The Corporal Correction of Children – Part 4

The Corporal Correction of Children – Part 4

Posted in In line with Scripture

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

— Hebrews 12:11

Spank for the Child’s Best Good

Spanking deals immediately with the issue. Many readers would have seen the clip on TV with the cute little girl throwing a temper tantrum. She stops and tells the viewing audience that it is no fun when no one is paying any attention. This, then, is a sample of the kind of child-rearing advice given by our state agencies: ignore the child when they misbehave, as it is only a fun ploy to gain your attention. This advice contains basic conflicts of logic: the child wants your attention, so you are advised to ignore it; the behaviour is unacceptable, but again you are advised to ignore it; it is assumed the child is having some fun at your expense, when any observer can tell that children do not enjoy tantrums. It is typical of the kind of nonsense spoken by ivory tower types, who know nothing of full-time parenting.* And it totally fails to deal with the twin issues of unacceptable (sinful) behaviour and need for attention.

*(As a matter of fact, home educators are probably the only full-time parents in the country: everyone else unloads their children off to day care or kindy or school as soon as they can. Consequently most of them listen to these ivory tower types, for they know just as little themselves, only seeing their children in the mornings and evenings and a bit during the weekend. Come to think of it, we home educators surely have regained child-rearing wisdom and skills which must have been common knowledge prior to compulsory schooling, and we surely should be listened to, our opinion should be actively sought, by state policy-makers. Ah, but I have digressed.)

Facing the tantrum square-on as the manifestation of sinful foolishness that it is, giving a spanking to drive the foolishness out (according to Proverbs 22:15 remember) and using the Word of God as your guide in counselling afterwards, you deal with all the issues. The child’s need for attention is met with clear authoritative instruction…..the child usually has no idea why it threw the tantrum; it just came out. Your attention has been focussed on an area where your input is essential for the child’s growth in maturity and self-awareness and understanding. Another measure of foolishness has been driven from the child’s heart so that it is not allowed to take root and become an integral part of the child’s character. Best of all, you have yourself conformed your actions to the Word of God through your obedience to Scripture.

Spanking does so much good for the child and for you. Apart from the several advantages already mentioned, it restores the ruptured relationship which sin always causes. You don’t sweep it under the carpet where it will fester and become cancerous, you deal with it head-on. Ancient wisdom says the same: “Nip it in the bud,” “A stitch in time saves nine.” The air is cleared of the anger, guilt, mistrust, frustration and disappointment generated by the sin. A spanking completely settles the issue (although restitution, a separate issue, may be required). Sending the child to its room or grounding it or depriving of some privilege for a period of time is not dealing with the issue of sin: it is only allowing the rebellion to foment inside and saddles you with the extra burden of having to police this period of grounding or whatever, which also serves to negatively remind everyone of the misdeed all over again. Who needs these extra complications? A spanking allows everyone can get on with life.

Now, I am not saying there is no place for sending a child to its room for a period of time out, or for grounding or some other restriction. These can be great training tools in a parent’s child-rearing arsenal. One of our children was particularly responsive to even the threat of fining her for certain behaviours…the imposition of a $2 fine was to her particularly irksome.

Spank for Breaking the 4 “D”s

So the question arises, “When should one spank, and when should one use some other tactic?” Recall the foundational concept behind spanking: to drive the sinful foolishness out of the heart. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1). “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17 RSV) Sin in the camp is the parent’s cue to apply the rod. We’re not talking about childishness or accidents or being boistrous or hyperactivity….we’re talking about the manifestation of sinful, wrong and unacceptable behaviour.

Keep the rules simple and few. Your children will remember every careless rule you utter and may learn from your forgetfulness that you are not serious, that you are inconsistent, that you do not keep your word. We spank our children for breaking one of the four “D”s: Disobedience, Disrespect, Dishonesty, Destructiveness. Just about every wrong will fall into one or more of these categories. Ensure that the guilty party is aware of the rules before spanking for an infringement. Disrespect must be explained, examples given, and possibly you will need to take a child who has just been grossly disrespectful aside and explain to him his sin. This first explanation may not need a spanking for the child may have had no idea it was being disrespectful. In fact these days, with our current brand of humour which seems to appreciate insults given to one another with a smile, the child may have been demonstrating a very clever talent for emulating adult social behaviour observed in another context. (It may also say something about our need to review our own sense of humour!) And do not spank for childish mistakes or accidents. Our son was playing waiter by balancing heaping plates of spaghetti and meat sauce on his fingertips at shoulder height between kitchen and dining room, when he dropped one onto our brand new, light grey, $6000 carpet. It was an accident, not sin. The rod was not employed, but he sure worked hard to clean up the mess. Dishonesty is usually seen in stealing and lying. But the concepts of private property and truthfullness must first be explained, and this can take some time. Grab every opportunity to demonstrate: when the shop assistant gives you too much change, return it. When you find some lost property, hand it in. Exaggeration is not lying. Pulling a practical joke or trying to fool someone may be getting close to lying, so beware. But trying to shift blame onto someone else by telling a false tale is lying of the worst kind and cannot be tolerated. Dropping a crystal glass and breaking it is not Destructiveness….unless the child was told not to carry the glass or handle it in that way….then the child is guilty of Disobedience. But willfully throwing rocks through a window or putting a match to the sofa just to see what would happen is Destructiveness.

Spank in Private

Chastisement in public is humiliating, so avoid it if possible. In fact, you could be accused of child abuse by the self-appointed anti-spanking vigilantes these days, so by all means, be discreet. With our two-year-old we just need to say, “Are you being disobedient?” for him to behave in a public situation….he knows what the alternative is! For us a spanking is often a 10-15 minute process. We go to the bedroom, collect the spanking rod, then fully discuss the crime. I ask the child to identify which of the four Ds was broken and to explain why I have to spank rather than tongue lash or do something creative like give lollies. There is always an opportunity to plead extenuating circumstances, and if appropriate, no spank is given. After the spank there are cuddles and prayer, at which time the child is very open, teachable and receptive. Here is the time to reason with words of instruction and encouragement.

Now, it really is a hassle to drop whatever we’re doing to embark on this process. But as the Scripture says, “…it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”, and I reckon that includes the parents as well as the children! Remember, the object is to drive out the sin, restore the relationships spoiled by the sin, inculcate words of admonition and instruction, reaffirm your love and commitment, and get on with a life now more fully able to glorify God.

From Keystone Magazine
November 2000 , Vol. VI No. 6
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig