Amish children and spanking

I just read an article by Donald Kraybill which examines Amish and obedience (  In the piece, Kraybill explains why Amish use physical punishment to discipline children, citing an Amish mother named Hannah:

Hannah explained that, when children are about two years old, their wills need to be broken. If it’s not done at that stage, she said, they will likely become disobedient, rebellious adults. The spanking helps correct them and “make them nice.” Another mother explained that when children learn to fold their hands at prayer time, they are old enough to be reprimanded with light spanks when disobedient.

The article has been getting some interesting responses.  Not everyone in the comments section agrees with the Amish approach to corporal punishment, or even has a favorable opinion of the Amish, for that matter.

Some of the commenters say that they do not or did not use physical discipline with their own children, for example favoring time-outs instead.  One remarks that after spankings received as a child, she felt only “resentment”.   Another critic writes that “Few parents would brag that they hit their children, but change the word to “spank” and suddenly the behavior is fine.”

At the same time a number of responders commend the Amish approach.  A mother of five states that “Without discipline, children will fail in life, period.”  Another cites a bad experience at a restaurant, sitting next to a family with two extremely disruptive children.  “For too many children today, a little Amish-style discipline would be a very good thing,” notes the commenter.  “Children need to learn that the world does not exist to satisfy their selfish whims.”

Amish feel that spanking must be done with the right motives and state of mind, as Kraybill explains:

Parents are quick to say, however, that spanking and other forms of physical discipline should never be done in anger or frustration. The child should understand the reason for discipline so that “punishment ends on a happy note, sweet and forgiving,” says Naomi, a mother. She adds that because correction ultimately “leads to happiness … [discipline] must be the result of our love for the child’s happiness, both now and in the hereafter.”

Parents out there, what do you think?

Spare the rod, spoil the child?

Or is physical discipline taking things too far?

And: read more on Amish child discipline, including punishment in Amish schools.

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    1. Mark

      This is a hot topic and I really am curious what others think.

      I admire the Amish, but on this point I disagree.
      I think conventional wisdom and the old generation talk about making sure the child is disciplined and brought up right. But you can do this without any physical punishment.

      For example, my nephew was never hit once, and I do not think even yelled at and he is fine at 22 years old.

      My child even at 2 1/3 years, when I explain things to her she understands. I certainly do not hit or yell at her. I just guide her towards different behavior.

      With kids I do not believe in the hard way. I think if you from day one show them only calmness and love they will learn much faster.

      The one thing about the Amish is they are a loving community. So their tough love works because of the whole. But I think if they jettison this their society would not fall apart.

      1. Margie Wilcox

        The spanking of Amish children

        I know that many religions and cultures believe in spanking and that is their right if just plain spanking and nothing vere severe. I was raised Catholic and got spanked at school by the nun s and at home by my father.

        the nuns could be brutal, taking my panties down and smacking my bare bottom. And for me, it happened at least once a week I have a friend who was raised in the Mormon faith and she had her panties removed and give many good whippings

        1. Jacqueline Schmidt

          In Response to Margie Wilcox

          In response to Margie Wilcox: What do you mean by their “right”? Is it a spouse’s “right” to hit their husband/wife? Is it a person’s “right” to hit their companion animal? No, it would be a crime, and the same needs to apply to children. One of my favorite quotes is: “Why is it that hitting an animal is called cruelty, hitting an adult is called battery, and hitting a child is called discipline?” — Anonymous

    2. Robert Gschwind

      I believe the point is, that the punishment is delivered without anger and with love. I would imagine there is an exception to every rule though even in the Amish community.
      I have three grown children and can count on one hand the total times they were spanked. They seemed to learn what was acceptable and what wasn’t very quickly. Later on, words were enough to correct bad behavior.

      1. brother jack

        never in anger

        I fully agree with the final statement of the article. A spanking should NEVER be done in anger. My father almost always spanked in anger without hezitation or giving himself time to “cool off.” This is where ther will be a danger of abuse. A child needs love and understanding yet, a definate understanding od right verses wrong and there are consequences for wrong choices they make in childhood. This direction and guidance will follow them into adulthood when they will have learned in childhood to THINK before making decisions.
        I deeply resent the use of “hittimg” as a substitute word for spanking, which denotes slapping around like a drunken father would. Spanking when done PROPERLY (lovingly), is a biblical means of training the child to make the RIGHT choices, which will have a LASTING effect one the decissions they make as adults!

        1. TealRose

          @Brother Jack

          While I agree you should never spank a child in anger – I also believe that you shouldn’t hit a child or an adult period. You see – if I spanked you, it would be deemed to be hitting, as my hand or an implement would impact on you and I would be arrested, quite rightly. No matter how you like to make hitting sound ‘good’ to you by using words like ‘spanking’ doesn’t change that fact – and most dictionaries will back me up here.

          ” I deeply resent the use of “hittimg” as a substitute word for spanking, which denotes slapping around like a drunken father would. Spanking when done PROPERLY (lovingly), is a biblical means of training the child to make the RIGHT choices…” I deeply resent the idea that spanking ISN’T hitting – as I showed above, it most definitely is hitting! You really would NOT like it if I spanked you! ‘Hitting’ doesn’t mean just being ‘slapped around by a drunken father’. There is NO ‘PROPER’ way to spank aka hit a child. Just as there is NO proper or right way to hit you. Spanking a child most definitely is NOT Biblical [Christ never told us to spank children, and warned us not to hurt a child. We are warned not to ‘exasperate’ our children and hitting them, spanking them most definitely will exasperate them. Just as it would you – or your wife if you spanked her. Spanking also doesn’t train a child into making right choices. It makes a child fear it’s parents, [even fear God which is not what he wants] and also only teaches the child to ‘do the right thing’ because of fear of being hit and not because it IS the right thing!

