock got older, the disobedience became brow-raising at times, and eventually, I spanked his bottom as did his father.  The behaviors I spanked for continued.  Momentarily they stopped, but after a day or two, they reoccurred and sometimes worse.


Our Conscience

From the first time I spanked, it overcame me with such guilt it was nauseating.  It led to sleeplessness.  Just the thought of hitting this human I loved unconditionally was not resonating well with my mama soul. The drama spanking brought to the situation was not the answer I was looking for.

Each time I would spank, I would bring up the guilt to Chris.  Each time he spanked, he would bring up the guilt to me.  We would be up at night questioning if it was the right thing to do, and each time the conversation pretty much ended in, “Yeah, but how are we going to get him to obey?”


Spanking Research

Like most topics Chris and I questioned, I started to Google, and what I found out about spanking alarmed me.  I became more startled when I realized how I automatically believed something was OK because those around me partake in it. I also found in many articles that Southerners spank more often than any other part of the United States.


Related:  10 Reasons to Stop Spanking That Are Backed By Research


frontal cortex development -Our decision to quit spanking


Another fact I took into consideration and the driving force behind me trying to quit spanking was and is the facts about the frontal cortex. 

Read:  7 Facts About Your Child’s Prefrontal Cortex That Are Game Changers




For starters, the frontal cortex finishes developing around 25 years of age.  I hoped to read around age 40, so I had an excuse for some of my pathetic choices. 

When do parents spank the most? When the decision part of our brain is the least developed, ages 3-6, and in the evening time when children get tired.  Getting educated on the frontal cortex opened my eyes to the reasons behind some of my son’s misbehavior and the bad decision making. Knowing what children are up against with development and our expectations makes it easier to feel empathy instead of anger.


Our Decision to Quit Spanking

I approached Chris with everything I read.  At first, he was hesitant, but we eventually decided that we would not spank.  This would be a bigger challenge for me since I was the one staying at home with Jock all day.  We made a plan of what to do when he misbehaved, and we began to put it into action.



To Spank or Not to Spank?Our decision to quit spanking

The articles I used when I approached Chris:

Sadly-It Was NOT Easy to Quit

This was not, and is not at all easy.  I am ashamed to say just how hard it was to not spank.  Jock was averaging at least one spanking a week.  From the start, either Chris or I broke our word at least 3 times a month for the first three or four months.  Then it went down to once a month.  Then maybe every other.

At one point we went for three months, and then I spanked.  The guilt I felt afterward was immense because I broke Jock’s trust. I told him I would quit. 

I am grateful to say that it has been almost 3 years since Jock has had a spanking.  

Our youngest, Luke, has never been spanked. When we come upon a negative scenario, and we ask, “Who did this?”  Luke never hesitates to tell us what he has done.  Jock rarely admits his misbehaviors.  Is this a personality difference or is it a scared of the consequences difference?  I often wonder.

Related:  How to Stop Spanking Your Child

Asking for Forgiveness

Almost a year ago, I was having a conversation with Jock, and I said, “You seem so angry with me.  Why is that?  What did Mom do to make you so angry?”  His response was, “When we used to live at the other house, you would spank me.”  Mind you, it had been over a year!  I said, “I talked to you about spanking, and I asked you for forgiveness.”  He said, “I’m not ready to forgive you, Mom.” 

This killed me, but I didn’t blame him.  I hadn’t forgiven myself. It bugged me for about 2 days, and what really bugged me is how his little 3-year-old self-didn’t skip a beat before answering.  He did not have to think for a second why he was angry with me.  I had a further conversation with him. 

The next morning after our good morning routine I began, “Jock I want to talk to you about something because it is bothering me.”  He asked, “What Mom?”  I went back through what he told me about spanking and not forgiving me. 

I continued, “I want to say again that I am so sorry for spanking you.  The people I grew up with spanked, so I did it too.  It didn’t feel good when I did it, so I read about it.  I learned that there are many alternatives to spanking kids, and Dad and I decided we would not spank our kids.  Can you please forgive me?”



He smiled, “I forgive you, Mom.  It’s OK.”  I responded, “No, it’s not OK.  I think it was wrong, but I really appreciate you forgiving me.  Please give me a second chance.”  He said, “I will Mom.”  I just squeezed him, and I still thank God for his preciousness and grace toward me. 


To Spank or Not to Spank?Our decision to quit spanking

Not to Spank Was the Right Decision for Us

I am so thankful to say, “I am Shelly, and I am a recovering spanker.”  I hope this skeleton never comes out of my closet.  I admit on hard days of extreme misbehavior that skeleton yanks and twists on the knob of that locked closet door.

Is every day peachy?  No, but it wasn’t when I was spanking either.  In fact, it was more chaotic and dramatic. 

Of all the bad habits I’ve recovered from, it wasn’t the hardest to quit, but it’s the one I’m most proud of quitting. I pray it pays off.  If the kids turn out hellions, the spankers can say, “You know she didn’t spank those boys! She should have spanked!”

I do not write this article to sway you one way or the other or judge what you choose.  I wanted to share my experience, my research, and the above articles and websites just in case there is a reader who feels like I was feeling.  If someone takes something from our experience and turns it into something positive for their family, goal achieved!



If you would like some support in quitting spanking, email me at [email protected]  Seriously, let’s get on the phone and see how I can make this easier for your family.  We are better at things when we do them together and feel supported.  Remember, it is stronger to ask for help than to do nothing.


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Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!  Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS



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