10 Things I Learned about Parenting from Supernanny

by | May 7, 2019 | Uncategorized | 32 comments

Merchandise is Here!

Did you know that Supernanny US has uploaded a ton of full episodes to YouTube?

Rebecca told me and I was so excited, because the girls and I used to love watching that show when they were teenagers. We’d sit on a Saturday morning with our breakfast and watch these parents with AWFUL kids learn how to control them and get less chaos in their lives.

If you’re having trouble getting your kids on a schedule; if your kids are whining a lot or rarely listen to you; if you get into power struggles a lot with your kids, it’s honestly a great show to watch!

My husband Keith is a pediatrician who sees a lot of families for behaviour problems, and he loves this as a resource, too! We’re watching all the episodes through and tagging them for different issues, so that if he sees a family for something, he can tell them, “Okay, you need to watch season 2 episode 6!”

Anyway, I thought I’d share 10 lessons that we can learn from Jo Frost’s intervention with families–lessons that it’s important for all of us to know.

1. Kids need routine

The way Supernanny’s method works is she spends a day or two watching the family and immersing herself in it so she can get an idea of where the strengths and problems are. Then she talks to the parents, and invariably she shows up the next morning with a new family routine plastered on a giant poster-board that is mounted up in the kitchen for everyone to see.

What routine does for families is it ensures everyone gets what they need. Whiny kids who are clingy and anxious calm down when they can rest assured that they will get their snuggle time with mom. Mom’s stress level drops when she can see that there is enough time in the day to get everything done and she will have some time to herself, too.

When we don’t live with a routine, everything gets mandated by what the biggest emergency is right now. And as a result, quiet time to do nothing together often gets left behind. And kids act up as a result.

2. You can get a better bedtime routine going. You can win this battle!

If you’re struggling with getting kids to bed, you are not alone. That is one of the most common issues that she deals with! And no matter how severe the problem, those kids end up sleeping in their beds.

She’s dealt with elementary school age kids who have never slept through the night, toddlers who bite and pinch every night, even children who refuse to even try to go to sleep until well past midnight. And for all of them, the method is pretty much the same. Fun bedtime routine with snuggles and books, hugs and kisses, and then leave. Kid comes out of bed, first time you say “Bedtime, darling,” then you just say “bedtime,” then you just put them right back. You don’t engage, you don’t explain, you just take them by the hand and put them in bed.

And within a few nights all those kids are sleeping.

3. Kids often misbehave because they’re bored

So many of the Supernanny episodes are of kids hitting each other or demolishing the living room, but if you take a look, it’s clear that they are bored. There’s nothing to do, and mom hasn’t taught them how to play together or what play looks like.

When our kids were small we lived in a tiny apartment. Every morning, at 9:30, we would leave for our daily outing. One day a week was the library; one day was a park or the farm (there’s an awesome farm in downtown Toronto!); two days a week were playgroup; one day was grocery shopping and errands. On our outings that were fun for the kids, they’d have my undivided attention. That helped them feel as if I cared about them and loved them, but it also tired them out so that when we got home, they’d be ready for down time, and they’d often leave me to myself for a bit.

4. Kids need you to spend part of the day interacting with them

When mom is always running around after the kids, trying to put out fires, it doesn’t work. You need to get proactive and actually plan things to do together. We had our outings, but we also had times where I’d set up the craft table in the living room and I’d fold laundry and talk to them while they played or painted. I never, ever, once played Barbie’s or dolls with my kids. Playing with your kids doesn’t mean that you have to do what they do. It just means you have to give them your attention.

For us, that meant reading books, or me talking to them while I was doing chores (and I’d often give them a bucket of water or spray bottle to play with at the same time, so we were doing things together).

Like this post so far? You should also check out:

5. Positive time is more important than discipline techniques

We often think that raising good kids is about having the right punishments. But that’s not actually the most important part: engaging with your children in positive ways is.

