Parents Can Always Choose an Alternative to Spanking

April 30th is National Spank Out Day.  Since this site is dedicated to providing positive, peaceful, playful and non punitive  information for families to grow together and thrive today I’m sharing some thoughts on why Spanking does not need to be a parenting tool.
alternative to spanking

The true aim of parental discipline is to teach and guide a child and show them what is right and what is wrong.  When we hurt our children by spanking them, we are not modeling positive ways to handle challenges or difficult emotions. No matter the situation, I believe as parents we can always choose an alternative to spanking.

Although most parents will reach a point of exasperation, feel at a loss of what to do, or simply follow what they experienced as a child, there truly is always an alternative to hitting, swatting or spanking a child.  Does spanking happen a lot? Yes, it does. Do parents tell themselves it is justified? Sure.  But, really and truly there is always an alternative to spanking.  Even if we cannot see it, in that moment of fury, disappointment or despair, the alternatives are there.

Maybe when you get really frustrated, you cannot see any possible alternative, and I get that. I’ve been in that red zone of total fear and anger before.  When I get really frustrated, I try to remind myself that this whole parenting stuff is a process, things cannot possibly be solved with one swat or spanking. There simply isn’t a quick fix or a magic solution.


Some may say a child will never learn life’s lessons unless they are spanked. Children are smart and capable and learn hundreds of things without punishments.


Babies spend somewhere between 12 and 16 months learning to walk. They find their feet, they learn to roll, they pull up to a standing…it’s a process.  Learning about right from wrong, boundaries, social skills, language…it’s just like that, it’s a process. As parents we can accompany our children, give them guidance and model the way.


Parenting with positive tools and peacefulness can be amazing but isn’t always easy, that is true. It takes patience, waiting, lots and lots of  more patience. It takes the willingness to learn about alternatives and figuring out our own emotions. Inevitably while parenting, there will be trials, errors, there will be disappointment, sadness, happiness, frustration…for ourselves and our children.  But spanking, punitive “quick” fixes, lead to a lot of long term problems like a broken relationship, low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, sadness, deceit and more.


If you are considering spanking your child,  what would happen if the next time you are headed in that direction you ask yourself:
  • Is it worth the stress on our relationship?
  • Would I really want my child to feel so sad, so hurt, so humiliated?
  • What is my reason for spanking? Is it to teach a lesson? What lesson am I really teaching by inflicting pain?
  • Can I choose to teach my child in a different way?
  • Can I trust that my child is able to learn and I can guide the way?
  • Can I choose peace, can I choose kindness?
 When I feel so overwhelmed, I remind myself that I have choices, I can:
  •  show respect
  • model what I expect in return
  •  keep my hands to myself
  • count to 100
  • choose other ways to handle my frustrations
  • speak with empathy and understanding
  •  take a break and cool off
  • find someone to help me
  • remember a silly moment
  • walk away
By doing that, I am showing my child real life skills. Skills that she can take with her for life to use anywhere under any circumstance.


As parents, we get to make lots of choices, choosing not to spank can be one of them. It’s true, we have this huge job of teaching our children life lessons, so If we must teach a lesson to our children, why not choose to teach a lesson of love, compassion and understanding?


Our children will make mistakes, they may make bad choices. We probably will too…that is ok, we don’t have to be perfect BUT we can strive and decide to make better choices!  We can lead the way, we can ask for forgiveness, forgive, look for alternatives, provide solutions and most of all, we can be the safe and trusted placed our children need us to be.


So, no matter what your reason might be for considering hurting your child,  please remember that as parents we can always make choices and look for alternatives to spanking.
Peace & Be Well,
Additional Resources:
PsychCentral, World of Psychology Why you shouldn’t spank your kids? 9 Reasons.
Skip Spanking & Avoid Power Struggles at She Knows: Parenting
Positive Discipline  why not to Spank your Child
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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 Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, and one cuddly dog.

2 Responses to Parents Can Always Choose an Alternative to Spanking

  1. What do you say when a friend tells you they have smacked their child in a way that indicates they think that is the right way to handle that kind of situation (in her case it was her daughter getting out of her new big girl bed and she smacked her on the hand several times before the behaviour stopped)? I didn’t know what to say – I didn’t feel comfortable asking her why she felt the need to smack and couldn’t just take her daughter back to bed each time without it. It distressed me, not just because she was smacking, but also because she seems like a pretty calm parent and not someone I would have picked to think smacking is okay. Any advice on how to handle that type of conversation in future? Thanks.

  2. Hi Heather, sometimes it’s hard to find a good way to address parenting differences but if you are truly and genuinely concerned for your friend and her child I think in your shoes I would approach it by stating my genuine intentions of care and concern. Perhaps address it by letting the friend know that you were surprised to hear about her choice and would she like to talk about it, afterall parenting and discipline can be tough, having someone to listen to or bounce off ideas could be helpful to both of you and so on…I’ve let a friend know before “gosh i felt like doing something like spanking was my only choice but I ended up finding an alternative and I am so glad.” that really opened the door for us to have a great conversation about it in a friendly way.

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