          “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

    3. Amy Jo

      I tend to agree with Robert. Rarely used (only once on me -now 54y/o- which I do not remember but others say it should have been more often!) my father disciplined with calmness and the kids always were told why they were being spanked (or having their mouths washed out with soap) in a calm and never the appearance of anger. All of us loved our father and I never heard a course word spoke of him from any of us – only loving words. I think it is very individual meaning there are those who abuse which is wrong and, those who do not guide and set boundaries which is equally wrong. I also think each individual person/child is unique and their requirements for learning are also unique. Most of the time, a look or a few words would nearly do me in as a child, hence the ONE spanking – not that I necessarily didn’t misbehave. Yes, this subject is a touchy one and will illicit either many comments or nary a word!

    4. Esther

      We were spanked when we were children and I don’t regret it. There is a difference between hitting and spanking and spanking in love is Biblical. There is a difference in children, some need more discipline than others. I would think the child that resents it hasn’t been spanked enough as it usually results in respect and obedience.

    5. REading the Huff Posts comments makes me shake my head at the sincere lack of knowledge about Amish. I just have to say that the “proof is in the pudding.” I live in the midst of the Amish/Menn settlement of Lancaster County, and have lived in other Plain Communities for years. I dont have to lock my doors, and can leave the keys in my vehicle at night. I would trust my wallet in the hands of my neighbor’s children. Perfect folks? No. But name me a city in the US where people regularly sell their products on the honor basis, with a coffee can for the register.
      Yes, I was spanked as a child. On my father’s deathbed I wept with him and thanked him for every last time he gave me a spanking. It brings tears of joy to my eyes even at this minute that he took the time to break my ego and learn that great lesson, that self-centered ways are the root of all of humanity’s problems.
      Thanks again, Dad, for breaking my will! Mike

    6. Suzanne McMahon

      I totally agree with spanking and soap in the mouth. Standing in the corner was a great way to “think about being naughty”. Look around at the youth of today – they give little or no respect. Thanks people who do not believe in “correcting” this mistake by proper discipline. You are giving us a world of me first adults who care little about anyone but themselves. Kids need to be spanked – if not why would they come to you after one and be so loving and apologectic? I thank the Lord that my children discipline my grandchildren in the way that they were raised. Their teachers are too !

    7. Elizabeth

      Setting boundaries and learning limits are how we all indoctrinate our children into our “culture”. The means seems less relevant than the end when it is done with love. I read an article early in my parenting career that said that spanking done in anger was abuse. I wanted my child to learn limits for his safety and happiness and have approached all discipline in this way. Some days easier than others, but always with love.

    8. Mark

      With the above comments I would agree that there is a big difference between hitting a child, especially in anger or frustration and something called a spanking. A spanking is more a nudge in the right direction, but done with good intentions, that is for the good of the child. But it still is physical. So I think we are on the same page about that. We are not talking about hitting a child in frustration, but spanking.

      However, that being said, I was spanked as a child and I did not like it. I do not think it made me a better person in anyway. If anything it was mildly stressful.

      In contrast, my two childhood friends, George and Scott were never spanked. Their parents were from the liberal 1960s and did not believe in it. I do not think it made them worst people. They are surely more easy going then I am.

      My younger brother was the only one not spanked and he is the most easy going of the five of my parents kids. He is very hard working.

      Discipline in life is always self discipline. Someone teaching you with physical force does not teach discipline, but teaches something else.
      But many people grow up normal despite being spanked as a child.

      Therefore, a world without spanking would not lose discipline or create a generation of slackers. It would have no effect.

      I do not think the Bible (I am thinking thinking New Testament) teaches anything like this. I think spanking is more a tradition from man.

    9. Fern Todd

      I was spanked as a child,as well as my six siblings.
      I have disciplined our three in like manner. My daughter, however, tried the time-out, reasoning etc, until her son was 4 yrs. Spanking became necessary but very seldom. He is in college, honor grad and his 2 sisters are streight A and A+ students in school.
      Children are different and so are parents. I’ve seen many parents who needed the spanking for letting their children behave in such disrespectful manners toward them and the public.
      What harm is being done to those not disiplined? I think we see it about us daily.
      We visit the Amish settlements several times each year and their children could set examples for most of the English children.

    10. Mary E

      I was spanked now and then as a child. my father delivered the spanking (very mild) as he was at work during the day and wasn’t angry at the time. I used to spank my kids when they were at the “dog” stage- that is, they needed to sit, stay, don’t touch, stay here, etc. It was light and worked…

    11. Diane Paulson

      I agree with Esther completely. When a child is not spanked, they most likely will become irresponsible adults. Both my children have actually thanked me for the many, firm spanking I gave them as children. They are now 33 and 35. The Bible tells us, the greatest wise authority on earth, that the rod of correction is necessary. Who else shall we believe on this? The authority of men, who are obviously limited in their understanding of human nature, or the authority of God, who states that the heart of man is desperately wicked, who can know it? I choose God. His love and wisdom is way beyond man’s, that is for sure.

    12. Mary E

      I also wanted to say, that it depends on the child. Some of my kids were so sensitive that they would cry if you just looked at them the wrong way, but one of them was so stubborn, you could have hit him over the head with a 2×4 and it wouldn’t have made any difference. So I had to decide which method was best for each child. I have to say I used spanking rarely and only until they were about 4 or 5, if that.

      1. Stephanie Rollins

        I agree

        Well said. To discipline all children alike is foolish when children are of different personalities.

        1. TealRose

          Children are all different ....

          Yes, children are all different. Just as are us adults. None of us needs to be hit. It is NOT Biblical in any stretch of the imagination.

          Why is it that pro spankers think that no spanking /hitting means no discipline ? You do know what discipline means ? It means to teach – it does NOT mean to hit. Just as a shepherds crook was used to guide his sheep not to hit them. Just as the Rod was the Rod of law and knowledge. Christ told us NOT to infuriate our children or hurt them .. or it would be better we had a millstone tied around our necks and were thrown into the sea. So please – tell me WHERE exactly Christ told us to spank and hurt our children ? I know I will wait forever – because He never ever did. Why is it that you think that children shouldn’t be treated with the same grace we are by our Father ? Christ died for ALL of us – for our sins – not just for adults. Why do you choose to follow a ‘rule’ that actually is NOT in the Bible at all – but when it comes to eating certain things, wearing clothing of mixed fibres etc – you all take not notice ?

