For donations Click Here

Is it appropriate to spank a child for chutzpa or defiance?


Is it appropriate to spank a child for chutzpa or defiance?


Thank you for your question.

In the topic of chinuch, the cardinal rule is as the posuk says “chanoch lenar al pi darco”, “teach a child according to his way”. Therefore, each child and situation is different and has to be weighed by the parent or teacher in an individual fashion. However, I can express some thoughts on the matter.

  1. About 25 years ago, I asked one of the gedolei hador, and a professional mechanech- Horav Zeidel Epstein zt”l, a question regarding my then young daughter. His answer to me was, “I can tell you what I would have do when I was bringing up my children, however the correct approach for nowadays is different. When my children were growing up, a father was a father and a mother was a mother, nowadays a parent is a “meheica teisi”- (meaning that parents nowadays are lacking authority in the child’s eyes). If this was his answer to a random chinuch issue, how much more applicable is it if the child is chutzpatik to the parent.
  2. Before punishing a child, the parent or teacher must understand where the child is coming from. Maybe the child, said or did what he did by mistake, and now the child regrets it? Maybe the child doesn’t realize that his reaction was chutzpadik? Children don’t see things the same way adults do, and the child might just not have any idea that what he did was disrespectful. The child may have to be told in a matter-of-fact way, that this is not the way to speak. As a side point, in general, the way for parent to inculcate that the child should not to be brazen to a parent is for the mother to protect he father’s honor, and the father the mother’s respect. It is much more effective than the parent punishing or reprimanding the child for what might be perceived as “for his own benefit”. Therefore if the child talks with chutzpa to the mother the father should tell the child, “we don’t talk that way to a mother” etc.
  3. If a child will be chutzpadik to a parent and the parent will hit him for it, the child is not receiving the message to be more respectful to the parent, rather to be smarter next time and don’t start up with someone bigger than you! He did not receive the message, that talking respectfully especially to a parent is a Jewish value, rather when someone starts up with you whack them back.
  4. I once heard in the name of R’ Pam zt”l, regarding a child that was chutpadik to a Rebbi in school. That the Rebbi has to check maybe his actions are the cause of the child being chutzpadik? Maybe he is acting and treating the child in way that is causing the child to relate to him in this manner!

Hashem should help us, and send us all hatzlocha with the challenging job of bringing up our children correctly.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *