Is Corporal Punishment an Effective Form of Discipline?

Undoubtedly, discipline is critical in molding a person's character. Parents are often debating over whether corporal punishment, which is believed to be an effective and affordable behavior deterrent, should be used as a disciplinary measure. In the United States, 73.6% of parents strongly agree or agree that it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with spanking.

Why Corporal Punishment Does Not Work?

  1. Corporal punishment can lower self-esteem to both the parent and the child, leaving them with longer-term psychological impact.
  2. Physical punishment might be unnecessary. A heartfelt conversation with the child is a common alternative to educate why the action is wrong to the point of invoking empathy or shame.
  3. People who experience corporal punishment are more instilled with rage and hostility, which will carry on into adulthood.
  4. Those who went through painful punishment may have a tendency to become violent to their peers and other people.
  5. At the height of anger and frustration, a parent may cross the line with the physical and emotional behavior towards the child resulting in child abuse rather than discipline.

Negative Outcomes for Using Corporal Punishment

According to the studies published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the university pediatricians, harsh physical punishment was associated with increased odds of depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

Spanking might harm children's mental development as the fear and stress associated with being hit affects a child's brain development. The researchers of a U.S. study tested the IQs of children in two age groups and then retested them four years later. It was concluded that in the 2-to-4-year-old group those who were not spanked scored five points higher than those who had been spanked while there was a 28-point IQ gap in the 5-to-9-year-old group.

Threats of physical punishment also impact the parent-child relationship negatively, making it more difficult to use other types of positive parenting strategies when a child grows older. Dr. Bob Sege, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatricians who specializes in the prevention of childhood violence, opined that children who experience violence at home end up using violence later in their lives. For children, their parents are the most important people in the world, and they learn from them what social norms are and how to treat others. Corporal punishment will confuse the boundaries between love and violence for children.

Frequent use of corporal punishment when the child was 3 years of age was also associated with three times increased risk for greater inclination to violence when the child was 5 years old.

Alternatives to Physical Punishment

Some common alternatives to physical punishment are to:

  1. Spend time with your child expressing positive thoughts and feelings to them and avoid teaching or correcting them.
  2. Model positive behaviors to set a good example for your child.
  3. Use other positive parenting strategies, such as brief and immediate time-outs, giving choices, earning rewards for good behavior.

Parents who believe in corporal punishment should remember that damage done to the psyche of a child often lasts a lifetime, and hardly ever reversible. Always have an open and sincere conversation with their child to encourage understanding and respect.


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