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Is Corporal Punishment Needed to Discipline Children?

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Each of us has probably witnessed corporal punishment at least once in the life. There are many people who in their childhood experienced angry behavior outbursts from their parents. Such situations can happen in any supermarket, where a child wants something, but the parents are not able to buy that. There are families, in which corporal punishment appears to be a common method of upbringing. However, if a child is often punished in this way and observes violence while growing up, he/she might regard the corporal violence as a common thing. Moreover, it is likely that this child will treat his\her own children, friends, relatives, and parents in the same way. People who are raised being subjected to corporal punishment do not find it a bad discipline. They use corporal punishment to bring up their children as the only source to educate them. Most of results prove that using the physical force increases negative behaviors and decreases positive ones (Niolon, 2010).

Anyway, it is important to set general determination for corporal punishment to distinguish it from other types of domestic violence. Corporal punishment is the use of physical force as the means of discipline, which causes pain, but no wounds, and can involve shaking, slapping or spanking with bare hands or using belts, canes, slippers, etc. According to statistics, the majority of parents do not find these means as a cruel punishment. There is no doubt that such treatment sets fear in a child’s mind. As a result, each child’s action is reflected by its fear to be punished. There is no clear understanding or motivation of children’s actions. Simple forbiddance makes children ignorant of the real reasons why they are not allowed to act in one way or another. It is compulsory to communicate with a child. If parents explain why it is bad to do so, it becomes clear for a child why such kind of behavior is not acceptable.

In addition, parents should not forbid their child to play at all. There should be time when a child may do everything it wants to do, but understand what is right and what is wrong in the same time. Japanese have a tradition to allow their children to do everything they want until the age of three. The parents are not supposed to stop their children even when they make harm. Japanese tend to think that an age of three is sacral in some kind. They consider that children do not understand what they do and just enjoy the game. In many other societies, though, such kind of treatment for children is considered to be wrong. From early age, a child must know that pranks might be punished. Till three years, reflexes are dominant in a child’s behavior. This is why it is compulsory to form during this time a concrete understanding that naughtiness deserves punishment. In this situation, punishment means any kind of explained forbiddance. For example, a child is not allowed to go for a walk with friends. If the child is little, parents might deprive him/her of a toy for some time, explaining this in the following way, “The toy is insulted by your bad behavior; it went to your friend (brother\ sister) until you ask for an excuse.”

In general, speaking about punishment one means either forbiddances or corporal punishment. All over the world, many parents find corporal punishment to be cruel and invalid. Cruel treatment of a child brings aggression and anger in return. So, trying to explain something to a child using assaults and battery, prompts a child to disgusting behavior. As it is well-known, anger creates a chain reaction.

Why Do Children Behave as They Do?

In view of the above said, it is needed to find alternative ways for corporal punishment. Doing so, it is significant to understand why children behave as they do and what the reasons for children’s misbehavior are.

It is obvious that children have their physical, emotional, and psychological needs. These needs must be met so that children could develop in a proper way. When these needs are met, children are far more likely to become self-respecting individuals who make positive contributions to their communities. However, if these needs are not met, children will display unhealthy behaviors, as they attempt to meet these needs themselves (Naker & Sekitoleko, 2009). For example, children who are noisy or behave disrespectfully in class may behave this way because they do not feel accepted by their peers. For this reason, they feel vulnerable and insecure in that class environment and, as a result, they try to make themselves look brave and strong. If you think of other common patterns of misbehavior, all of them could be explained by children’s emotional and psychological needs.

Common Reasons for Corporal Pnishment

Questionnaires prove that there are many reasons that prompt mothers and fathers to use corporal punishment. The most common among them are:

  • corporal punishment relieves tension;
  • absence of strategy to achieve their aims;
  • lack of reasonable resources to handle the problematic situation;
  • lack of self-control because of anger;
  • dearth of ideas how to calm the child down in other way.

The reasons why parents use force to calm their children down vary a lot. Many social organizations and protective projects try to fight against domestic violence by providing children’s rights and governmental acts, which protect such rights. Among such organizations one might find Save the Children, UNICEF Commits, and International Confederation of Students’ Parents Association etc.

Effects of Corporal Punishment

As a matter of fact, each action has its own effect. This refers either to corporal or any other type of punishment. Observing effects of corporal punishment, it is significant to say that it might affect children, parents, and society on the whole. Let us observe possible consequences the corporal punishment brings to its participants.

First of all, corporal punishment teaches children to be victims and lowers their self-esteem. In addition, it obstructs child’s intellectual, sensorial, emotional development and learning. It hampers the ability to understand the relationship between behavior and its consequences. As a result, corporal punishment leads to children feelinjg abandoned, lonely, and depressed. As follows, such violent relation promotes a negative view on other people, and society looks like as a threatening place. In accordance with this, a child believes that the violence is a good way of solving problems. Parent-child communication barriers arise and make sensorial relations impossible. This is to inform that children can suffer from accidental physical injuries and get difficulties with social integration (UNICEF, CEAPA & CONCAPA, 4).

