How many swats is proper in a spanking?


Thank you very much for the counsel. I am always glad to have it, especially when it is backed up with Scripture.

I talked it over with my son. He keeps back-talking his mom, being disrespectful when she asks him to do things around the house, and not being at home when she needed him to watch his siblings. Those are the issues with which we are dealing. He said he would rather be disciplined with a spanking in the future. Well, the time has come for me to use the switch since it was agreed upon by his mom, him, and me. He has back-talked his mom in front of the kids and not completed tasks as asked.

Since it will be my first with the switch, how many swats do you recommend? He knows it will be with his pants down. I told him I would spank once I got some more guidance. He is old enough to retain the information until then.

Thanks for the help.


The number of swats will be dependent on several factors. A young child will not need much to get the point across. Often a single swat is enough. However, as a child grows their tolerance increases as well. You will find that more swats are needed to accomplish the same end.

The Scriptures do not say much about how many swats should be used, but the Old Testament did layout guidelines for the Israelites. For example, beatings with a rod weren't reserved only for children. Adults could be beaten, depending on the crime. "If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows. Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight" (Deuteronomy 25:1-3). Forty swats were the maximum allowed to be delivered to an adult. The maximum you give to your son would depend on his maturity.

Second, notice that the number of blows given was determined in accordance with the crime done. Jesus used the same concept in one of his parables: "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few" (Luke 12:47-48). You should determine in an impartial way what would be considered a major crime versus a minor one and set the number of swats accordingly. For instance, you may want to start at ten swats with a fourteen-year-old as the low-end for an offense that deserves a spanking. If the offense continues despite the spankings, you should consider adding five more, up to a maximum. You do not need to add swats for every repeat offense as the repeated application of the same punishment will be effective. You should also adjust the number of swats based on whether he acted (or didn't act) out of neglect or through willful defiance.

If you follow these general guidelines fairly, then you shouldn't have a concern that your punishment is too harsh. Many children, when they first receive a spanking with a rod, are quite startled that it hurts much more than they were expecting. Keep in mind this advice, "Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:13-14). In other words, don't make "on the fly" changes to the punishment; otherwise, the child learns that a big scene can lessen a stated punishment.

In the delivery of the swats, it is not the strength of the blows, but the sting that makes it an effective punishment. I would suggest spacing the blows out a few seconds between swats, otherwise the bottom is still numb from the previous blow when the next one is delivered. You want to make each one as effective as possible, so you can get by with the least needed.

Afterward, wait for your son to regain his composure and then let him know that you love him and hope that he will learn not to repeat his offense.

Afterward, you can gauge the effectiveness of the spanking. If he appears contrite, then it was enough. If he continues to be defiant, then you may need to start with a higher amount. Since you haven't been spanking your son in a long while, there is going to be an adjustment period for both of you. The first spanking will probably last for a while. The time between the second and third will probably be not nearly as long. Your son will test the limits to see if you really mean what you said, but eventually, he will settle down. One of the most effective means of child-rearing is the consistency in which parents are willing to fairly apply both encouragement and punishment.

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