          Treat a child with love and respect – not with shame and pain – and they will grow into gentle and loving adults. I have to say I respected the Amish until a few years ago when I found out about them breaking their child’s will and how they hit them. YES spanking IS hitting. Read the dictionary! Yes, it is violence. Yes, it is abuse. Just as one smack to you would be – so it is for a child. Love will conquer all – not violence.

          1. Jacqueline

            Well said, TealRose

    13. Sherry Gore

      Diane Paulson could have written my comment. My three children, all past spanking age and well-adjusted young adults, have thanked me, both personally, and in their discussions with others. God’s ways are always right. It would be belittling Him, to say otherwise.

    14. Marilyn

      When I was a child I was spanked and I deserved it. Me parents never beat me, but gave it to me on the rare situations that I needed it. I was grown and working when I made some swear coment to my mother and she washed my mouth out with a bar of soap. That’s the last time I swore. In our area we have Amish and Mennonite and you go into a store or restaurant the children mind and have great mannors. I have been in restaurants when children were screaming, grabbing food from parents or other brothers and sisters plates, etc. and the parents do nothing-they were not Amish or Mennonite. They were the English. I don’t believe in beating children but I do believe in spanking discipline.

    15. Laurie

      I noticed in my years of living that when spanking became a no-no in society, that more and more teenagers as well as adults that have come through that era seem to be more disrespectful to others and adults. I have no regrets on how my parents disciplined me, whether a spanking or being sent to my room with no tv, video games etc…heck I didn’t even have those things in my room.
      I respect the Amish way of life as they are consistent and thier children are on the most part always well behaved in social settings.

    16. Mark

      I can not believe this.
      First, God’s way is not spanking. Where do you get this, I mean, did God tell you this? Did Jesus say this?
      This notion is some American 19th century anthropomorphic projection of God.
      Second, I personally know many examples of fine human beings that were never spanked and are not spoiled and if anything very open minded and more easy going than people I know who were spanked. If you were spanked good for you, but maybe if you were not spanked you would be even be a better person. I think it sends the wrong message.
      Third, most of Europe Pre-WWI and Pre-WWII was spanked and ‘taught discipline’. That generation in my mind saw a lot children grow up with rigid minds about what is right and wrong and that generation did a lot of bad wrong things, like caused two world wars.
      Forth, These are little innocent children that love you and trust you totally and than boom.
      People try to justify this because their parents did it or it is just the way we do things.

      Please read The lottery by Shirley Jackson. Just because people do it does not mean it is the optimal way for the whole.

    17. I come from Sweden and spanking has been outlawed since the 60s I think and our society has not crumbled in that period and me and all my siblings are well-behaved people who all have jobs and know how to behave just like the very majority of people here. Spanking is not necessary, but training your child to behave is. However, it can be done without hitting someone, I mean seriously, what would you do if your boss spanked you because you made a mistake?

      I did not get to do whatever I wanted and my parents most definitely told me ‘no’ and if I acted badly my mother told me to go to my room until I could control my temper and if I came back and still acted badly I was sent back until I knew how to behave. I was a very stubborn child but I learned that I could not behave a certain way and I learned to control my temper myself. I can still benefit from that as an adult I thank my parents for teaching me how to control my temper and how to behave and be a good person, without spanking.

    18. linda saul

      Well in todays world if you spank a child in any manner even a tap on the wrist, you can be charged with abuse. Yes I see lots of small children that need a good spanking, but I find it only makes the matter worse as they then go in to hesterics.I really don’t know the correct way, maybe taking away something they really cherish, is the best.

    19. Glenda

      So as the mother of 6 I spanked my children. ONe of my children felt she was not going to spank her children ever. Well… 3 kids later in an overwhelmed state she spanked her child because she could not get the 6 year old child to go to bed. My response was too bad you had to wait until you were angry and overwhelmed. I agree with the Amish. Lets just all look around us at the state of children and families in america and think that possibly a spanking every now and then could teach some of the out of control children a little respect and discipline in life. We need to raise children with some type of respect for discipline. Spanking (not beating) can be administered with love and control.

    20. plain lady

      I was spanked as a child and spank my children.Interestingly enough, when we go to the store or Mc Donalds and my children see other children screaming or throwing themselves on the floor they will say, “Those children need a Good spanking.” !!!

      1. Matthew Mercier

        I agree with you

        I have to say I was too spanked as a child. I am a parent and I now spank my children I see how some parents don’t and there children have no respect at all I just wanted to say you are an awesome parent and keep on spanking when needed and My kids also know that when they are spanked it is out of love and wanting them to learn! It is not to abuse them or get my anger out at them always ends with a hug and a good conversation how we can avoid spankings in the future

    21. If we isolate spanking from the general context of love, guidelines, and firm discipline, there is no miracle in “spanking” in and of itself. To try spanking outside of that general context will probably have minimal benefits. And although I had the willow rod wrapped around my rear more than once (the sound of that peculiar “swoosh” as it cut the air on its way to deliver a loving message … ahhhh … is that music?!! 🙂 It can be the song of love!) and now practice it in my own home, I can believe a child raised without “spanking” (as a particular form of training) can still turn out ok. The key was the context of the spanking and the atmosphere, not the willow rod that mom kept on the top of the refrigerator (and if it mysteriously disappeared when it the time came to use it, the guy in the application line had to go down to the willow tree and get a new one. Sorry, it couldnt be too tiny, or you had to make the second trip to the tree. Been there, done that! 🙂 ).
      See any negative side effects of a lashing with a willow switch in me? They are sweet memories to me now! We children smile and laugh about it, and thank God for parents that could raise six children, and the worst any of us has done in society 30 years later is probably a speeding ticket.
      We were taught respect, authority, submission, and self-control. So that when we now work for someone, and the employer says, “Do this” it is simply second nature to do what the boss says. In the back of our mind is that deep-seated principle, seated there with some swats on the seat of the pants, that life is not pleasant to those who try to fuss or whine their way out of duty.
      It is amazing how many grownups I have met through the years who have never learned that lesson yet. Watching them buck the authority of an employer, lose their job over it, and go whining away, I am glad for the love song of the willow switch on my 5-year-old behind.