In almost every episode the family is prescribed “productive play” time with the kids. Time where you’re colouring, painting, playing board games, or at the park together just having fun while doing something that is helping you grow (in other words, not just watching a movie together). Because if you can have that kind of interaction regularly with your kids, you can often teach lessons while avoiding having to discipline because the kids are having fun, you’re having those conversations naturally, and they are “accidentally” being trained for good character. It’s not enough to punish Jack for not sharing with his brother–he also needs to be shown that sharing can be fun.

6. When kids don’t have your attention, they will act out

One episode of Jo Frost’s (Supernanny) that I love is with a mother who never put down her cell phone. Her children were tearing around the house and driving her crazy. They were picking on each other. They were messy. She didn’t know what to do.

When Supernanny talked to the 4 year old son, he said, “Mommy is on her phone quite a lot so sometimes we say BOO and then she drops it!” He was quite proud of himself for fixing the problem even if just for a short time.

As soon as this mom put limits on when she could be on her cell phone and instead started reading stories or just being emotionally available to her kids, 80% of the bad behaviour stopped overnight. The kids weren’t acting out because they were bad kids; it’s because they desperately wanted their mother’s attention and they just weren’t getting it unless they were being bad.

7. Many parents yell and sound strict but are actually quite permissive

Like Rebecca talked about in her book Why I Didn’t Rebel, Permissive parents are any parents where the kids end up getting to do whatever they want no matter what you say. It doesn’t matter how many threats you give, how many times you say “You’re grounded,” how many times you yell at your kids–if at the end of the day they did what they wanted with minimal consequences, you’re a permissive parent.

But often these parents feel quite strict because they are constantly telling their kids to stop doing something. They yell and scream and think, “I’m being strict, but it doesn’t do anything. I must just have a really willful child.”

Here’s the thing: threats and yelling do not count as discipline. In fact, one of the things Supernanny has many parents do is practice in the bathroom mirror how to talk to their children so they stop yelling. That’s right–someone comes in to teach them how to discipline their kids and one of the first things she says is, “Stop yelling!”

Yelling is not an effective parenting method. It’s just a fight for control.

What if I told you that not all teenagers rebel?

And what if I told you that a lot of typical parenting advice makes rebellion more likely?

I interviewed 25 young adults, trying to figure out what made them rebel or not.

8. Slapping children rarely works

Often parents slap their kids, whether on the hand or on the bum, because they’re at their last straw. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t actually work that well if at all. What slapping works for is stopping the behaviour right then and there, which is why so many parents use it. But what it doesn’t teach is why you shouldn’t do the behaviour. And often it seems very hypocritical to the child when they’re being told, “Don’t hit!” but Daddy just hit them.

Research has shown that children who are spanked are significantly more likely to be aggressive themselves when they are older. It has also shown that they often are more emotionally distant from their parents than kids who were not spanked. Supernanny deals with incredibly badly behaved kids–kids who bite, kick, punch, jab, and hit. She never prescribes spanking because, frankly, it doesn’t work. And there are much better alternatives that have proven effectiveness with none of the bad outcomes. I’ve got a post of 10 alternatives to spanking that are much more effective!

9. Parenting works better when you’re on the same page

Kids are smart. They know which parent to go to for different issues. So if you aren’t agreed on something, your kid will get away with it because they’ll just go to the “right” parent!

Parenting needs to be a joint venture. That doesn’t mean you should always just give in if you don’t agree with your spouse–it means you need to have real, honest conversations about what kind of people you want your children to become and what is helping and what is hurting you in that cause. Get on the same page, communicate about boundaries and punishments with the kids, and then live it out.

10. Kids need to be listened to.

When kids yell, there’s often an underlying emotion they can’t express. Helping them to identify that emotion can defuse the situation (“Andy, you look frustrated. Can you tell me why you’re frustrated?”)

When we’re upset and stressed, we run the risk of getting upset when the kids are just kids and have any negative emotion themselves. But their emotions matter, too. Helping kids talk about what they’re feeling, and manage those emotions, is far better than yelling at them for being angry or for being frustrated.

What’s really wonderful at the end of each show is that the families honestly enjoy being with each other again.

