By BRYCE ADDISON M. PINEDA
Spanking, hitting and slapping—these are just a few of the ways in which some parents use physical punishments in order to reprimand their children.
Some believe that it is well within the parents’ rights to inflict pain on their children if the situation calls for it, while others believe that parents should never use physical aggression in order to prove a point to their children. This question is a contentious topic that has been debated countless times in the past: Should parents use corporal punishments on their children?
Corporal punishment inside of a household refers to “any act causing deliberate physical pain or discomfort to a minor child in response to some undesired behavior.” Although some areas of the world have established their own laws banning this practice both in schools and at home, it is still very prevalent within traditional groups around the world, as they perceive it to be an effective way of teaching their children the difference between right from wrong.
Despite this, parents should not exercise corporal punishment on their children because instead of allowing the situation to become an opportunity for them to learn and grow from their mistakes, this act merely instills fear as a way to discourage undesirable behavior without allowing the child to actually understand what it was they did wrong. As stated by Alan Kazdin, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Yale University, unwanted behaviors in children cannot be effectively removed through punishment at all.
“There is no need for corporal punishment based on the research,” Kazdin said. “We are not giving up an effective technique. We are saying this is a horrible thing that does not work.”
There have also been multiple studies conducted in the past that display a direct correlation between physical punishment and increased aggression in children. The findings showed that these practices could also lead to the onset of more adverse mental conditions at a young age such as depression, anxiety and antisocial behavior. Based on these possible results stemming from the use of physical punishment as a corrective measure, parents have to think of the consequences and ask themselves first: “Is it worth hitting my child in order to prove a point to them?” before using physical means to correct their child.
Some parents believe that there are children that will simply just not listen to reason so they have to resort to physical means of discipline. What does this accomplish, exactly? It is not as if level-headed people in real life use violence when in minor disagreements with other people instead of civil conversation. Parents also do not teach their children that when they get older, aggression is the answer, so why is it that this tactic is still used when it goes against the values instilled in these children?
Contrary to what these parents are trying to achieve, corporal punishment might actually make the child more prone to lying due to the fear that they might develop from getting beaten by their parents. Through the anticipation of physical punishment, children resort to lying to their parents in order to avoid the consequences of their actions. Psychotherapist Philippa Perry noted that children become adept at lying due to the lack of safety that they feel in telling the truth as opposed to covering it up and evading punishment.
Even though parents may get frustrated by their children from time to time, they should not resort to hitting them because punishing them through these disciplinary measures does not contribute to a productive learning environment, merely arousing fear in the child.
Allowing children to learn and grow from their mistakes is a part of life. Through parents’ use of their words and knowledge in order to counsel their children, they can treat their young ones’ mistakes as a learning experience that can hopefully shape them into better people in the future.
Through proper guidance and communication, parents can be able to help their children grow into the upstanding citizens of tomorrow without the use of threatening means.