    22. Suzanne McMahon

      OK Mark, the bible clearly states in Proverbs 23:13 “Withhold not correction from the child:for if thou beatest him with the rod he will not die”

      Now I don’t know how you perceive this but i truly believe that if we spare the rod we spoil the child – and that is in Proverbs too. so I suggest you READ your Bible before quoting it.

      1. Renee Smith

        misquote... know you Bible

        To Suzanne McMahon,

        People, when you ridicule non believers for not quoting the Bible correctly, you better be sure you know what is in the Bible and what is just a common saying.

        “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is NOT in the Bible.

        This phrase has quite a long genesis. The coiner of the version that we use in everyday speech was Samuel Butler, in Hudibras, the satirical poem on the factions involved in the English Civil War, which was first published in 1662

        I agree with proper Godly spanking of a child. However, when quoting scripture, it is best to actually quote scripture… do not simply paraphrase some saying you heard and think is in the Bible. I agree that the sentiments are the same, but again… do not criticize others and then go do the same. It is absurd!

        1. TealRose


          What is ‘absurd’ is anyone thinking that hitting a child [or indeed anyone or any animal] is right – and that the Bible tells us to do so.

          1] The rod involved is a shepherds rod – it was large, heavy and used to drive off wolves etc and to GUIDE the sheep/lambs not to hit them.

          2] JESUS [remember Him?] The one who told us to be careful of hurting little ones? Told us not to hurt one another? Told us the most important things – ie to love God with all our hearts and to treat one another as we would like to be treated?? [You want to be hit ?? Really ?? Does it teach you anything except fear and pain ???] The one who told us that anyone hurting a child would be better having a millstone put around their neck and thrown into the sea??

          No wonder the sea is rising … there must be a a GREAT call for millstones these days – children do NOT learn to be kind and gentle and full of grace by being hit. None of us does.

          My children weren’t hit – and are exemplary adults as are my little grandchildren.

          Satan is surely laughing his socks off at the evil being done to children in God’s name …. God is a loving, kind God … not an evil, selfish, vile being that is being portrayed by pro spankers.

    23. Forest

      Hebrews 12, verses 7-11 speaks to the issue of chastening, and how “no chastening seems joyful for the present, but painful;nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

      See also Proverbs 3: 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects…

      Or Proverbs 22: 15 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

      While i can’t put it as eloquently as some of the previous writers, I believe it is a Christian parent’s duty to correct a child. If this involves spanking, then so be it.

      Having said that, I also believe that there is a vast difference between calmly and lovingly disciplining a child, and losing your temper and striking one in anger and frustration. Doing the latter is not doing God’s will as Christian parents.

      We have a six year old who is spanked on rare occasions, less and less as she gets older. On the rare times when her mother and I feel that that form of correction is needed, we calmly call her in, explain what the problem is, and the need for correction. She then is spanked, and afterward hugged and assured that we love her, and generally there have not been a need for being corrected a second time. The matter is then put behind us.

      I am not suggesting that this would work for everyone; I do believe there is a growing lack of respect and lack of self discipline in the younger generations which seems to go hand in hand with the modern belief that parents should be friends with their children instead of their teachers, role models, and religeous guides.

    24. Loretta

      Have you ever thought of the time needed with children. It takes more time to correct and discipline a child then it does to let them go ahead and have their own way.
      I have witnessed children who misbehaved, and while doing so, would look at the parent as if daring them to say or do anything. And again, they may have been wishing for the parent to pay enough attention to them so they would actually ‘see’ the child.
      A hot topic for me is to see parents driving their children, attending a school activity, or eating out and they are so busy ck’ing their cell phone they don’t even converse with their children. What a loss for the child.

    25. TL

      I most certainly spank my daughter and will continue to do so when needed …. IN LOVE. Look, some children are graciously gifted by God with sweet temperaments, naturally good cheer and obedient dispositions. Others are strong-willed and need to be bent into an obedient disposition, respectful temperaments and winsomeness. Now, most of that happens without spanking; in fact, it is exceptional that a spanking will be needed for all but the strongest-willed child or all but the strongest-willed phases of an otherwise fair-tempered little one. Instead, this character and attitude development is accomplished mostly in the more common moments of interaction, instruction and just “being with” my daughter, having conversation, laughing together, reading together, singing together, painting or drawing or strumming on a guitar together, working together, etc.

      But, make no mistake …. spanking is part of the overall development strategy in our household, and it works. If my daughter reflects back and recalls attitudes of resentment when she is older, that’s fine, too. I hope she resents the experience and I hope she communicates the utter awfulness of having to get spanked to her children as I have communicated it to her about my own childhood. Maybe they won’t have to be spanked that often, either.

    26. George

      As far as I recall, in the Bible, it says, that spanking is fine to discipline children.
      After all, the Amish are very religeous, and no doubt, their Bible states the same thing.

    27. Mark

      I know where you all are coming from, and I think we all agree there is a difference between spanking in the Amish sense, which is done to guide children and hitting which is something different.
      That being said and even with your quotes from the Bible I still think it is not part of Christian thinking.
      Let me explain:
      Jesus’ message was it was the spirit of the law, rather then the letter of the law that counts.

      The Old Testament, like proverbs is filled with metaphors and should be read in the context of the time it was written. The culture of the time influenced the writers.