That’s what I felt with my kids, and looking back, I think it’s because I naturally did some of tehse things without realizing it. But the biggest ones, I think, is that I gave my kids focused, undivided attention at regular times everyday. They knew that I enjoyed listening and talking to them. They knew that I enjoyed being with them. And so they really enjoyed being with me, and they rarely acted up. Rebecca did have tantrums at times because she had trouble with emotional regulation (she talks about that in Why I Didn’t Rebel; she still struggles with anxiety or crying at the drop of a hat); and Katie had impulse control issues, but the big thing is that we could always talk about it, and they knew, even from a young age, that we genuinely enjoyed them.

When kids act up or are whiny, they can make the home so miserable to be in, and that’s exhausting for parents, and so hard on a marriage. So I thought some of you may need this today. Your relationships with your kids should be something that you enjoy, that brings you smiles, not stress. If it’s not, then ask yourself if learning some of these lessons may help.

No, the show isn’t perfect. But we hear all these parenting techniques, yet we rarely see them in action. Here’s a chance to see how to implement different things, and to see what doesn’t work–and what does. I’m glad the shows are finally out there for all to see!

10 Things I Learned about Parenting from Supernanny

What do you think? Have you ever watched Supernanny? Or which of these 10 points is most important, in your opinion? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. endlesscleaner

    This almost made me cry. This confirmed what I always have felt. My wife and I are bad parents. I knew it before but this made it so clear. I dont know how to tell my wife. I dont even know if she is aware but we suck as parents. We really do.
    We dont do anything that you mention here. I dont feel we were ready for kids. I wasnt. She was the one pushing for kids early but I wasnt ready. And I am not sure she was either.
    We have no routines for the kids. My wife has tried to make a food routine so that the nanny we have can follow it but thats it. No sleep routine or nothing. I have started to try a sleep routine and will continue to try. The problem is still that they sleep with my wife. They dont sleep until she wants and since she often wants to sleep late they also go to bed very late. This is purely our selfishness and our laziness fault. The easiest would be to make them sleep alone but its “too much work” for us. My wife likes sleeping with the kids also.

    We dont play much with our kids. We give them too much screen time because we are too tired. But also because we use our phones too much. I try to play with my kids. I love the days when i am free from work and feel good enough to play with them. But most day im just too tired. I try to play something but unless we are doing something really fun, I sometimes almost fall aslepp. I feeel so bad. I need to connect more with the kids. My wife doesnt play much with them either. We let them watch the screen instead. Its so wrong I know this but dont do much to change this because without the screen they want to play constantly. And that shouldnt be a problem but I feel too tired sometimes. I wish they would play more alone but they dont. They want me too play. But we need to stop using the phone so much and instead try to interact. But after work im so tired and all I want to do is to relax.

    We try to do things together with them. Go to places. But we need to do more of that.

    We are not on the same page. We rarely are. We tell them no but give things to them anyways. Specially sweets. My wife loves giving them sweets even if I disagree. I know we need to change and I try to decide to do so much better but im always too tired. I know this is bad. Thank you for this article. I wish I could take my job as a parent more serious. I try , I try to do as much as possible for my kids but we arent doing the right things. I dont know what to do.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry you’re in such a rough place! I really am.

      But you know–the cool thing is that you can change these things relatively quickly. And it isn’t always huge, huge things. It’s just adding some intentional time into the day.

      Like I said, I never really played with my kids, either. Playing is boring. I never could do it.

      But we could do outings together, where I just talked with them nonstop. We could go to the museum or the park or the library. And then I just involved them in things I was already doing. If I was doing dishes, I’d give them a small bucket of water and a LOT of suds and then a bunch of measuring cups and a cloth (I’d put everything on top of a towel). Sure, it made some mess, but I got the dishes done, and they felt like they were “helping” (sometimes I’d even give them dirty plastic dishes to wash). And we’d talk the whole time. So they knew they had my attention. Or if I was folding laundry, I’d give them the facecloths and dischcloths and tea towels to fold. They loved doing that! Again, it involved them in my world and we could talk.

