A common theme we’ve noticed recently (mostly in emails) is that the default punishment to a negative action or behavior seems to be everyone’s favorite domestic discipline punishment — a spanking. It appears, at least to us through our interactions with fellow DD couples, that a number of HoHs automatically administer a spanking anytime a rule is broken. While spanking is highly effective most of the time, it can actually hinder the growth and progress of behavior correction and the relationship if used excessively.
There’s no question spanking is the fastest and most convenient way to hold the submissive partner accountable. Spanking only takes a few minutes (generally), it is an immediate and effective consequence to a behavior, and, provided the submissive partner is cooperative, it’s relatively easy to administer. There are certainly many “pros” to punishment spankings, which is why it’s so easy for an HoH to default to “spankings only” mode whenever problematic behavior arises.
The problem with spanking for every infraction is that, over time, spanking will become less and less effective. If the submissive partner is spanked for every mistake they make, big or small, a helpless mentality will develop in them. In the psychology world this phenomenon is known as “learned helplessness.”
In the context of domestic discipline, “learned helplessness” basically means that no matter what the submissive partner does wrong, regardless of how serious it is, they know a spanking will be the consequence. They have learned that a spanking is going to happen no matter what rule they break. So, “learning” that they’re helpless to that reality over time results in a, “Why try so hard to follow the rules? What difference does it make?” mentality developing in the submissive partner. If that mentality develops, problematic behaviors will never get corrected and spankings will happen more and more frequently. That wouldn’t be good.
“I’m going to get spanked anyway, so forget it — I’m going to do whatever I want.”
“I’m already late, which means I’m going to be spanked, so I may as well stay out for another hour or two now.”
These are just a couple of examples of the kind of mentality that can and will develop if spanking is literally the only consequence. It creates more and more problems in the relationship.
The good news is that preventing “learned helplessness” (in the context of DD) is simple: use a number of different punishments. Don’t spank for everything. Yes, varying the intensity of the spankings will help lessen the likelihood of “learned helplessness” developing, but it won’t completely prevent it. A variety of punishments need to be used, based on the seriousness of the offenses, so spanking isn’t the only consequence to every infraction.
As head of the household, the first step is to essentially create a scale of punishments, based on their seriousness/effectiveness/intensity. In the scale, the only concrete recommendation is that spanking is the ultimate and most serious punishment (more on that later). As with everything else in domestic discipline, it’s important the scale be “tailor made” for your own personal relationship.
Here’s an example:
- Corner Time
- Bedroom Time
- Line Writing
- Privilege Removal
- Essay Writing
As you can see, for this particular couple corner time is the mildest punishment while spanking is the most severe. Scales can be written down or mentally noted — it doesn’t matter as long as there is a number of specific consequences that are acceptable, understood, and consented to by both partners.
Once the scale is determined, the HoH then reserves the right to punish accordingly. What infractions are considered minor and what infractions are considered major? Correlate the seriousness of the infraction with the punishment scale. Perhaps a negative attitude warrants bedroom time. Perhaps going over budget warrants an essay to be written. Perhaps leaving the house door unlocked all night warrants a spanking. Those type of things are determined by each specific HoH, but those examples illustrate the importance of having different consequences for different infractions based on how serious those infractions are.
It’s also important and worth noting that the punishments can (and should) be intensified based on cooperation level and results. Meaning, if bedroom time didn’t help a negative attitude, the punishment can (and should) be escalated into something more severe. That sort of thing.
Again, the scale above is just an example and shouldn’t necessarily be used verbatim for your own relationship. The example scale more than likely doesn’t reflect how you and your partner feel about each specific punishment, either. Every couple is different, every submissive partner responds differently to certain punishments, and every HoH will administer them differently (which impacts their success). So, like always, adjust it according to your own relationship.
Finally, as mentioned before, spankings are recommended to be the most severe punishments. Spankings need to be regarded as the ultimate, most intense, and the absolute “worst” punishments to receive. That way the submissive partner will mentally relate spankings with things that absolutely positively cannot happen again, which will make spanking extremely effective.
It’s not easy, as an HoH, to administer alternate punishments when spanking is so convenient. It’s also difficult to administer a punishment when more “work” is required of the HoH (like making sure the submissive partner doesn’t use a removed privilege, for example). However, it’s important a variety of punishments be used so “learned helplessness” doesn’t develop in the submissive partner, and so that spankings remain as effective as they’re intended to be.