      Now I am a Christian like many of you all and believe in the Bible, but again I go back to reality that Jesus’ message was about love and the spirit of the law, not the exact words that are written.

      If the world changes our understanding of God will change, but God never changes.

      This is why passages like “if thou beatest him with the rod he will not die.” is not a part of the Christian message and not found in the new Testament. It was written by people long ago in a more cruel and primitive time. But Jesus never used such language. I can not imaging Jesus doing this.

      I think ‘the rod’ to me means the rod of love and instruction, not literally a rod you spank a kid with.

      I think the Amish change. I think they do use technology when needed, if it is all for the greater good. I think the Amish and children spanking is one thing the Amish could change and it would be for the better.

    28. 2whls3spds

      Spare the rod and spoil the child…

      We have a world full of spoiled self centered children and many of them are in positions of authority…

      I grew up in a large family, spanking was part of it, as was removal of privileges if you didn’t follow rules.

      At the time I am sure we thought the rules overbearing, unnecessary and probably draconian. However we all became responsible adults and contributing members of society.

      I do agree their is a fine line between spanking and beating. Unfortunately many people cannot discern the difference.


    29. Dr._K

      I have engaged in much work with children. I am a parent and I have a child. I don’t spank my son, who is 4, insofar as time-outs and warnings suffice for the present. I don’t ‘believe’ in spanking, but in my work, I have had many opportunities to report the same to CPS, but did not save on one occasion. Why? The parents identified that the spanking was for correction. I DID extend other alternative supports for corrective action (withdrawal of rewards, token economies, catching the child being good) and that was sufficient.

      Persons are pretty hotly divided on this topic. I think parents need a broader repertoire of discipline with their children, and corrective discipline should be administered without anger. Conversely, there should be an extension of great love and attentive support for all beneficial things a child engages in, as a boost to their self-worth and value.

      There is an adage which states that if I say one critical comment to anyone, it should be countered through interactions with 3-4 supportive comments on their character, ability, or other behaviors. Using this as a model or template, children should have 75 to 80% of our commentary in praise and support of ALL of their affirming efforts, and 20-25% of our interaction with them in corrective discipline, which MAY include spanking (in my opinion, as a last resort). There should be consistency, graded interventions for different infractions (one size does NOT fit all, and different forms of correction will work for different infractions and separate ages/levels of understanding), and an otherwise nurturing environment of loving care. for appropriate development.

      I have never seen one child who was not cherished at birth. Somehow we think such ‘coddling’ is not needed as they grow older. We have generations of children who’s lives shown differently.

    30. Amy Jo

      I believe the good Dr. K has some very good points. and, i wanted to make some silly/smart comment about the rest of us putting our “,lmnop’s” behind our names to show our licensure, education, etc… but it is God’s guidance, not man’s we continue to need and benefit from. I have heard it is 10 positives for one negative (whew! that’s a tough one too) Maybe one thing I will take away is the last paragraph in Dr. K’s comment. Part of the work I do involves working with behavior disordered teens – and it is the best part of my job. Sometimes a little consistency in caring and just being there changes a life. It also sounds like there might be consideration for some to seek resolution in the “leftovers” from their (our) past; foundin the place with all the answers -Go’d word. Good discussion here.

    31. Robert Gschwind

      Wow! This is about the Amish and their ways. Nothing anyone here says is going to change what they have decided is bestfor them. I can concur that I was never thrilled about being spanked and compared to the way it was applied to me, my children got very little of that type. There are some well used corners in the house though.

    32. “They also note that the book of Hebrews suggests that God disciplines Christians as a father disciplines a son and that such discipline yields “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).”

      There are several ways of looking at this verse, depending on one’s view of how God disciplines Christians. If I imagine the view of God in the Middle Ages, He sits on his His throne up in the heavens, watching for someone to sin, and then sends a bolt of lightening to strike that person down. This belief would leave the impression that humans are not good on their own, it is only when God “makes them nice” with the threat of punishment that people do the right thing.

      It was in the Middle Ages that the Anabaptists’ beliefs were formed, and they were persecuted for their beliefs as is witnessed in The Martyr’s Mirror, a book found in nearly every Amish home. Perhaps the persecution they endured explains why the Amish religion is still so punitive today. Punishment, or the threat of it, as a way of “making people nice” is very much a part of the belief system in Amish communities, which they instill in children from the time they can understand the concept. This is evident from Naomi’s comments about spankings. I had never heard the folding hands for prayer indicator of when a child is old enough to be corrected, but my severe grandmother had a similar one when she claimed that when a child is aware enough to put a comb to its head, then the child is old enough to be spanked.

      Many of the comments concerning Dr. Donald Kraybill’s article have focused on spanking as correction for children, versus no correction. There are many ways to correct a child — spanking being only one of them. The manner in which we do that is important in conveying the values we want to instill in our children. For instance, early on we need to establish that “no” means “no” and that the parent, not the child, is in charge.

      Going back to the verse about a father disciplining a son the way God disciplines Christians — in my opinion, the way God disciplines humans is by cause and effect, “what you reap you will sow.” If someone becomes a habitual liar, then people stop believing what that person has to say, even when she occasionally tells the truth. If I bully someone, that person is going to be afraid of me. And one thing I’ve noticed is that it is impossible to be afraid of someone and love her too. Therefore, if I want people to love me, I cannot bully them (including children). It also works in the positive — if I appreciate something and thank God for it, I find joy (I see gratitude and joy as one in the same). If someone does a good deed, she is sure to be a recipient of a good deed. In this way, we learn that what we reap we will sow.

      Why wouldn’t we teach our children that there are natural consequences to their actions also? This establishes true authority, without resorting to using our physical strength against a small, defenseless person. Spanking is taking the easy way out, in my opinion. Teaching natural consequences takes a lot more thought and discipline on the part of the parent. It seems to me anger or frustration would have to be present, otherwise why hit a child at all? For me, there is just this enormous disconnect between having affection for a child and intentionally hurting him.

