Wow...just catching up on this topic.
Both my kids received swats when they were younger, but it was ONLY after all other punishments failed to work. Grounding, taking away of privileges, canceling fun planned events...these were all things that were used first. If the behavior continued, we kept turning it up a notch, until the ONLY thing left was swats for the repeated offense. We always explained to them why they were being punished...with all punishments...and what we expected their behavior to be. We also made it a point after the swat to hug the child, as we reassured them we loved them, we just cannot tolerate the behavior.
Now, swats were NEVER given for minor stuff...I mean, if they forgot to take the trash out for the 50th time, that didn't warrant swats. Lying and disrespect were the offenses that would eventually lead to a swat. As much as possible, we tried to make the punishment fit the crime, and for the most part that worked. Didn't do your spelling work and failed the spelling test because of it? The next week you were writing the words an extra 5 times each (and I say extra, because the teacher usually had them write each word 5 times...so they would have to write each word a total of 10 times as punishment for not doing their work on the last spelling week). Since we have 2 kids that were with us full time (my step-daughter is only with us on weekends), the chores were split between the kids. If one didn't do their chores, then the next day, they had to do all the chores, and the child that did the chores as they were supposed to got a day off. This was especially the case because we rotated the chores...so if my daughter didn't do dishes on Monday when it was her day, there was no reason my son should have to do 2 days worth of dishes when he did his chore of taking out all the trash. In high school (as one is now grown and on her own and the other is still in high school), if you don't make curfew, then for the next month your curfew time is made earlier. It is a bit embarrassing to have to be home by 8 or 9 on a Friday night when all your friends get to stay out until 10 or later. If we call you while you are out and you don't answer the phone or immediately call us back, then you lose the privilege of going out for a while. Fail a class, you may also lose your going out privs. These are all things that the kids know from the get go, so if they choose to break the rule knowing the consequence, they must think breaking the rule is worth the consequence, and that is something they have to live with.
My kids have not had easy lives...both of their lives started out rough. My daughter's father split when I was still pregnant, and my son's father (whom I married) slowly abandoned my son shortly after we divorced after 5 years of marriage. My ex-husband was also abusive. Both my kids were later adopted by my husband, but the damage had already been done...it is tough on a kid to have a parent turn their back on them! The feelings related to the abandonment created their own issues, but in the end, they are both pretty good kids...even with the occasional spankings. My daughter went through her really rough spell, but has turned her life around...went back to high school and graduated (not a GED, but actually walked back into the high school at 20 years old and finished...took a heck of a lot of gutts), is now working, and is engaged to a great guy. She has surely beat the odds...being the child of a teen parent, and the statistics that say she was more likely to become a teen parent herself....no kids at age 20. My son is well on his way to getting a scholarship to play football at a Division I college, and I seriously believe his dream of playing for the NFL will be a reality for him. He wants nothing to do with alcohol or drugs after seeing what they did to his father, and just has his eyes set on his dream. Not bad, in my opinion, for a couple of kids who got spankings when they were younger.
"Not all who wander are lost!" J.R.R. Tolkien
"I'm not God. I've seen His job, and I don't want it!" GothicBfly
"You grow up the day you have your first real laugh -- at yourself." E. Barrymore