      What about watching an episode or two with your wife and just talking about what kind of family you want to have? How do you want your home life to feel? I know parenting is tiring, but it’s actually LESS tiring if you get routines down that your kids know and understand and expect, because then they tend to be more cooperative.

      I’ll say a prayer for you!

    • Maria

      My 22-month-old sleeps with us. We are got pregnant unexpectedly and are still living in our starter apartment, and there is literally no room for a crib or different bed. We are working on saving up a down payment for a house, but for her entire life so far, there has simply been nowhere else for her to sleep. When she was little and napped multiple times a day, we would just take her to bed when we went; she was getting enough sleep even if we went to bed late. Once she worked down to 1 nap a day, though, we knew that to get enough sleep, she needed to go to bed earlier than we did. So at her bedtime, we have a routine. She gets an overnight diaper (we cloth diaper, so it’s different from her daytime ones), we put on pajamas, we brush her teeth, and then either me or Daddy takes her to our bed. There we read a book, sing a song, say a prayer, then kiss her goodnight and leave the room. The first night we did that she came back out to us crying several times, fell asleep in our arms, and was transferred back. The second night she cried for 5 minutes but didn’t come out. The next night she cried for one minute. She hasn’t cried since then. Sometimes it takes her a while to fall asleep (we can hear her talking to herself–it’s so cute), but she doesn’t leave the bed. Then when we go to bed we just crawl in on either side of her and she picks one of us to snuggle with. So even if you can’t talk your wife out of co-sleeping just yet, you can still put the kids on a sleep schedule. It will probably make the transition out of your bed easier in the future (once they are used to going to sleep without your wife there), and that hour or two of no kids in the evening is AMAZING.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Great tips, Maria! Thank you. And best of luck with that downpayment!

    • Logan

      If as parents we feel we are not doing enough or need improvements, we can do something about it! As an adult, I struggle with establishing routines. I do not want that to be the case with my children. There are a lot of free resources you can find on Pinterest if you type in things like “behavior system home,” “clip chart,” “preschool routines” or whatever. There was one I found recently that I expect to use to help with the routines and I plan to go get a cheap picture frame and hang them up so my kids have a visual with pictures of what they should be doing. This takes the “command” aspect out of much of it.

      Have a look at this,

      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Those are seriously cute and a great idea, Logan! I’m going to bookmark that for when I have kids and need it!

  2. Emily

    I love Supernanny.
    Mostly I love that no matter how awful the kids are or how *old* the kids are, there is always a way to turn things around.
    There is always hope!

    My own kids are bigger now, and one in particular is testing limits at the moment (can I be home 15 minutes later? half an hour?). My husband and I have agreed that we are not willing to renegotiate an already agreed curfew. Curfew is set based on what the activity is, and is not unreasonable for a child that age.
    Because teens don’t test boundaries hoping they’ll move. Teens test boundaries to make sure the fence is nice and strong.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely agree, Emily!

  3. Victoria

    Thank you for this post! I just discovered Supernanny on YouTube a couple weeks ago and am obsessed! It’s really amazing to me how most of the issues––from bedtimes to behaving in public––boil down to (a lack of) routine, consistency, engagement, positivity, and communication (between the kids AND husband & wife).

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep! That pretty much sums it up.

  4. EM

    Yes! I’ve never watched it but this is all so true. I used to be in a major power struggle with my oldest who is VERY strong willed. I wish I had learned sooner that yelling is completely ineffective – it actually seemed to be a reward for him. If he could get mommy to lose his temper, he had succeeded, even though I was good at never giving in to what he wanted. I am still not perfect, but I am much better at calmly holding my ground when he challenges me. And I can tell that even though he’s rolling his eyes, he respects me deep down when I don’t lose my temper. It is hard parenting a kid who is so different from me. I hate upsetting people and he seems to thrive on it! But I’m happy to say he is a fantastic kid and he really respects teachers & coaches at school, so he must be learning something.