      If people get the willies about the phrase “breaking the child’s will” there is a good reason for that. “Breaking the will” is exactly what the Amish mean. My father often used that term and he meant to do just that. I did not get spankings as a child — I got beatings. I cannot speak for all Amish parents, but I know with my own parents there was a great deal of anger and frustration that came with those beatings. The physical pain was nearly unbearable, not to mention the emotional turmoil that comes of being overwhelmed by someone so much bigger, stronger, and more powerful.

      If the Amish are successful in breaking their children’s will, it means the children become compliant because they are afraid to be otherwise, which makes them vulnerable to abuses.

      The most important aspect of Amish children’s compliance is that they will not question the Amish ways. When they become members of the church, they will be asked to give up their individuality to become part of the community twice a year in communion services. And those who have been “made nice” are happy to accommodate.

      Saloma Furlong
      No longer Amish by choice

    33. George

      As far as spanking, here are some more from the Bible:

      Proverbs22:15 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of dicipline will drive it far from him.”

      Proverbs 23:13-14: “Withhold not discipline from the child, for if you strike and punish him with the
      (reed-like rod), he will not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his oul from hell.”

      We all agree beating the heck of a child is not the intention.

    34. Peggy Pitcher

      With all of these thoughts said, lets go back to the article where Dr. Kraybil quotes “Naomi.” Go back and read it or the section of the quote that is in this article. I think Naomi, the Amish mother, has a good balance when it comes to Christian discipline of children. We (and the Amish) need more “Naomis.”

    35. Dena Casey

      In my experience as a parent, I’ve found that while some children respond to being spoken to, others have required different discipline. For instance my younger son ignored talks, took spanking in stride and we found that taking away his favourite toy or game system was the most effective method for getting his attention! My 3 other children got few spankings but they were given in love, not in anger and the children responded well and rarely committed the same offense! Striking a child or adult in anger is wrong and beating a child is completely off limits. This is simply my opinion based on my years as a parent. I don’t expect everyone to agree. Some things we simply must decide upon with God’s leading and go from there. In my experience many adults who don’t have children are very anti-spanking and while I know they sincerely believe they are right, they do not have the real life experience to validate their ideals.

    36. Steff

      MARK this si just for you i have had manny firm(verry firm) and i needed every one of them some children do not need them but i did verry badly

    37. Colleen

      I think it depends on the child. Some children you can just talk to; others need to be beaten within an inch of their lives. I was a good kid who recv a daily beating growing up. It just made me an adult who doesn’t trust.

    38. TealRose

      Spanking is just WRONG! If I hit my husband to teach him to take out the bin or not to swear, I would be guilty of assault. Our smallest and dearest members of society deserve the same love and care.

      My mother spanked me – I was terrified from the first time, the first time I was struck. Pulling me over her knee, ripping down my little panties and spanking my little bottom until I couldn’t sit for days taught me nothing except that she being bigger could demand what she wanted and hit me if she didn’t get it, that I was unloved. There is NO such thing as ‘spanking with love’ !!! It’s an oxymoron! My mum tried the ‘there it’s all over and I love you speech with me too – and I couldn’t believe her – she had demonstrated she hated me, didn’t love me and that I wasn’t safe with her. In my child’s mind that is all it taught. I became alienated from her and felt that way all her life – and as a 56 yr old granny my pulse-rate doubles and I feel sick when reading about children being spanked. I have been permanently traumatised.

      Just because a thing has been done for thousands of years, and is ‘traditional’ doesn’t make it right!! After all, we used to have slaves and beat women. Children were send to other families in the middle ages and in Roman times too, where they were beaten often to death and were raped as 7 year olds and younger for the adults pleasure and to ‘toughen up’ the little boys !!! NONE of us here I hope believe THAT is right – so neither should be spanking / hitting, paddling with wooden, leather and worse lexan paddles, switching, birching, whipping, tawsing, caning, using wooden spoons etc, humiliating and terrifying our little ones!

      Discipline means to TEACH right from wrong – something that is sadly lacking in parents today! By example, and with love. I did it so so can everyone else – and believe me my children were pretty tough!!!

      There is NO good reason to hit a child ever. It is just a lazy and mean way of treating your little ones. It is a nonsense to say the children here in Europe where there is no corporal punishment [as a rule of thumb] are more unruly and that those grown to adulthood are now complete hooligans and uncaring because they weren’t spanked etc – if anything America is the world leader in this trait .. and 95% if their little children are SPANKED and abused!

    39. Jim Kay

      Reply for Elin

      You say you’re from Sweden, where spanking has been outlawed. The law was enacted in 1972. You said the Swedish society has not crumpled. You should get on the internet and check some of the statisics provided by various Swedish government agencies responsible for maintaining records. Juvinile crime is up over 350%, with juvinile crime against other juviniles up over 600% since the law was passed. School drop out rates have skyrocketed. Alcoholism among young people has steadily climbed. All this information is readily available if you just take the time to look it up.

      I am in favor of spanking, when done properly. I was spanked as a child. My 3 children were spanked, as are my grandchilden, and we all have a good close family relationship.

    40. TealRose

      The whole of the New Covenant that Jesus brought to us, is to LOVE God, with all our heart, and to love one another and treat one another how we ourselves would like to be treated.

      I don’t want to be hit. I never wanted to be hit. It wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t right. It killed my love, respect and trust for my parents. I am 56 and I was a gentle kind child. They spanked me and I learned fear, pain, anger, hate and resentment. None of which I knew before they hit me. It also says in the Bible that fathers/parents are not to make their children frustrated/angry. It sure as anything made me frustrated and angry. It taught me nothing good.

      I don’t respect or trust anyone who hits me or anyone else.

      It’s about time pro spankers saw the other side of life = ie the damage you do. The emotional and physical pain. My parents never got my trust and respect back. They did it .. not me.

