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Plain Truth Magazine
February 1962
Volume: Vol XXVII, No.2
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Garner Ted Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: February 9, 1930
Died: September 15, 2003
Member Since: 1930
Ambassador College: 1956
Ordained: 1955
Office: Evangelist

You can punish your children in love and GET RESULTS! But to be effective, to really have it pay off, you need to know HOW to punish, what with, how often, how soon, how hard and when NOT to spank!

   THE MERE suggestion of spanking a small child, or "hitting" a child, as the psychologists like to refer to it, will send some into a veritable frenzy of indignant anger!
   But why? Why SHOULD the human mind be so HOSTILE toward loving, kind, careful punishment by a parent who is earnestly teaching and guiding his child? It is because that mind is CARNAL! "For the CARNAL mind [natural, fleshly, not begotten of God's Spirit} is ENMITY toward God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be!" (Rom. 8:7)
   God is love. But God PUNISHES every child upon whom He lavishes His heavenly love! (Heb. 12:5-11) His very nature is that of a loving, just Parent who administers PUNISHMENT for His own children's good!

Not The "Last Resort"

   As we saw in the last installment, the child psychologists say "The word 'punishment' should not appear in our dictionaries except as an obsolete word..." (Psychological Care of Infant and Child, Watson, pages 63-65). And advise parents that they usually "turn to this extreme as a last resort, and because they think that nothing else will work" (The Complete Book of Mothercraft, Parents' Institute, page 365).
   But, as we saw clearly proved, the God-ordained method of spanking children for disobedience, and for instilling right habits in them at the early age when they cannot reason for themselves, is the BEST method! It's the God-GIVEN method. It's the way that really WORKS that gets results!
   We have seen what effective punishment should accomplish! How to aim for the long-range goals, and how to administer the first spanking!
   The way of God is best it is the RIGHT way NOT the "end course in a series of happenings that has carried both parent and child away from feelings of love and understanding" as deluded men and women advise.
   The abuse of children, the WRONG METHODS of punishment, and some extreme cases of child beating have swung the child psychologists to the opposite extreme of the pendulum. The past several decades, they have advocated NO punishment whatever.
   Because myriads of deceived parents have followed these spineless seasonings, the chiefs of our greatest law enforcement agencies have warned of coming mountainous crime waves unparalleled in the annals of history!
   J. Edgar Hoover has said our very NATION is in stark DANGER from this terrible crime wave among youth that is the new phenomenon of our times!
   For those parents who have begun to really see the truth of God and who want to follow and practice that truth, these articles are written.

What Should You Use?

