Spanking: Ways to Discipline Children

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We must rely on the way we were brought up, specific cultural norms, and our feelings. When there’s bad behavior at a very young age that we don’t agree with, the first reaction might be a stern “no” followed by an innocent spank in the behind. This is the beginning of a long road of mental and emotional issues that the child will suffer in the future into adulthood unless the behavior is modified without using corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment is defined as inflicting pain to redirect an undesired behavior also known as negative re-enforcement. “Corporal punishment includes, but is not limited to spanking, a method used by 65% of parents of young children in the United States.” (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Policy Statement. 30 July 2012). Research has proven that corporal punishment modifies the behavior immediately however, it is ineffective over a long period of time. There is a higher risk for physical abuse and is teaching the child that aggression is a method for solving problems. There is also the desensitization factor where they will less likely learn why a behavior is wrong and react out of fear. A study was performed to assess the experiences and training of the Hasbro Children Hospital physicians regarding CP in a medical setting. Out of the 58 total physicians that were evaluated, 67.2% responded that CP was never effective in improving behavior and 98.2% never recommended CP to families (Rhode Island medical journal, August 2019, p. 31).

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The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program is a perfect example that is based on positive reinforcement behavior training. The dolphins are trained to perform a specific task in controlled environments, then tasked to perform the same task in the open ocean. If the animal decides to “run away” and hang out with his/her friends, it is not punished when it returns. On the contrary, it’s rewarded with food for returning home. The behavior is then modified to ensure that the animal is focused on the task that it was asked to perform. They also learn what “time out” is when there is bad behavior.

The behavior modification does not start with the child, but with the parent instead. How the parent interacts with the child is what causes the child to develop good or bad behavior. Good parenting should focus on developing independence and encouragement overpraise. Additionally, the parent must also teach consequences over punishment and cooperation over obedience to allow the child to learn and develop decision-making. Studies have demonstrated that kids have responded well in terms of academic success, mental health, and good well-being when raised by parents that use an authoritative style of parenting. However, there must be a balance between love, control, firmness, and nurturance. The child’s behavior is best when there is a good parent-child relationship. The child must be conferrable knowing that he/she can speak their mind without repercussion. This allows the child to develop communication, confidence, and respect. 

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