Is Spanking OK??

These are not for disciplining children!

These are not for disciplining children!




It finally happened.  I instinctively spanked my three-year-old son with my cuchara.

ME!!  The one who always said “I will never spank my children because it’s wrong,” and “there are better ways of correcting bad behavior,” blah blah blah.  Well, on this particular day, I had my fill of whining, tugging, demanding, yelling, and flat out hitting from my little guy.  He really pushed all my buttons that day.  He pushed all of our buttons.  And then in a matter of seconds, it happened.

There I was making mac and cheese for lunch, boiling the pasta, when little man came up and (after a long day of trying my patience might I add), asked for “warm leche.”  Sister comes into the kitchen and begins to ask for something as well, but before she could finish her sentence he was already yelling at her saying, “I was talking to Mommy first!” and followed up with a blow to her body.

Well pshhh, that was the icing on the cake for me.  I turned around, wooden spoon in hand, and wackums!  His butt and my spoon became closer friends than they ever needed to be.

It startled him of course.  He cried and ran off to his room crying in devastation, calling out for Daddy.  Devastated!

He cried like I just disowned him or something!  Then I started to feel bad.  Real bad.  Like I had been jabbed in the heart bad.  Because I knew it was the wrong thing to do.

I quickly began feeling like the worst mother on the planet.  My brain started running different scenarios in my head about how I could have, or should have handled that.  But, he hit her!  For like the third or fourth time that day!! So I hit him back. Correction…I spanked him for hitting her.

After consoling him, apologizing, and reiterating why I reacted the way I did, we moved on.

A few minutes later as I was finishing up the mac and cheese, I started thinking about the irony of it all.

  1. I just did what I always said I would never do.
  2. That one moment was a direct reflection of the same reaction we used to experience as kids from our Tia’s.  It was always either a cuchara (cooking spoon) or chancla (sandal).
  3. I’m supposed to be an expert in Early Childhood Development.  It has been my profession for over 14 years now.  Surely I must have some solid knowledge and expertise under my belt to be able to handle this sort of situation the right way, right?
  4. I just modeled the exact same behavior I punished him for.  What kind of example am I setting here?

So then I thought about all those cliche’s about “Mexican Moms be like…te voy a dar la chancla!” when their children misbehave. We grew up hearing about it, witnessing it, personally being thrown a chancla at some point in our youth; So why does it bother me so much?  Well, because it’s  WRONG!

Maybe this is something you are okay with in your home, maybe not.  This guy and his Mama for instance think it is.  Back in the day it was a normal thing.  Growing up it wasn’t uncommon to see one or two aunts throwing a chancla (sandal) at one of us from across the room.  Some of us got spanked with the chancla in fact.  A few were spanked with the belt. Whatever the case may be, I can promise you, there are many families that still discipline this way.  To each his own I always say, but in my professional opinion, it’s completely unnecessary.  What typically happens is either they will fear you and hide things from you when they are older, or become so immune to the chancla or cuchara, or belt, that it will become a joke to them.  Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.

By the way, the purpose of this post is not to preach or judge anyone on how they raise their children, but I do have an obligation to speak up for young children. So on their behalf,  hear me out before any of you consider cranking back that arm with said object in hand, about ready to lay down a woopin’.

Think about what it is you’re actually feeling in that moment when you are about to spank or hit your child.  Angry, frustrated,  tired,  anxious?  You’ll probably be feeling some of these, if not all of them.  Am I right, or am I wrong?  For me, I can say that I was feeling angry and frustrated.  Even though it was just a swing at his bottom with a spoon, my actions defeat the purpose of the lesson that it is not right to hit others.  Just because I’m upset, does not give me – or anyone else for that matter –  the right to hurt people.  Especially children.  This type of reaction sends out a very strong message to young children.  That it is socially acceptable to hit someone out of anger.  Is that what we want to teach our children? I know I don’t.

Remember, you are their pillar, their home, their strength, the only one they can count on to protect them.  You are responsible for helping them grow into strong, confident, well-rounded respectful adults that can trust and confide in you.  Physical aggression toward a child cannot guarantee this outcome.  There are so many variables that lead up to a child misbehaving.  Spanking, for the most part, doesn’t solve any of those problems.  Instead, why not help them work through their problems?  Talk it out.  Let them know how you’re feeling too!  Encourage them to speak their mind about how they are feeling.  The older they get, the more complicated their problems will become.  Teach them while they are young how to control their bodies, communicate, and speak up for themselves.  Not to hit out of anger.

There is plenty of help out there.  Below is a list of resources on parenting and positive discipline that might be helpful.

Positive Parenting Solutions



by Stephanie Chavez

Author & Content Creator for Spanglish Spoon.

  1. Rachelle

    This is such a brave post, Stephanie. I’m not into spanking either, but I know how young children can push our buttons. The best thing to do after we go too far, and it can happen to anyone, is exactly what you did…take a deep breath and apologize. What a great lesson to teach your child that you are not perfect and that we can all be sincerely sorry for a actions we’re not proud of.

  2. Eden

    You’re so brave to share your experience! Thank you for sharing. I agree with you that violence should not be used to stop a behavior and completely understand/empathize with how you must have felt at that moment. I always told myself I would never raise my voice or be short with a child and there are days where I find that so hard to practice (I have to take many deep breaths, which oddly enough when my daughter sees diffuses the situation). I wouldn’t beat yourself up about one incident where you slipped, regardless of training/experience we’re all human.

    Growing up my parents only spanked me once and it was the result of an ultimatum that I pushed just to see if they’d do it. I felt absolutely horrible afterwards for doing that to my dad (I was 12 at the time). I remember we all sat down to discuss what had happened and how we could avoid finding ourselves in that situation again. It wasn’t the spanking that changed my behavior, it was the sitting down afterwards, all forgiving, and problem solving that did.

    The one instance of physical aggression as punishment in my childhood was at the hands of my maternal grandmother. I wasn’t washing my hands fast enough and she backhanded me across the face (there may have been something leading up to the hand washing that pushed her buttons but I don’t remember; I was 8). She never apologized (it was how kids were raised in Italian households or so she said), and my mom and her didn’t talk for a very long time. Unlike the incident with my parents we never discussed this so I learned nothing from it–I had no context to why she may have been upset with me. (I did stop washing my hands for awhile and that drove my mom crazy!) To this day, I still cannot stand to be around my maternal grandmother and for years afterwards when we had to go to her house I would get physically sick. She’s actually only seen my daughter once and will NEVER be left alone with her.

    Because of my two experiences, I don’t think spanking is ok. And, I sincerely hope I never issue an ultimatum to my daughter where spanking is a threat.

    • Stephanie Chavez

      Eden, that is exactly my point! Sitting down, forgiving, talking, problem solving – that is more likely to prevent a bad behavior from happening again. In my case, my little guy (who is persistent, and strong-willed) is only three, so we still have to do a lot of reminding, lol. Ignoring it is definitely not helpful in any situation. The fact that you still haven’t forgotten that one incident with your Grandmother when you were 8, is proof. Thank you for sharing these great examples!

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