It is to be noted that corporal punishment harms parents as well. For example, violence against a child makes parents feel anxiety and guilt. It is obvious that violence tends to escalate. There is no way parents can justify their behavior to themselves and to society if they use corporal punishment because of the lack of alternative resources.

Social consequences of corporal punishment are as dreadful as personal. It promotes a double standard: there are two categories of citizens, children and adults. It's acceptable to assault children, but not adults. It is a matter of great importance because corporal punishment often leads to domestic violence and contributes to family broken patterns.

Why Do We Use Corporal Punishment to Discipline Children?

It should be noted that an effective discipline helps children understand what is wrong and what is right. It helps them direct their behavior according to the acceptable social rules. There are moments when children misbehave and do not listen to their educators. Very often communicational methods do not help make such children obedient. Minor corporal punishment might be helpful in these cases.

Should parental disciplining use the corporal punishment or not is an ambiguous issue. It depends on the fact that the purpose of punishment is to stop children act in an unacceptable way using painful or other unpleasant methods to achieve this aim. At that rate, parents often use the corporal punishment. All in all, parents use their force to punish a child when the words are useless. While losing control, parents often harsh their uncontrollable children. For instance, a child is making a mess at home, and parents ask him/her to be quit and stop doing that, but child does not react at all. After some time of asking, the child gets a scolding. As a result, the child is insulted and goes to bed crying. However, this situation can help a child understand that parents’ words are worth listening to. In addition, next time this child will be more attentive and obedient when the father or mother asks him to be quite.

The practice shows us that the corporal punishment can be an effective way to prevent children from acting wrong. Either way, here come the questions whether parents act right punishing the child with the force, and what consequences might come after such punishment.

As parents understand that spanking is an effective way to make a child obedient, soon this way of discipline is going to be used morre often. As a result, such child will be afraid of his/her parents; communication, trust, and honesty will disappear in their relationship forever.  This may be the main disadvantage of little and rare corporal punishment (Gershoff, 540).

Kinds of Punishment

It is obvious that the process of child’s upbringing cannot be exercised without punishment. The way parents administrate their punishment methods is very important (Telep, 2009).  It is to be noted that there are basically four types of punishment:

  • verbal Punishment: ridiculing a child, using cruel words, shaming, saying ‘I do not love you’, ‘You are bad’;
  • penalties: e.g. ‘You get a bad mark, so you will stay all the weekend at home’, ‘You  lose the key, so you will buy a new one with money from your allowance’;
  • withholding rewords: ‘You cannot watch TV if you do not do your homework’;
  • physical punishment: padding, switching, using a belt, slapping, spanking;

The first and the last types of punishment are not considered to be effective discipline methods. Psychologists prove that these two types do not educate children. These types just help parents to achieve their aim in short time. It is really dangerous to overuse these ways of discipline. The consequences they bring might be harmful. Giving penalties and withholding rewards as either punishment types or discipline methods are often acceptable and beneficial. Everything depends on how parents administer them. The corporal punishment itself differs, and its differences depend on the parents and families. The corporal punishment varies in how frequently and forcefully it is used (American Psychological Association, 2002). It is a matter of great importance for parents to understand that communication and relation in family play the greatest role in a child’s emotional, physical, and social development. As facts say, fathers use the corporal punishment to educate children more often than mothers. As one may know, men are not likely to express their emotions with the words. That is why it is harder for men to use verbal communication to discipline the child. Women, in their turn, first try to explain a child that he/she is misbehaving and warn him/her about possible consequences of the actions. Therefore, men deal with the physical punishment more often than women do.

Where the Truth Is?

From psychological point of view, it is quite better to educate children than punish them. To a certain extent, children act according to their ideals about what is good or what is bad, not because they are afraid of punishment. If a child’s actions are directed by fear, such discipline method will bring a lot of problems for either this child or his/her parents. Considering that fact that children must be educated, it is significant to learn how to do it in a proper way. There are a lot of international programs that teach parents how to raise and educate their children from the first days of their lives. These programs give theories, practices, examples, and ways to implement liberal discipline in an upbringing process, and make the child emotionally and physically stable.

First of all, children should be explained what is good, what is bad, and why it is so. Children should know possible results of their misbehavior. They must understand that parents say, “Do not touch it”, “Do not go there”, and “Stop doing that”, for their own good and because they want to protect them. If parents want their children to appreciate their upbringing methods, they must build strong parental-children connection based on trust and love. If a child trusts and respects the parents, he/she will never disobey and make the parents nervous about him/her. If a child is little and do not understand a lot yet, the only thing parents must do is educate and use acceptable means to punish.  

Conclusion

To sum up, there is a well-known opinion that corporal punishment helps discipline children. This statement is completely wrong. Parents use corporal punishment because they think they do not harm their children physically. As a matter of fact, the risk of emotional harm is far worse than physical one. There are many investigations that prove that corporal punishment hurts emotional health of a child. It must be remembered that children are our future. This is why we need to protect and educate them; do not make them cruel and violent. We should not raise our children in a cruel way. No matter what, they will behave as we do; thus, we should know how to beahve ourselves first!

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