Sometimes we don’t do the best job of observing our own behavior. Some of the best work and most difficult is real-time observations of relatively rare behaviors. Rare behavior is hard to observe. Even harder to observe? Behaviors that we want to keep private.
Spanking toddlers is actually not that rare. Data from parents indicates that a large number of parents admit to hitting their children. Interestingly, it is most often when children are smallest. While one might argue least able to reason and negotiate, small children are also least likely to report the behavior. Anyway, it also turns out that a fairly high number of parents continue to hit their children into pre-teen and teen years.
There has been a fair amount of attention to spanking. The majority of research finds that it is an ineffective discipline strategy. It is an effective punishment in that it ends a number of behaviors in the moment. It does not, however, decrease the likelihood of the behavior in the future. In fact, it tends to increase the worst behavior: aggression.
Here are the links to two reports of research on spanking. I have not had success in accessing the original research reports so I am linking to the secondary sources. The study of parents intereacting with toddlers might get you to think about your own discipline challenges.
Really nice to see it that like ACT_Raising Safe Kids, interventions have advocated for education in child development to improve parenting.