   If you have really SEEN, and you know that you can and must punish your children when they need it and do it in love then you need to know HOW! What do you use?
   You've heard of the old razor strap, the belt, the buggy whip, the ruler and pencil of the school teachers of a few decades ago. But should these implements be used?
   We have already seen how two or three fingers o f the hand should be used for a very young child, and first tested on your own forearm or thigh. Generally, it is best to spank with the hand. But, again, there are many cautions.
   First, never try to spank a small child with the whole hand through his diapers! Before you would ever accomplish the job of administering a proper spanking to drive the lesson home, you might run the risk of injuring the child's back. The whole hand against one or two thicknesses of diapers would not really be felt except as a clubbing type of blow to the child.
   As was already covered thoroughly, you should raise the corners of the diaper, and sharply spat the child with only two or three fingers! Make it be felt but first try it on yourself to be sure.
   Before continuing with these methods, let's understand where you should spank a child! It is certainly all right to spat the back of a child's hand as he reaches for a forbidden object, such as a lighted stove, china vase, or something he may pull down and break. In fact, as one author states, "A slap on the hand of the infant who is reaching for a forbidden object has the advantages of immediate and direct association with the misbehavior and of being quickly over. To do any good the slap must be sharp enough to be felt, but should not be severely painful." (As the Twig Is Bent, Hohman, p. 49)
   But these are the only areas in which you should ever spank a child! Either high on the backs and sides of the legs, directly on the buttocks, or occasionally on the backs of the hands. You should NEVER "box his ears" or strike a child about the head or face.
   ANY time a parent is seen slapping a child on the face, or thumping him on the head, striking him anywhere else but the areas described, and then never hard enough to bruise or injure, that parent is probably punishing in ANGER, and is truly "hitting" the child not really punishing in love!
   Generally it is going to, be better to spank with your own hand. That way, you can feel it, too, and you will be even surer you are not overdoing it.
   Many parents utilize a small switch, which will sharply sting, but never break the skin or bruise. As the author already quoted said, "Spanking or nettling small legs with appropriately small switches are only two of the methods that may be used." (As the Twig Is Bent, p. 49)
   Certainly, nothing in the old-fashioned buggy whip category should be used. An extremely effective implement is one of the lighter ping pong paddles, applied to the bare buttocks. (This I know from personal experience!)
   With children from two to six or eight years, many parents use the father's belt. However, caution should be used in applying a belt. Certainly the end with the buckle, or any belt that has metal affixed to the portion to be used should NEVER be applied to a child. A very heavy, thick leather belt, especially if striking the child on the edges, if it is being used double, could inflict severe pain and even possible injury. Some parents literally do not know how hard they are striking their children! Therefore, even as was recommended in the application of one or two fingers to a very young infant, the parent should strike himself sharply once or twice on the thigh with the belt, just as he might test the temperature of the baby bottle on his wrist. In this fashion, you may always be sure of the exact strength of the blow, and you will not run the risk of "over punishing" or injury.
   The old-fashioned idea of the "hair brush" is more mythical than factual, and with today's modern plastic hair brushes and the like, should never be used.
   The place to punish a child is squarely on the buttocks! As has already been covered, very high on the sides of the thighs, or with a small switch, on the backs of the legs, would be equally as appropriate. HOWEVER, this must be wisely decided depending upon the severity of the punishment, and the implement used! Be extremely careful if punishing with a belt that only the shortest portion of the belt is used, and that it is not allowed to wrap around the child's little body, or in any way run the risk of striking so as to injure or cause severe pain. Use common sense punish your child in LOVE calmly not in the heat of emotion and you need not fear "over punishment."
   It is very strongly recommended NOT to use anything that could properly be considered an "implement" for punishment short of one year of age! Parents are strictly cautioned to be extremely careful in the application of proper punishment to a very tiny child.
   Now that we have discussed how spanking should be done, let us cover, in principle, other important things to remember.

It Must Be Prompt!

   To be effective, spanking should always be prompt! Frequently, because of "embarrassment" in the presence of friends, being in a public place, driving in a car, or other difficulty which seems to make the immediate application of punishment somewhat problematic, parents will defer punishment until later time. This should never be done! The child (and the younger the child the truer this is), will tend to lose sight of the seriousness of his offense, and the exact relationship between the offense and the punishment meted out becomes somewhat unclear in his mind after a period of delay.
   "Punishment, to be effective, must be prompt, especially with a very young child. Prompt punishment does not mean hasty punishment, in anger. Rather, it means bringing the results of an act close enough to the event so that a child, whose memory is short, will not have forgotten why he is being punished" (p. 179, Childcare and Training, Faegre and Anderson).
   As the example already cited in a previous installment of the parents eating in a restaurant with a child, the parent should think more of the child and of the child's future than he does of the mere "opinions" of people seat ed around. He should quietly and calmly take the child out of the restaurant, apply the proper punishment, and return, rather than deferring the punishment until later.
   "The fundamental in all discipline is to be sure you are right, then go ahead. Go ahead in a way which leaves no shadow of doubt whether you or your child wins. Whatever you do, do something decisive. Do not tell a child who coasts down a dangerous and for bidden driveway that he cannot use his coaster any more that day and then let him coax you into giving it back in five minutes. Do not spank a child and cuddle his tears away, murmuring: 'Daddy is sorry he had to spank you."' (pp. 50-51, As the Twig Is Bent, Hohman).
   Only when punishment is administered IMMEDIATELY after the offense, and especially is this true with a very young child, will it be truly effective. This is the only fashion in which the very young child can be expected to ASSOCIATE the immediate retributive chastisement with the wrong action.
   The more swiftly the punishment can follow the act of disobedience, the more effective it will be! This is a principle which should NEVER be forgotten.


