Some parents wonder at what age they should stop spanking their child.
My answer: Age zero. I have a limited sample size, but here’s my story:
I was spanked as a kid. My father did it sparingly, only at ages 4 to 10, where it could conceivably be useful. He explained why he was doing it in advance — he never struck me in anger or spontaneously. He hit hard enough to sting, but never hard enough to bruise. He only hit me on my buttocks. It was always for a specified purpose, and never demeaning. I was never made to feel like a “bad kid.”
When I was about to become a father for the first time, my wife and I discussed the issue at length. She had a similar experience growing up. We agreed that we would do the same for our children. Our rationale was that “sometimes it’s the only way to get the kid’s attention.”
But two minutes after my son was born, my wife looked at me in the eyes and said (what seemed out of the blue), “You’re never going to touch this child.” It was the post-birth oxytocin flood speaking, but she meant it.
And so we didn’t.
It required a greater degree of creativity and engagement to discipline without spanking, but in retrospect, that’s a feature, not a bug.
After five kids (okay, I’m not exactly through the process with all five), it hasn’t been tougher or easier. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted. But we haven’t hit our kids. And the results are in line with what the research says.
It’s for the better. Don’t hit your kids.
This post originally appeared on Quora.