    And routine is SO important! I am not naturally a routine person, but I am so thankful that my hubby and FlyLady helped me learn how to do it. We could never survive with 4 boys if we were living in my natural chaos state!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, getting in that yelling power struggle never really helps! I pray that you’ll have strength. 🙂 It’s great that you’re on such a great journey now.

  5. Kathryn

    Yes, love all of these parenting tips!! They’re so great!! We need more of this. Thank you so much for all the work you put into all of your posts!!
    I would like to throw out some thoughts about number 8 though. What if there’s a difference between spanking and slapping your child?
    I know that spanking has been taken way too far where it’s actually abuse, and that’s wrong and it makes me very angry. I’ve seen it happen. But I’m not talking about that kind of spanking.
    For example, when me and my two older siblings were growing up my parents would take us into a separate room to spank us. After the spanking they would hug us and talk to us about what we had done wrong. Because they took the time to hug us afterwards, we felt their love and knew they weren’t angry at us. But when my younger siblings came along (I have 9 siblings) it seemed like my parents got lazy. They would slap them when they did something wrong, kinda anywhere on their body. There were no hugs for them, instead they would get yelled at that it was wrong for them to do that. This created anger and resentment and chaos.
    I don’t know, maybe there’s no difference but to me this is the difference between spanking or slapping your child, and how it can be effective or not. Any thoughts? Because I do want to change my thoughts if I am wrong.

    • Natalie

      That’s what my parents did too. I was a very strong willed child and definitely needed to have the law laid down for me lol. When my mom spanked me (my dad rarely did. He was not the disciplinarian), I’d be crying in anticipation of the punishment and she’d be upset at my disobedience. But she’d always take a moment to calm herself and say something like, “You know why I have you punish you. It’s because you ____ when I asked you to ____, and you are the child and I am the parent and you are to obey what I tell you to do. I am not doing this because I am angry at you. I am doing this because I love you and because you need to see that what you did was wrong and will not be tolerated.” And then I’d get a good swat or two (usually no more than 5) on the bottom (over my clothes so there was no humiliation or skin contact), and then we’d hug and I’d tell her I was sorry. I grew out of the need for spankings pretty quickly because, for me, associating my actions with the punishment that would ensue was motivation enough to control my actions. I think the type of discipline you use, though, really depends on the child.
      For example, my FIL used to just make a terrible, loud snapping sound with his belt and that’d whip my husband into shape lol. Just the thought (& accompanying sound) of being spanked with his dad’s belt, even though it never actually happened, would correct his behaviour immediately.

      • Natalie

        And here’s a funny spanking story you all might enjoy:
        When I was probably 11 or 12 (maybe even 13… either way, old enough to know better and getting too old for spankings), I was picking on my younger brother or something and just generally not being nice and acting immature and very defiant. My mom tried to take my privileges away and I just gave her some snide comment and acted like it wasn’t a big deal… “you call that a punishment? Ha!” sort of attitude. So she got of the wooden spoon and said, “well, since you’re acting like a child, I guess you’ll be punished like a child.” As she landed the first spank on my bottom, I tightened my glutes and the head of the spoon cracked and snapped off of the handle. I turned around to look at her with tears in my eyes, and half crying / half laughing said, “I have buns of steel.” Obviously she was still angry at me and I did get privileges taken away, but that episode ended in laughter and hugs. And I was never spanked again. 😜 haha

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Hey, Kathryn! I thought I’d chime in since I’ve studied spanking a LOT. I started my psychology degree very pro-spanking, actually, and didn’t buy all the arguments at the beginning. But after actually delving into these studies and talking to experts who work with kids with behavioural disorders literally every day and seeing what they do, I really see no reason to ever spank your kid if you want effective discipline.

      Research shows that even when spanking is done “properly,” the bad effects occur much more frequently than if other discipline techniques were used. Spanking is effective in stopping behaviour immediately, but the long-term effects are not good. Research consensus is that at best, spanking does nothing long-term. At worst, it can damage your relationship with your kid, result in increased risk for depression or anxiety for your child, and increase aggressive tendencies among other negative effects.

