Is it okay to leave the number of swats open ended?


He finally pushed it too far. Even though he is eleven and never had a spanking, he swore at his mother one too many times and I decided something had to change. My problem is that he struggled as I started to spank him. I told him that if he stayed still for two swats, I would stop. He couldn't stay completely still, but at least he appeared to try. Yet I'm wondering if I did the right thing. What if he kept fighting me?


Even our own justice system considers open-ended punishments to be cruel. Imagine a judge saying, "I sentence you to jail until it appears to me you are sorry enough for your actions." Such a sentence would not be upheld because it is indefinite. Sure a judge might sentence someone to ten years but if good behavior is shown, reduce the sentence, but at least the sentence had definitive maximum.

When a child breaks a rule and the appropriate punishment is deemed to be a spanking, there should be a set number of swats that is defined in advance and not when tempers are hot over the issues at hand. You might decide during the administration of the punishment to reduce the punishment. But you had decided what was fair and just in advance of the need to punish.

But the same is true with any punishment, not just spanking. You should not ground a child until you feel like letting him off. He broke a rule, grounding was deemed to be the appropriate punishment, and a set number of days was judge to be an appropriate length of time. You might reduce the "sentence" for good behavior, but the limit is known at the start.

What is missing in your actions is justice.