A recent study concluded that children who were spanked before they reach the age of 6 were likely to do better in school and to do more volunteer work than kids who weren’t spanked. Parents evidently have to stop spanking at a relatively early age, however — the study found that kids who are still spanked into adolescence are likely to have behavioral problems. (No kidding!)
When I was a little kid, spanking was pretty common. I’m confident that I was spanked as a child, although I really don’t remember any specific spanking incident. (That probably just means that the spanking occurred before age 6, when according to the study it would have had the maximum positive impact.) In our family, kids who were bad might get an open-hand swat on their clothed behind from Dad. We called it “the spanking board.” It was embarrassing, and the psychological impact of dreading the trip to the spanking board was much worse than the sting of the spank. I think it was an effective, and rarely used, disciplinary tool. And I have no doubt that there were times when we kids were out of control and the only way to get our attention and obedience was a swat on the behind. I don’t think it was psychologically damaging in any way. We’ve all grown up to be reasonably well-adjusted adults.