      A lot of people have good relationships with their parents despite the spanking, and that’s why spanking stays so prevalent. But research does show that it is in SPITE of, not BECAUSE of. And when there are other methods that do not lead to those negative outcomes and actually have positive outcomes, there is no reason that spanking needs to be a part of discipline.

      • Kathryn

        Thanks Rebecca Lindenbach for your thoughts. I guess I never thought about the part about “having a good relationship inspite of, not because of”.
        I really appreciate all your thoughts. You have great points there. Thank you for your reply!!
        And I just want to take this moment to thank you personally for all the work you put in to help with this blog. I love all your thoughts and advice you.
        You all are such a great inspiration !!!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Aw, that’s great, Kathryn! I do want to say that slapping and spanking can be different, too. I agree with Rebecca that there are much better techniques than spanking, but indiscriminant slapping I think is much worse (and that’s what many parents do–constantly slapping and swatting their children). It’s just so harmful. And it doesn’t really curb behaviour.

          The big thing is that we want to teach kids to WANT to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not just to avoid punishment. And so we have to train character, not just train outward behavior. Spanking addresses outward behavior, not character, and that’s why looking at other techniques that have been shown to work better in the long run is a better idea.

          • Kathryn

            Very good point there, Sheila!!
            Also thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on this.

  6. Francie

    This is great!! It’s also super funny to me because that’s basically the lessons I’ve been learning with my CAT no joke lol. she used to drive me absolutely bananas. She would walk around crying at me ALL DAY, getting into everything, shoving her face in my food/trying to stick her paws in my plate, using the things I would snap at her for as the FIRST resort to ask for what she needed. I would get so frustrated with her on a daily basis and sometimes I would yell and get ragey and try to throw her on the porch but none of that helped. What helped was having a routine, regular attention, and consistently enforcing boundaries. Now she’s still vocal but not yelling and acting crazy all day. she knows now she’ll be fed at specific times, that she has my attention in the morning at breakfast, that she gets cuddles at night, she knows where and what she’s allowed, where she sleeps, all of it. And she’s SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE! We can actually enjoy each other now. It’s amazing. And it came just in time too, I’m 24 weeks pregnant and I didn’t know I needed to do any of this. Thanks so much for this list, I have it bookmarked now! (;

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Awesome, Francie! I love that about your cat. 🙂

      And I want to point something out: when we do these things, the kids really do get much more enjoyable. Sticking to a routine may seem like work, but it makes life so much easier in the long run, because the kids are much less stress. I hope people get that! And glad you learned it on a cat before your baby comes (Congratulations, by the way!)

      • Francie

        Thank you Sheila! (: I’m grateful I got to practice on a cat first too. I believe it’s the grace of God. I asked Him for help with this and I depend on His grace daily. I knew I would need to do that so much more with my child, but when I prayed I did not expect this experience to be such a far-reaching blessing in disguise – to now not only enjoy my cat, but to also in turn be a better person with better habits and be a little bit more prepared for the future (:

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Love that, Francie!! Too funny–I’ve found the same with our little rescue terrier! Animals really are great teaching tools!

  7. Emmy

    Please do not spank your childrenm Maybe you’ll still have a good relationship with them despite of spamking but maybe not. Abd eveb though you might still have a good RELATIONHIP that will not automatically mean no harm is done to the child.

    I have seen spanking to great harm in my family. It has damaged our relationships whith some of our children.

    Spanking has also damaged my relationship with my husband. I was aganst spanking in the beginning but he pushed for it because it was “biblical” I wish I had never listened to him.

  8. Bevan

    While I can definitely see how impulse “slapping” of a child would not be fruitful and would actually be quite harmful, my husband and I found a controlled 1 or 2 spank on the bum with calm explanation and loving, restorative hugs and conversation afterward to be incredibly effective with our (now young adult) five children. When asked, each one of them would say that the spankings they received were beneficial and there is no resentment toward us as parents. While there most definitely is abuse and corporal punishment void of love and close relationship, please do not discount the times when it is done well.