   To punish for an infraction one day, and then to allow the same infraction without punishment the next day is totally confusing to a child.
   "The habit of obedience should be developed by the second birthday and firmly fixed by the third. It should become automatic. By the end of the first year, the foundation should be laid. This foundation arises out of a firm, calm, CONSISTENT treatment of the child during the first year. The child will get his first lesson of obedience in learning inhibitions. There is something which babies should not do; mother says 'no' and sees to it that the baby does not do the forbidden thing [by punishing IMMEDIATELY if an infraction occurs]. The mother must be sure that the first lessons are absolutely successful. She must say 'no' only with good reason, but when she says it she must see that the child obeys" (pp. 148-149, Training Children, Pyle). (Emphasis ours)
   I have observed many parents make the gross mistake of totally inconsistent punishment and training. The underlying cause for inconsistency is that the
   parents have lapsed into the habit of punishing their children ONLY when the children finally "get on their nerves" to the effect that the parent becomes angry, and "lashes out" at the child in retributive haste!
   Frequently, parents will say "But I DO spank him!" and then go on to argue "But it doesn't seem to do a bit of good!" ALWAYS, at the root of a statement such as this, is discipline that is totally ineffective because it is not being done consistently.
   This is perhaps the most common of all parental failings in administering just and loving discipline! On one day, mother may spank little Johnnie for having pulled a knife out of the drawer. On the following day, she may totally ignore Johnnie as he plays with a whole fistful of knives and forks.


   Here, too, is one of the greatest errors of parents today.
   "Johnnie! Get back up there on that chair and finish your dinner!" says the parent. But Johnnie ignores the parent, going about his own pursuits as if he had not even heard the voice of the parent. Most parents are taken in by this "ignoring" which all children will "`try" with their parents, and so are convinced Johnnie really didn't hear the command! The command is repeated and repeated and repeated! FINALLY the child may even be picked up and PLACED on the chair by the frustrated parent! OR what is just as likely (in the practice which I myself have observed on many occasions) after five or six fruitless admonitions, the parent himself may turn away from this futile attempt at child training and go back to his newspaper or other pursuits, letting the child have his own way! Parents who say, "Did you hear me?" are those who always speak more than once! Parents who say "What am I going to do with you?" are parents who always speak more than once! Parents who say "Am I going to have to give you a spanking?" are parents who ALWAYS speak more than once.
   Have you been using these phrases? Do you speak more than ONCE to your children?
   Speak to your child once! Then, if disobedience follows, IMMEDIATELY apply the proper punishment! It is only in this way that punishment can be truly effective!
   It is truly amazing the degree to which a child's hearing may be sharpened by only speaking ONCE, firmly, and sharply! Thousands of parents seem to be in blissful ignorance of the fact that their children could be trained to literally "jump at the snap of their fingers" if they cared to use the diligence to gain this end. You may have heard of the children who were startled into humble quietude by the mere "clearing of the throat" of their father as a warning. You may have heard of other children who could have been silenced with a mere look. But by far the more average is the child who can't be quieted with a thousand admonitions, and who never listens to his parent!
   This is such a common failing of parents that it deserves ample discussion! Check up on yourself! Begin to speak only ONCE!
   If you want your child for something, simply say, "Johnnie, come here!" If the child ignores you, wait just a moment or two, then arise from your chair, calmly bare the child's bottom and apply about five or six good sharp swats! If Johnnie pretends he "didn't hear you" and tearfully tells you he didn't realize you were calling him you may be positively assured that if you explain the reason why he is being spanked, he WILL hear you the next time!
   I have seen so many dozens, yes even hundreds of parents speaking time and time again to their children without any visual effect that it is truly amazing!
   You, as a parent, should begin to speak to your child only once! Say, "Eat your dinner!" And then, if, after a few moments, the child is still toying with his food, showing disinterest, or daydreaming calmly take him down from the dinner table, into another room, lower his pants and give him a good effective spanking! Allow him to remain in his room until the crying has completely subsided, and until he is settled down again, and then firmly place him on his chair and say, "Eat your dinner!" This time, you may be fully persuaded, the chances are far more likely that he is going to finish his dinner! However, let's assume he DOESN'T. What then? This brings up the next basic principle.

