We’ve all been there. Your toddler just ran into the street for the thousandth time today. It’s past nap time, nobody slept well last night, and you are are the end of your rope. He’s now whining and laying on the ground, refusing to get up and move. It is this moment that makes you reconsider ever decision you ever made leading to becoming a parent. The urge is there; your parents would have spanked you. This situation is unbearable. It’s time to teach him a lesson about respect!

I get it. I’ve been there. Toddlers are HARD to deal with. They have big emotions and not enough words or ways to deal with how they feel.

Let’s get real though. Not only is spanking abusive (yes, I said it, spanking is ABUSE), but it’s ineffective. There is no reason to spank. Spanking will not make you feel better, and your child’s behavior is not going to improve from spanking.

Spanking doesn’t work because it’s not a natural or logical consequence to anything they might be doing that drives you crazy. As adults, we would never spank each other (unless it’s fun and consensual) even in the most extreme circumstances. Your toddler will not learn anything from it, because he can’t make the connection between action-result.

Also spanking is abuse.

Here are five things you can do if you feel the urge to spank:

Be Honest

Be totally honest with your child. Say, “Wow I am feeling really angry right now because of how you are acting. I love you, I need a minute to calm down and feel less angry.”

Step Back

Step out of the situation. Don’t do it judgmentally, just explain you need a moment alone. Let your child fuss if they need to, let them know you are nearby if they need you and you will be bac


Hug your child instead. Chances are if emotions reach the point you feel like spanking, neither of you are in control. Reconnect, and hug if you and your child are both open to this.


Talk it out. Use “I” phrases. “I feel overwhelmed and scared when you run into the road. It’s not safe and I won’t let you do that.”

Ask for Help

Ask for help from your spouse, family, or even another parent nearby. Let them take the lead with your toddler for a few minutes while you get grounded.

Times that seem to call for spanking are actually opportunities. Opportunities for you to connect with your child. These are the moments when you can teach him how to deal with his emotions in a healthy way. Your urge to spank is rooted in not knowing any other way. You are the hero of this story; you can break the cycle of abuse by choosing to parent differently.

Next time emotions are running high and you are feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and a step back. Show your child the healthy way to manage their emotions by example. This is hard, but the results are worth the effort.