  9. Kate

    Sheila and Rebecca, i know both of you don’t advocate spanking but i need more convincing Biblically on why it’s wrong since the Bible mentions it. Psychology isn’t convincing enough for me because i can find faults in psychology too. My simple question is why would the Bible mention it if it’s not effective?

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Hey, Kate! I actually did research on the theology behind spanking, too, and here’s what I found:

      1. The word “child” in the verses about spanking is actually better translated to adolescent male. Boy 13 or older. Hebrew has multiple words for children, some gender neutral, some gender specific, and age-specific ones. The word used in those particular verses and the corresponding ones refers to an adolescent boy. There is literally no mandate anywhere in the Bible that would even suggest you spank a girl ever, even in the verses that are often used to advocate spanking children. As well, these verses are clear that this is a pubescent boy–this is not a 5 year old. But Christian circles advocate spanking CHILDREN of BOTH sexes. So we’re already missing the mark entirely just with our skewed interpretation of the word “child” since we just don’t have as many words for it in English.

      2. The corporal punishment they talk about isn’t actually with a hand to the buttocks–it’s with a rod. So if we are to listen to the Bible, we need to hit kids with sticks. Not spank them. Another example on how our idea of “biblical” spanking isn’t actually biblical.

      3. The cultural context of the time is important. The warning is given so that parents with rowdy teenagers would not have their son go off unwarned about the reality of the consequences of their actions. People were executed in those times for many offences. If you have a wayward son, it was better to hit them for something that could get them killed than allow them to remain unpunished in that cultural context and have the courts decide to stone them. That’s the context of those verses; it’s not about a 4 year old not wanting to share.

      If you want to read more about it, here is one of the resources I have found quite helpful.

      Overall, Christians often say, “Spanking works because the Bible says we should do it.” But when you look at what punishment looks like in the “Spanking” verses and how we advocate spanking, we have it all wrong. If we wanted to actually spank the way the Bible says to, we should be beating teenage boys with rods. But obviously we don’t anymore because we live in a different political and cultural climate. That’s why it’s so important to take context into consideration with these kinds of things. The overall message that I take from these verses is that it’s better to do the discipline yourself and put in the hard work, even if it’s not fun, than to have your kids grow up to face the consequences of being undisciplined adults.

      I hope that helps!

      • Kate

        Thank you for responding and that does help immensely! And i agree that if God was hanged up on spanking He would have mentioned it more than ONCE. But i do see other forms of discipline even in the Scriptures. So i’ll chew on what you said and the links you provided. Thank you! 🙂

    • Emmy

      One place where the Bible clearly mentions spanking or corporal punishment or whatever you wish to call it and also clearly instructs how it should be done, is in the Law of Moses. When someone is found guilty of a crime that asks for corporal punishment, he should be laid down in precence of the judges and receive as many lashes as fits to the offence, but not more than 40 lashes “so your brother may not be humiliated in your presence”.

      It was all about punishing an adult that had committed a real crime, and the punishment was given after a trial and on courd orders.

      If small children were meant to be spanked there would be at least some instructions on how it should be done in the Law of Moses. The Law is very detailled about reating, drinking, washing abd everything. If spanking of children woud be necessary, certainly Moses would have had something to say about it: From which age on? For which kind of offences? How many smacks ? What implement to be used, if any?

      Because Moses has no such instructions perhaps we can conclude small children are not to be beaten.

      Jesus does not tell parents to beat their children nor does Paul. On the contrary, Paul warns parents not to make their children bitter, angry or fearful.

      I don’t believe we should go back to this, bi

      • Emmy

        I don’t believe we should go back to the Law of Moses and start to beat criminals instead of putting them into prison. I only meant to say: if spanking of children would be permitted or askt for, that would be a very important thing to give instructions about, and why does Moses have nothing to say about it?

  10. Lindsey

    Which episode was that with the cell phone? I fight that battle all the time, and would like to watch it.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think it was part of a series she did Called Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance. But I don’t remember which episode! (the whole thing is good, though! And it’s on YouTube, too!)


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