Question:

I have a question in relation to child training. My son is 14 and I have to occasionally give him a spanking. However, he has been getting in trouble with the same sin. He continues to defy his mom. I read your articles on the website in regards to using the rod. I usually use a belt with him bent over my knee on his jeans. I read your site and have decided to make some changes. My son is tall and I feel he is too big to have him bend over my knee. What position would you recommend he assume when he needs to be spanked. Also, how can I change with having him drop his pants when he is used to being spanked over his pants. I have switches from our back yard that I can utilize. I really feel in my heart that this needs to be addressed soon because of the effects on the other kids.

Answer:

Keep in mind that spanking is a punishment for wrongful behavior or displays of "attitude." It is not a cure unless it is accompanied by instruction in what is proper behavior. In order to correct your son's defiance, you need to determine what is behind it. That means sitting down and talking with the boy. You may learn what the problem is by such a simple question as "So why did you yell at your mother when she asked you to take out the trash?" Give the boy plenty of time to answer the question in his own words and in his own way. You might get the silent treatment for a while. If he tries giving "cop-out" replies, like "I don't know," then let him know that the answer wasn't an answer: "So how long have you been screaming for no reason?" or "If you don't know then how am I supposed to figure it out?" Don't give him clues as to what you suspect. Some children will take any way out as a way to get the "interrogation session" over with, even if it means lying. Keep in mind: "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). You might not like what you learn, but problems can't be dealt with by pretending they are not there. Keep your personal response under control.

Over the years, I've run into a variety of "reasons" adolescent boys become defiant with their mothers. Most often they have always been mildly defiant, but mom and dad overlooked it. Adolescence changes tend to cause moods to be amplified. A mild grumble session quickly turns into a full-blown temper tantrum. Where such is ignorable or dealt with by sending a child to his room, it is not ignorable in a semi-grown teenage boy. They don't realize their strength and they can cause damage or harm. It is best to handle the problem of defiance when a child is young, but it must still be dealt with if it remains present when he is a teenager.

Another reason is that some boys get a confused notion that "might makes right." I can't say for sure where the idea originates, but I've seen it most often in boys who have had little to no religious training at home. They are missing the concept that there is a standard of behavior that is bigger than they or their parents. Hence, they conclude that right or wrong is only determined by the person who can make them obey (parents, police, teachers, etc.). The result is that when an adolescent boy begins to tower over his mother and he realizes that he is stronger than she is, he gets the mistaken notion that she no longer has authority over him. You'll get comments such as: "You can't make me do it."

And then there is defiance that is born from frustration. Some parents do not give their children much choice in their day-to-day activities. An adolescent feels the budding of freedom's wings and he is itching to give them a try. He doesn't realize they are not fully developed and that he will make numerous mistakes. Some parents don't want to deal with mistakes, so everything is rigidly structured to avoid mistakes. There is a simple solution to this problem: give your adolescent several choices that you find tolerable, even if you feel some are not the best. For instance, instead of saying "Take out the trash now" tell your son "The trash needs to go out before dinner time." Now the scheduling problem becomes his burden, not yours. It also leads to a natural consequence: he doesn't eat until the trash goes out.

Try as you might, some children -- especially boys -- have a rebellious streak in them that must be dealt with. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). The Bible speaks of using a rod, or switch, to punish a child. It is not the only tool available to a parent. The Bible also speaks of delivering rebukes and giving instructions. A parent should try to make a child's wrongful actions lead to a reasonable and natural consequence that will serve as a deterrent. When a child reaches adolescence, I recommend that parents map out two punishments for the infraction. One should be related to the problem and should last a period of time. For instance, if your boy conveniently "forgot" he was supposed to mow the lawn, borrow an old manual mower -- the one with the rotary blades -- and calmly tell him that he will mow with that from the time you get home until dark, or until the lawn is finished, whichever comes first. When he is done, he can then have supper and he will then immediately retire to his bedroom for the night. Have him repeat this the next three times the lawn needs mowing. It will have good benefits -- he is going to get stronger pushing the old thing and he is going to learn endurance -- and he won't likely "forget" for a long while. The alternative is something short, but painful, such as a spanking. You then let him choose his punishment. Surprisingly, some boys rather get the punishment over with and will select the spanking.