Always FINISH What Is Started

   NEVER CEASE! Never quit! Never give up! Once you have begun teaching your child the meaning of the word "no," and to respond to a single command, don't ever give up! Let's assume your child does not learn to eat his dinner after this one spanking. If he eats only two or three bites after the first one, and then begins to toy with his food again repeat the whole process. DON'T SPEAK AGAIN you've already done that simply arise from the table, take him into his room, and administer another spanking!
   Perhaps it may seem unnecessarily harsh to you but you should continue this process as long as is made necessary by your child's REBELLION!
   There is going to come a time in the life of every child when he is going to "try" his parents almost to the breaking point. He will rebel. It may be over a simple thing such as eating his dinner, picking up his toys, coming when you call, going to bed quietly, or any number of things. My son, on one occasion, simply refused to blow his nose! My wife would say "Blow!", and wait, holding the handkerchief to his nose. He had been blowing his nose by himself for quite some months there was no question but that he knew how. He rebelled. My wife spanked him, and then told him "Blow!" again. Again, he refused. My wife spanked him the second time. Finally, after my wife had been spanking him quite a number of times, she called me. I took over the situation, and he still refused to "blow!" I do not remember now and I am sure my son Mark doesn't remember, either it may have taken as many as fifteen or twenty separate spankings of six or eight licks each! However, after the last one he BLEW!
   Had I let my son win that battle may never have gained control of him again!
   My child was not bruised he was not injured and the pain was all over in just a few moments!! But the LESSON he learned is still with him to this day, as he's rounding out his third year in school! My wife and I then explained to him that he would never have needed even ONE spanking if he had merely blown his nose as he should have in the beginning! We impressed this firmly upon his mind, telling him that spankings are not enjoyable, they are not "fun" for anyone concerned, but that because we love him, we MUST teach him what is best for him, and what Almighty God requires, in order that he will grow up to be an obedient, loving, respectful child, always doing exactly what his parents tell him!
   I have seen many parents spank their children once or twice for an infraction, and then give up because their children CONTINUED to rebel. This is disastrous to teaching real discipline.
   Use CAUTION, however! NEVER go to an extreme and BEAT your child. Punish wisely, in LOVE!
   Punishment, to be truly effective must always be JUST and graded to the nature and degree of the offense! Never punish harshly, or overly much for a small infraction! Never punish lightly, or too little for a major infraction! Use wisdom and judgment! I never punished very hard for reaching for a knickknack or teacup. I punished very firmly for running out into the street! The one offense, if repeated, might result in a broken teacup; the other, if repeated, might result in the loss of the life of the most precious possession any parent can be given!

Use RIGHT Psychology

   Punishment must be adapted to the individual child! However, in explaining this, I may run the risk of having some parents retort, "My child never needs a spanking!" But this, after reading the inspired word of God on the subject, would be sheer ridiculousness! Any and every child NEEDS spankings! It is a vital, integral PART of his positive teaching and training! To be left without punishment is to be left without a very precious benefit given by Almighty God in His Supreme love for instilling a deep sense of respect, discipline, reliance, self-control and a settled, orderly, appreciation of loving authority.
   Granted, some children are of totally different natures than others. Some are "easily upset" while others seem to be quite stoical, almost imperturbable. It may take only one or two sharp spats for one child to burst into a veritable flood of tears and repentance. It may take 10 or 12 for another child to show equal remorse. Surely, no one is in a better position to know and evaluate this than you if you are wise and loving parents.
   A child should always understand the PURPOSE of the punishment. Spanking should always be accompanied by the positive TEACHING as to how to do the RIGHT thing, as opposed to the wrong. Most parents have come to feel that spanking is entirely "negative." This is simply not true! Spanking should be, if properly utilized, the most positive method of child rearing there is. With the proper, kind and discerning TEACHING of the RIGHT action, both before and after the spanking, this gives a positive and negative side to the spanking procedure which will be lastingly beneficial. For example: If your child is frequently running in and out of the house, and leaving the door open, call him back, inform him of his mistake, and firmly tell him to always close the door after him when either coming in or going out of the house. Assuming he forgets within a few minutes and leaves the door ajar again, call him to you, show him the open door and administer a just spanking! THEN, take the child to the door, and have him close it. Have him then go in and out of the door five or six times, each time he does it, opening and closing it properly! Instill the HABIT of obedience. TEACH him the positive act he should be expected to do! In this way, with the positive teaching immediately following and accompanying the spanking for an infraction, a valuable and long lasting lesson may be taught.
   Most of the time, your child, is going to disobey "accidentally." He will disobey through carelessness, thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, or simply through a lack of understanding of what is expected of him. However don't be deceived! There are many occasions when a child will DELIBERATELY disobey and needs to be spanked accordingly!
   Let your child know you believe in his underlying good intent! Frequently, the young boy or girl will say, quite tearfully, "I didn't mean to!" You should answer, "Of course you didn't MEAN to!" Explain to the child how you "understand" that he did it merely through carelessness or forgetfulness. But say "had I thought you would have done such a deed on purpose I would have punished you much more severely! I know and understand that you wouldn't have done this deliberately TRYING to be disobedient but because I love you, I must impress upon you that you should never do this through forgetfulness or carelessness again!"
   Then, when the tears have subsided after a spanking, LOVE your children take them up and show them some affection! NEVER allow the child to run from the one parent who has done the punishing to the other for the loving and the affection but ALWAYS make sure the child is loved, first o f all by the parent who has done the punishing!
   The insipid misunderstanding and calloused indifference of some of the child psychologists is difficult to digest, indeed! One child psychologist advocated a pat on the head at bedtime, a handshake in the morning, and, now and then, a "nod of approval!" This, the parents were assured, was to avoid "too much mother love!"
   What a loveless, cold and totally hopeless atmosphere it would be if a tiny child could expect only a pat on the head, a shake of the hand, and a nod of approval once in a while!
   For a child of four, six, ten or fourteen or any age to come to a parent and say "I sure do love you, Daddy! " voluntarily, is one 'of the most loving and emotionally satisfying, joy-filled experiences of life! Granted, there may be such a thing as "over protectiveness" on the part of some parents and especially, some mothers! However, surely a lack of protectiveness, lack of parental love and direction is far more prevalent in today's society than "too much love!"
   Yes, punishment when used properly, and in LOVE is a truly marvelous method of positive child teaching and training. God says:
   "The rod and reproof give wisdom: But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame!
   "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul" (Prov.29:15,17).
   Further, the Ruler of this universe, the God who gives you every breath of air you breathe also gives you an infallible promise that if you "train up a child in the way he should go," he will, when he is old, "NOT depart from it" (Prov. 22:6).
   There are many methods of proper punishment not all of them involving physical or corporal punishment.

