"Hot Saucing" as a method of child corporal punishment
"Hot Saucing" advocates.
Carleton Kendrick, a family therapist from Boston, MA, recommends against the
use of hot saucing. He said that it can burn the child's esophagus and cause
their tongue to swell. This can create a potential choking hazard. He said:
are many different kinds of hot sauce on the market, and parents who say they
know the dilution to use so it won't sting, or say they only use one drop, are
wrong. It's done because it hurts. It stings. It burns. It makes you nauseous."
Giorgio Kulp, a pediatrician in Montgomery County, VA, says that the use of hot
sauce on children is dangerous because of the risk of swelling and the
triggering unknown allergies. He notes that "Every child's reaction,
physically, is different." So it might be safe for one child but not
An associated method of inflicting pain on children is the force feeding of
hot-peppers. Two child psychologists reported that this "can result
in anaphylaxis or cause significant burns and damage to developing tissues
in the mouth, esophagus, intestinal walls, stomach, and colon."
Hot saucing advocates:
Lisa Whelchel was a Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer. She played the role "Blair" in the television program "Facts
of Life," is a home-school mom, an Evangelical Christian, a
motivational speaker, and
the author of the book: "Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday
She said that"For lying or other offenses of the tongue, I 'spank' my kids'
tongues. I put a tiny drop of hot sauce on the end of my finger and dab
it onto my child's tongue. It stings for a while, but it abates. It's
the memory that lingers!" 1
She feels that the practice worked for her children when other disciplinary
actions failed. Appearing on ABC News' Good Morning America, she said:
"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....I prefer my child receive a small amount of pain from
my hand of love than to encounter a lot more pain in life....It's a
logical consequence. If you cause somebody pain, either by the words you say
by lying and not being a trustworthy person or by biting, this is a logical
consequence. It's your mouth that's the offender."
Whelchel began the punishment on her own children when they were at a pre-school age,
and discontinued when they reached the age of 10. In
an interview with the Washington Post, she said:
"A correction has to
hurt a little. An effective deterrent has to touch the child in
some way. I don't think Tabasco is such a bad thing....[Discipline
involves] drawing a line to protect the child and if they cross that
line, there will be pain."
Whelchel said she believes that disciplinary methods should be left up to
parents. They know their child best, are devoted to the child's well-being,
and can administer punishment with love. She mentions that hot saucing can be
"If there's a mom who shakes the bottle on the kid's tongue, that mom
probably does deserve to have someone poking into her business. But I
think most moms are caring and intuitive. You can't throw out a bunch of
good stuff because of the exceptions." 1
She quotes: Proverbs 10:31: "The mouth of
the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the forward (perverse) tongue shall
be cut out." 3
Amanda DeLorme of American University Park posted a message
on the bulletin board "DC Urban Moms.' She wrote that hot
saucing "...works like a charm." She uses it only as a
last resort . She wrote:
"He is better behaved as a result. He'll say, 'Please
don't give me hot tongue, Mommy,' and [the threat] interrupts his
behavior. We'll talk about it, hug and make up. That's what usually
Kim Crosen, a mother of three from Fairfax, VA, learned of "hot
saucing" from a friend who carries packets
of hot sauce in her purse in case she has to discipline one of her
children. Crosen only uses the sauce in the home and "after many warnings, and for
extreme circumstances." One case was when her son called his 3-year-old
sister a "crybaby." She believes it is an appropriate
"... defiant talk....I use it when the mouth is the
offending party. He needs to learn to control what's coming out of his
mouth. If it's his tongue that gets him in trouble, it's his tongue that
gets punished. ... children need to respect and obey [parents] or they won't learn to respect and obey
God. God won't hot sauce you, but you need to learn consequences....What
I'm doing is minor compared to what kids used to get 40 or 50 years ago.
One drop of hot sauce is not going to hurt him. Everyone has to do what
works for them, within reason."
An mother from Chevy Chase, MD who wanted to remain anonymous, said that hot sauce
punishment is widespread in Louisiana where she used to live. She recognizes that hot
sauce has its drawbacks: it instills fear in the child and teaches them
that might makes right. But, she commented:
"I need some discipline
for egregious acts. ... [a] "worst-case
scenario...As parents, we're all trying to do the best by our children.
Hugs go a long way. Kids need lots of love and affection."
is opposed to spanking children. She said: "If I hit my child, how
can I tell them not to hit someone else? It's the worst type of
Today's Christian Woman is a magazine directed at
fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian women. In a 2001 article,
they recommended inflicting pain on children's tongues through the use
of hot sauce, "yucky-tasting" soap, or white vinegar.
John Rosemond, a parenting advice columnist, does not personally
recommend this method of discipline. But he said: "I don't think it's
abusive or inappropriate." He said that washing a child's mouth out with
soap comes from a time 50 years in the past and that we might do well to
copy those discipline methods, because it produced well-behaved children.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Alison Buckholtz, "Feeling the Heat. Some Parents Apply Hot
Sauce to a Child's Tongue as Punishment.The Practice Has Some
Experts Burning," The Washington Post, 2004-AUG-10. Page HE 01. Online
Bo Emerson, "New flavor to punishing kids: Sting of hot
sauce. Drops on tongue popular option. Parenting experts call it distasteful,"
Cox News Service, 2004-SEP-02. Published in the Toronto Star, 2004-SEP-03, Page