Is It OK to 'Hot Sauce' Kids?

ByABC News via logo
August 24, 2004, 8:22 AM

Aug. 24, 2004 -- The practice of "hot saucing" a child's tongue as a method of discipline may seem cruel to some parents, but those who regularly use the punishment say it teaches their charges valuable and long-lasting lessons.

Lisa Whelchel, who played Blair on the popular 1980s TV series Facts of Life, is an advocate and practitioner of "hot saucing." Whelchel, the author of Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline, says the practice worked for her children when other disciplinary actions did not.

"It does sting and the memory stays with them so that the next time they may actually have some self-control and stop before they lie or bite or something like that," Whelchel said on ABC News' Good Morning America.

Whelchel says she would have never used hot sauce to discipline her three children if it caused lasting damage. The actress-turned-home-schooling mom suggests using just a dab of hot sauce, placing it on your finger, then touching your finger to the child's tongue.

Boston family therapist Carleton Kendrick says he is vehemently against hot saucing or corporal punishment of any kind.

"There's no room for pain and humiliation and fear in disciplining healthy children," Kendrick said. "I think it's a rather barbaric practice to say the least."

[In a non-scientific ballot on, 35 percent of voters said they feel hot saucing is an acceptable form of discipline. Sixty-five percent of voters said the practice of hot saucing was not. More than 8,000 votes were cast in the online ballot.]

Whelchel says she's been aware for some time that many people are strongly opposed to hot saucing, (which was covered in The Washington Post earlier this month) a form of discipline that's been around for decades, but she says she believes in many different creative ways to discipline, including this one.

"It's totally against popular opinion in culture these days," Whelchel said. "I prefer my child receive a small amount of pain from my hand of love than to encounter a lot more pain in life," she said.