Natural Consequences Sometimes Punish

   Sometimes, natural consequences of a child's action may serve. However, this should only be done when the natural consequences of the act are not too severe, and no real injury or lasting harm is involved. Obviously, a parent should not wait until a child is severely shocked in order to teach a very young child not to pull out or play with electric cords. However, a child will oftentimes learn unassisted by the parents through natural consequences of his acts, how to get along in his surroundings. For example, he may, by bumping his head when raising up under the piano bench or the table, learn to crawl out from under any such obstacle before pulling up or standing. He will learn after one or two minor brushes with a hot radiator to avoid it.
   Used as a method of punishment, the parent may warn a child crawling toward a hot (but not too hot!) radiator "NO!" The child may disobey this command, and reach out to touch it anyhow! Obviously, if it is going to result in a severe burn, the parent should snatch up the child before the child is allowed to touch the radiator and apply corporal punishment in a "right" and loving manner. However, if it is merely, going to result in a momentary pain, the natural consequence may, in all likelihood, serve to illustrate to the child that immediate retribution and pain will follow the disobedience of the "NO!" command.


   Isolation may be used as a proper method of punishment if the circumstances warrant it. Especially would this be beneficial if if the child is being uncooperative in playing with other children. The simple "no!" command for a very young child, or a longer admonition, in the event the child is older, should always precede ANY form of punishment! If the child is taking toys away from others, or not playing in a cooperative manner, he may be secluded in his own room, or removed and taken to an isolated place (NEVER a darkened closet, cupboard, or small, confined. place), preferably, his own room. He may be made to remain there for a short period of time, or longer, dependent upon the circumstances.


   Deprivation of some special toy, some particular pleasure, dessert 'after a meal, a 'trip to the store, or any number of things will serve as a lasting admonition for some offenses.
   For example, a child who is old enough to talk and can understand such admonitions might be warned, "If you don't eat all your spinach, you shall not have any ice cream "with the rest of us as dessert! If the child persists in his rebellion, and' does not finish his spinach the parent should be firm, and DEPRIVE the, child of the ice cream.
   Voiced disapproval may, be utilized in some instances. However, mere "nagging" at the child, constant recriminations and rebukes, or parental disgust shown over and over gain will do nothing more than frighten, dishearten and induce sulkiness in a child.

Never use Shortcuts

   None of the aforementioned methods should EVER, under any circumstances, supplant or substitute as permanent measures for corporal punishment! There are thousands of parents who will assure others that they can "reason with their children, and therefore have never needed to spank them! There are many thousands of others who assure all who will listen that their children can merely be "shamed" as a result of any wrong deed, and have never "NEEDED" a spanking!
   These are simple excuses and attempted "shortcuts, by parents who abhor and detest any usage of the God-given means of teaching and training children corporal punishment! They are going to lead to heartache and serious troubles later and it must be stated here, that even though natural consequences, deprivation of special pleasures, or disapproval. are and can be used as effective means of punishment they should never be used exclusively, or as a substitute for proper, loving, corporal punishment.

(To be continued next issue)

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Plain Truth MagazineFebruary 1962Vol XXVII, No.2
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