      There is NO such thing as spanking with love. It’s an oxymoron. If you hit while angry it’s really dangerous – and if you hit cold blooded .. well what kind of person ARE you to hit a tiny defenceless child like that ?? I certainly never felt loved. Ever.

    41. Alice

      amish children and spanking

      My three sisters and I were spanked growing up and always out of love. There was never any anger from our parents when we were spanked. Now, as parents ourselves, we spank our children, out of love. Just look at todays children, Maybe the parent should be spanked for not spanking their unrulely child.

    42. TealRose

      Maybe … the child should be truly cherished and cared for, and not hit. I don’t believe in love and hitting. You don’t hit your husband and say you did it out of love. So stop hiding behind this shameful abuse and say that you hit your child out of love. You may FEEL you do. I bet your little one feels differently. I know I did.

      I live in Europe where spanking and hitting children was banned decades ago, and contrary to Jim Kay’s ideas above, we do not live in hell with teens, children or young people running amok. In fact our crime rates are WAY below the States.

      I can tell you as a 56 yr old grandmother, I never hit my children, and they are fine adults – and my grandchildren aren’t hit either and are delightful children.

      Learn to discipline – to teach, not to hit. It’s lazy, cruel, and doesn’t work most of the time anyway. Why risk a child’s whole life and love for such a cruel thing ??

    43. A_Smith

      Christians often blamed

      I got my last one when I was in college. My parents weren’t Amish. They didn’t go to church all that often. It didn’t make much difference. I got mine much like the girls whose parents went church on a regular basis. My mom read books on raising girls. She also listened to her old-fashioned maternal instincts. When she said I had one coming, I knew better than to argue! My dad didn’t do it often, but when he said the time had come, I really dreaded it. Most of my friends felt the same way about their dads.

      The real problem with the Amish is that they aren’t mainstream. They read old books instead of new ones. They cling to old ways instead of new ones. Still, they’re not all that different. One of my friends is liberated Amish. She left the Amish community after she was unfairly punished in front of the man’s natural children to teach them a lesson at her expense. As a result, even though she would occasionally uses it, she is very cautious when it comes to spanking.

      One day her preteen daughter was acting out. When the mom told her daughter that she needed to “take a spanking,” the girl stood her ground as girls that age sometimes do when they get stubborn. Much as my mom would have probably done, the mom simply took her daughter by the arm, reached for a handy wooden kitchen spoon with the other, and proceeded to discipline her daughter very much as my mom might have spanked me at that age. The whole time, my friend never raised her voice as she patiently applied the chosen implement to her daughter’s bared sit-upon as the girl lay bent over her lap. By the time my friend finished with her daughter, I had concluded that a child care expert with a string of degrees could have had as positive an effect on a preteen’s attitude in such a short time! I never saw any hint of rebellion after that day. That spanking may have been a long time in coming, but it was effective!

      As with my friends’ moms when I was a girl, I don’t think Amish moms are all that different from other traditional minded moms. I think they’re just more honest about their methods.

      1. TealRose

        Calling a spade a spade

        The mother is lucky she didn’t get the spoon taken from her and applied forcefully to her. If you GIVE violence – you should expect to get it back. How obscene- how cruel – I don’t care HOW effective you think that was – it was NOT right. No more than if you had been taken in hand by your partner. Hitting is wrong period. It’s not Biblical and it’s ungodly. And satan is laughing his socks off all the time … every time some adult loses their sense, their empathy and hits a child. Just remember how he can hide as anything – and in this case he hides in the lies that are told to us by ignorant pastors – who haven’t a clue on how to read the ancient texts. If Christ said we were to ‘treat one another as we would expect to be treated, to love one another’ how on earth do you equate THAT with spanking a child with a piece of kitchen equipment ? You can’t !

    44. Jacqueline

      Use Non-Physical Forms!

      It never ceases to amaze me that when people talk about discipline they automatically think “spanking”. There’s a million-and-one ways to discipline your child using non-physical methods; the sky’s the limit! Think, people, think! Many children “act out” for a reason. You need to find out that reason.

      I am a born-again Christian & NEVER lay my hands on children; there’s no reason to. I’ve been involved in child-care in many different forms all of my life, including foster care. And now my daughter has grown up beautifully with a very loving heart & great disposition. I’ve always treated her with respect, the same as any other person, & she’s responded to that.

      Two things I want you to think about:

      1. If it’s NOT alright for your spouse to hit you, why is it alright for you to hit your child?

      2. Do you honestly think that Jesus would hit a child?

    45. Berks_Checkumert

      There is no such thing as “calm spanking” (unless you’re a sociopath.) Do not hurt your kids! It is wrong. Why is this even an issue? And, for those using the “rod” quote from the bible, I wonder how literal you take & how strongly follow the parts of the bible that forbid you from eating seafood or wearing fabrics made of two different kinds of cloth…

    46. MomOf3

      It all depends on the child, the parent, and the manner of discpline

      This debate always amazes me. Folks who were spanked in an abusive way as a child always think spanking is wrong; folks like myself who were nurtured by very loving parents who believe in spankings feel very sorry for those bratty kids who aren’t loved enough by their parents to be spanked!

      My three children are spanked when necessary: if they deliberately disobey a direct order, if they are sassy to a parent, or if they are violent in any way to someone. If you start spanking OUT OF LOVE not anger from a very young age (I mean, like small swats as young as 6-9 months for some little ones who start throwing temper fits at that age!), you will not have to give many spankings and rarely every after the child is old enough to hardly even remember it!

      When we are in public and my children see a kid throwing a fit, they stare in awe. Later, they will say something like, “Mom, did you see that really BAD kid in the checkout line? Her Mommy must not love her very much to let her be so bad! She REALLY needed a spanking, huh?”

      I see SO many folks spank their kids in anger, too hard, and SO inconsistently. And, the worse thing I think a parent can do is threaten punishment, spankings or other forms, all the time and rarely follow through. You know the type – you hear from them over and over, “If you do that ONE more time, I’m gonna spank you!” IF the spanking every happens, it’s usually WAY more than one offense later and frequently done in anger by an overly-frustrated parent at that point.