Since you have been using a different method of punishing, before you have another breakdown, sit down with your family and have a Bible study on the topic of punishment. You can use one of the articles Parenting or Spanking on this website or use the list of verses in the Notes on Spanking to develop your own. Explain why you are going to switch methods and how it is going to be done upfront. Allow your children to ask all the questions they want; one of these days they are going to be parents as well. Then when the choice is given to your adolescent son, he knows in advance what he is agreeing to.

The reason for have a child bend over for a spanking is simple. This position causes the muscles in the gluteus maximus (the bottom) to tighten. It increases the sting of the switching, which in turn means you can use less force and fewer repetitions to accomplish a punishment. If having the boy bend over your lap is too awkward or too embarrassing, you can pick a neutral object, such as a chair or the edge of a bed. Even if he is very tall, he can bend over starting from a kneeling position. A child's natural inclination is to cover his bottom with his hands. Just calmly ask him to put his hands back down. If he refuses, have him remain in the bent-over position and tell him that the number of swats will be increased (say 2 to 5 swats). It might take a while, but he will eventually give in. Don't make the spanking into a wrestling session over who is stronger. One of these days he might get stronger than you.

Question:

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? 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.

Answer:

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 it is an offense repeated shortly after the previous one, you should consider adding five more with each repeat, up to a maximum. 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 concerns 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 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.

Question:

I thought I let you know how it went with my son. I took him aside in his bedroom and we reviewed what was to take place for his defiance. I told him to get ready for a spanking while I left to get the switch. When I returned we discussed how his rebellion was not going to take place without being addressed by correction with a spanking. I told him to lean over the bed. He refused and I told him I had all afternoon and the spanking was going to take place with the switch. It lasted over an hour before he agreed to submit to the spanking. I stayed calm during this difficult time. I also did a lot of silent praying. I took the switch and told him he would get fifteen swats with the switch. With the first swat, he let out a loud sound. I really think he thought he could just brush it off like the spankings he had in the past with my belt. After the seventh swat, he started to reach back to protect his bottom. I told him to place his hands back on the bed. He started to say through tears that it stung like worse than a bee sting. I said that was the point. He stood up but I told him to lay back down over the bed. I finished the swats and I put a few seconds between the last set of them. I let him cry it out and I returned later to assure him of my love and that all was forgiven. He told his younger brother that spankings in the past were nothing like getting a switch on your backside. I just wanted to say thank you and I know God has great things for our family. All we have to do is just follow where He leads. Thanks.

I had to give a second spanking to my son, but things slowly but surely will turn around. Biblical discipline works!

Answer:

I'm glad to hear that things are improving and that you are pleased with the initial results, though it is probably too soon to declare victory. I have three points that I would like you to keep in mind in the upcoming months.

First, you need to make sure you are consistent with your punishments. For example, since you are working on your son's defiance, you need to punish his defiance each time it happens. If you get lax and manage only to punish him, say 9 times out of 10, it is likely that he will develop a "gambler's" mentality. In other words, he'll start thinking, "Sure I get punished most of the time, but I might get away with it this time and it is worth it." I'm calling it a gambler's mentality because it is the same flawed logic that keeps people plugging money into slot machines thinking, "I've lost all these times, I'm bound to win shortly."

Being consistent is rough and tiring. There will be some point where your son will push the limits, repeatedly breaking the rules in seemingly rapid succession. Though he may not express it, it is a test of strength to see if he can wear you down. Fortunately, it doesn't last long, but you have to remain dispassionate and consistent in administering punishment for wrongful behavior.

The second will almost sound contradictory. There is a tendency to take something that works and apply it to every situation. It is the old cliche that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Yes, spanking is a very effective punishment, but if it is overused, it can be tolerated. Save it for major things or for violations where there is no other good alternative. Don't make spanking the consequence for every single step out of line. This is why I recommend giving teenagers a choice between two punishments: a longer one that is related to the problem and a shorter one that usually involves spanking. Then every infraction can be consistently punished but spanking won't be overused.

Finally, don't forget to balance punishment with encouragement. When your son does something right, praise him. If his mom asks him to do something and he immediately does it without back talk, give him a hug and tell him you're proud that he is making efforts at improving himself. With the combination, you will be amazed at how quickly things turn around.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email