Avoiding Physical Punishment In Child Rearing




Is "sparing the rod" spoiling or saving the child? Is violence, resentment, anger or fear worth the risk taken when striking him or her. Whether your for or against using physical punishment in child development, as a parent, you will someday have to face this issue. Many parents are taught this method in their childhood, and are not aware of any other way. Often originating from religion, physical or corporal punishment is seen as an important ingredient in child rearing. This tool is used to accomplish total authority by the parent and to receive total submission from the child. Physical punishment may be convenient and achieve temporary conformance, but produces negative results, and should be avoided.
HISTORICALLY
Punishment dates back to early human history. To maintain the laws that were created for social living, penalties were developed for the individuals who could not abide by them. Authoritarianism changed the reasons behind punishment; instead of protecting society from the criminal, it became a way for the "Chiefs to control the Indians." It placed the leaders above everyone else, preventing the people\'s opinions from counting; an antidemocratic society. As illustrated by Dreikurs and Grey, "Those in command were superior and therefore right; those whom they ruled were inferior and therefore wrong if they disagreed with the rulers" (66).
Physical punishment has been approved in history as "the role of authority," as a declaration of power. Penelope Leach states, "Physical punishment was once an accepted part of any relationship that gave one individual legitimate authority over others - master over slave, servant or wife; officer over lower ranks; law enforcer over law breaker; employer over apprentice - but that is history; we have universal human rights now - universal except for children, that is" (126). Teaching total authority by the parent, most Conservative Protestants use corporal punishment today as their forefathers did. In Spare the Child, Philip Greven points out, "Modern forms of Christian Fundamentalism share the same obsessions with obedience to authority characteristic of earlier modes of Evangelical Protestantism, and the same authoritarian streak evident among seventeenth - and eighteenth-century Anglo-American Evangelicals is discernible today, for precisely the same reasons: the coercion of children through painful punishments in order to teach obedience to divine and parental authority" (198).
The idea many years ago is obvious, society felt that physical punishment was necessary for obedience. With study and research over time, successful child rearing has changed to produce better results. Dr. Benjamin Spock adds, "In the olden days, most children were spanked, on the assumption that this was necessary to make them behave. In the twentieth century, as parents and professionals have studied children here and in other countries, they have come to realize that children can be well-behaved, cooperative, and polite without ever having been punished physically" (437). Realizing the impact this old-fashioned method can have on a child, society is changing their views on how we should discipline. We are moving away from intimidation and pain tactics to more effective, positive methods.
EFFECTS / RESULTS
To be more effective in child rearing we must first realize the undesired results that can come from using physical punishment. When a parent strikes a child, they are teaching that child to deal with problems in a violent manner. As an opponent to corporal punishment, Murray Straus writes, "I am not saying the evidence is definitive. I believe future research will confirm the conclusions that the violence we so abhor and fear has part of its origins in the actions of loving parents who, by spanking children, unintentionally teach violence… We should act now because corporal punishment is violence. Therefore, regardless of whether it reduces what most people think of as the real violence, a society that stops hitting children is a less violent and more humane society" (qtd. in Ellison paragraph 22).
Negative influence is another disadvantage of physical punishment. An adult influences a child using physical punishment, displaying a lack of self-control by the parent. Physical punishment also implants resentment, anger and fear of the parent. Causing resentment, anger or fear in a child can result in "backfire" of the punishment. Hitting a child displays a lack of respect for them and breeds rebellion. For example, meters are placed to require payment for temporary parking. Exceeding