Response to Early Spanking Results

Statistics show that children who are spanked (for discipline) at age 12 months to 24 months old are more likely to behave aggressively and perform worse on cognitive tests as toddlers than children who are spared the use of spanking as a main form of discipline.

The results of this study and many others like it have sounded a strong recommendation to look upon the use of spanking in any form as being reckless or even abusive toward children.

However, in many of these same studies children who were spanked for discipline reasons after 24 months did not predict more aggressive behaviors as they got older.

It is my opinion along with many other professionals that during the first 18 months of a child’s development, it is important to lay the foundation for what lies before them in the parent/child relationship.  This foundation is 3 parts and to be prioritized according to their order.   

1. Our love and affection toward them.
2. Our authority over them as parents.
3. To train them.  

Due to their minimal cognitive abilities during these first 18 months I do believe using spanking as a form of discipline or punishment is not recommended and that is why these studies show these aggressive behaviors from these children.  By the time the children are 2 years old, their cognitive abilities have matured enough that a proper use of spanking has not shown any negative effects upon children.

Most of these studies I have read that concluded the use of spanking of any kind is wrong seem to leave out some very important factors or data that would also effect the child’s negative behaviors.

Some very important questions that needed to be answered that would bring better clarity to the reasons why children are manifesting negative behaviors or emotional problems as they got older are:
1) Is anger, raising your voice, or using unkind words part of the spanking, either before, during or after?  

 Knowing the frequency of this would affect the outcome or results of the child’s negative behaviors.  None of these attitudes or behaviors should be used toward any child at any time, especially when you are correcting them.

2) Are the rules clearly defined or are they changing and added to daily based upon the parents’ indiscretion at the moment?  

This is very confusing for children for many reasons.  Between the ages of 1 and 5 the four basic rules should be: Respect parents.  Come to us when we ask.  No or stop means just that.  No physical fighting, hitting, or biting of others.  If the rules are not defined, this introduces confusion and division between parents as a couple and also between parents and child.  This will also provoke most children to act out in negative behaviors.

3) Are disciplines and the form of punishments to be used predetermined and clearly understood by both parents and the children?  
When there is no predetermined plan for how you are going to respond to a child breaking a rule, then parents will be prone to allowing their emotions at the time to dictate how they respond or train their children when an opportunity arises.  Without this, it will promote negative responses from parents such as: anger, yelling, resentment, playing head games with children, divisions and arguments between parents and just as bad, NOT following through and using the "breaking the rule opportunity" to train or better said... to instill much needed character.

4) Do parents know the difference between discipline and punishment and how to use them properly?  
When parents are ignorant of what these words mean and how to implement them properly toward their children, this creates confusion, resentment, self worth issues in the hearts of our children.  The word ‘discipline’ means to train.  The word ‘punishment’ means a measured amount of pain to motivate.  Most parents are very confused over this and are sending the wrong message to their children every time they correct them.  
Here’s an example of how to use this properly.  The rule is: Respect Parents.  If a child breaks this rule by yelling at or hitting a parent, the predetermined discipline may be 3 minutes in a time out.  If the child refuses to accept the discipline of the time out, then they are asking for the punishment or ‘motivator’.  This behavior from the child is defiance and rebellion and the child needs to be lovingly and consistently motivated to yield to authority and accept discipline.  (NOTE: I do NOT recommend using spanking before the age of 18 months for discipline or punishment):

Today, most parents perceive discipline and punishment as the same thing and even tell their children that they are bad so they must be punished when they break a rule.  This is wrong.  Spanking done properly as a form of punishment for children 24 months to 5 or 6 years old will help the many strong-willed children to yield to authority and accept discipline.  Spanking should NEVER be used as discipline but ONLY as punishment if a child refuses to accept the discipline.  In my book Parenting is a Ministry, I cover this area in detail giving parents practical examples for written rules, proper disciplines and how to properly punish or motivate them to yield to your authority and accept the disciplines. See resources, Books, DVD, Audio, and other articles on website.  

If these areas of parenting are not part of the fact finding process, then you can not or should not accept any recommendation to not use spanking as part of your parenting and training up of your children.  I believe if a study was conducted on people between the age of 14 and 25 that were manifesting a lack of character in personal responsibility and self-control, you would find that most if not all did not receive proper and consistent discipline and punishment when needed by their parents. The results of this is costing our society in many ways, imprisonment, having children out of wedlock, abortions, our courts being overwhelmed with domestic violence, traffic violations, divorces, also drop outs from school, unable to keep a job and welfare.  These are only some of the social ills we are reaping do to poor and inconsistent training of children.  

If you would like to learn more about Craig F Caster's book on parenting and other resources he has please visit


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