      I don’t think that every kid necessarily needs spankings as the form of discipline, but I do think every kids needs very consistent discipline from a very early age. Some kids need spankings, others may not. I will say that I was never ever grounded as a kid and I don’t believe in grounding my kids, either. I was taught that it is more loving to punish someone quickly, get it over with, and then forget the crime than to punish someone long term and have them and others be reminded of their crime for a long time.

      BTW, the Bible say spare the rod, HATE the child – NOT SPOIL! Hate is a pretty strong word, eh?

      1. TealRose

        While I agree totally that all children need consistent discipline, which you should know means ‘to teach’ not to hit, I can tell you that the amount of damage done to children who are ‘hit with love’ is incredible.

        I am almost 58 and spanking was common when I was a child, and it wasn’t right or necessary. I taught my children right from wrong without hitting them AND without grounding. It was hard, but parenting IS hard. When will you understand that hitting is always wrong and there just isn’t a ‘right way to hit a child’?

        I believe too that you should learn about children and ‘age related behaviour’ along with their development at certain ages – as NO baby is capable of a ‘temper tantrum’ at 6 – 9 months. Hitting ANYONE is abusive, hitting a tiny baby of that age is not only evil and but is USELESS and says way more about your parenting style and you.

        Instead of answering your child who is commenting on another in the check out line and telling them that hitting anyone, especially one smaller than themselves is NO way to solve anything, and that this little one who is ‘playing up’ may be coming down with something, has been dragged around shops for hours by uncaring adults, or maybe has something like autism – you seem to think that your children saying that this child ‘Really needs a spanking,’ is a great thing for them to say. Personally I find it hideous that a child would even think to hit another and that you have taught it that hitting is the way to help a child grow up!

        BTW … The Bible when talking about ‘the rod’ is talking about either the Rod of Law or a shepherds crook. Neither of which you would actually hit anyone with, especially the crook as they are heavy items that were used to hit the WOLVES and predators not on the sheep. On the sheep they were used to haul them to safety and to guide them on the path.

        Christ told us to love one another and treat others as we would want to be treated – most of us do NOT want to be hit!

        Christ also told us not to anger or frustrate children – and hitting them certainly DOES anger and frustrate them.

        He warned us not to hurt children … or it would be better for the person to have a millstone tied around their necks and to be tossed into the ocean… Pretty strong words eh ???

        Christ NEVER EVER hit a child, or told us to hit a child.

        Teach by demonstration. If you want and expect respect treat a child with respect and they will repay it to you. You as an adult do not deserve respect just because you are of majority or because you are a parent.

        1. Amish Children and Spanking

          You are right-on-the-money; I agree completely.
          Excellent comments!

    47. Valerie

      Biblical approach to spanking & discipline

      Sorry TealRose, I have to agree with Momof3. I don’t believe your scripture interpretation is accurate and I am not a big advocate of modern psychology when it comes to childrearing.
      I was spanked, I knew I deserved it, it never provoked me to anger, when done in loving discipline it is not wrathful. My children were spanked and when they saw other children misbehaving in public, they felt they needed spanked-neither of my children would agree with you that I should not have spanked them.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion on the matter, just disagree with your interpretations,there’s a big difference between disciplinary spanking & abuse. I won’t list all the scriptures here now, but here is an excellent link by Focus on the Family regarding spanking & discipline:(I’ll tell you what, I much preferred a spanking to being put on restriction)

    48. McManus


      I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments. Every family is different and every parent must do what’s right for them, so I don’t judge anyone for their parenting choices. However, I would NEVER hit a child for the very reasons you’ve so eloquently stated.

      While I would never quote the Bible to justify hitting a child, I do know that shame is a silent killer. While there are many forms of shame, there is no possible way to deliver a “spanking without shame.” Shame can have traumatizing results on adults, so imagine how that impacts a growing child.

      Every child is different, but you never know how that child is effected until it’s too late. It’s unfair to compare one child to another.

      I’m actually surprised at the amount of commentors that support public spanking. The idea alone is devastating to me. I couldn’t imagine that happening to a child.

    49. Iain

      Amish Children and Spanking

      I come from a bit different place than most of the commenters here. I was seriously physically abused as a child, so I know the difference between discipline and abuse. That said, I agree with those commenters, and apparently the Amish as well, that a swat across the buttocks to REINFORCE a lesson to be learned is far from abusive and in most cases pretty effective.
      I also know that most parents do not wish to administer corporal punishment, but do so because they love and care for their children’s welfare both now and in the future. For most children whose parents believe in spanking, they can count on one hand the number of times it happened. That’s good. It means that it was effective. They remember the issue,and they remember that it needed correction. It doesn’t take too many spankings to make a kid realize that if they don’t want those consequences, they need to make good decisions.
      I look around today at the children growing up without any seeming parental authority and the results are way too obvious. I agree with the commenter who said “the proof is in the pudding”.
      Parents have to look at each individual child and discipline them in the way that will be the most loving and the most effective….and yes, sometimes that means spanking.

    50. Marlene

      the jury is still out...

      Every family is different. I come from very conservative Mennonite roots. My father was probably never spanked, one of 9 on a large farm, if the parents didn’t admonish them, one of the siblings did the deed. My mother was spanked. I was spanked. My children were spanked. Some children in the family were spanked more than others. Some learned from it. Some needed it. Some got it from the first time out. It is impossible to pass judgment on others. Other forms of correction included fixing what had been broken, returning what had been taken, apologizing when wrong, reciting what had been forgotten, and removal from that which was causing bad behavior. Many of the bad things I didn’t do, I did because I feared the wrath of my parents, I feared embarrassing them, and it wasn’t until much later that I appreciated not doing things because they are harmful to me. I think that’s the bottom line, children need to learn to avoid dangerous behavior, and sometimes the ends justifies the means.