How physical punishment works

How physical punishment works


When it comes to physical punishment of children, I am opposed. But, why? What is it that kids learn from physical punishment and what are the outcomes?

I am also informed that if parents have rules for hitting kids and follow protocol, it will be a postivie learning experience. After you read these two short articles I will direct you to an article by a woman whose parents were exemplary is following the rules. It seems to me that when we talk about physical punishment we usually look at it through the eyes of adults. This will give you an opportunity to hear from a child’s perspective.

What do kids learn from physical punishment?

I once saw a parent smack a little kid in the Mall and as she did she said; “That’ll teach you young man.” Parents have said to me that they hit their kids to teach them a lesson. Okay, so exactly what are we teaching kids when we smack them?

Some of them learn to avoid the misbehavior because they’re afraid of their parents. So they learn to fear the pain that’s inflicted on them. Do we want our kids to fear us?

They also learn that misbehavior only counts when they’re caught. So they learn to be sneaky and only misbehave when their parents can’t see them and hurt them.

Many simply learn how to take the pain and ignore the rules. And of course as they get bigger this creates a different dynamic because they’re able to hurt their parents.

They learn that hitting a smaller person is acceptable and that hitting is an okay response to frustration and anger.

The point is that we want our kids to learn the rules and internalize them. We want them to understand why it’s important that they behave appropriately. When we use pain as the teacher they only learn about being hurt not about becoming good citizens. If we want them to learn to behave whether we’re there or not, hitting simply isn’t the answer.

Outcomes of physical punishment

We used to believe that a person in authority had the right and even the responsibly to hit their inferiors to keep the peace. An oxymoron if I ever heard one.

At any rate, husbands could hit their wives, employers their employees and prison guards, prisoners. We don’t do that any more.

But we still hit kids. Somehow we think that they need to suffer real pain in order to learn.
There has been an increasing amount of research on children who are punished by being smacked, swatted and spanked and the results are not encouraging.

Preschoolers who receive corporal punishment have not only more temper tantrums but they’re more severe and they fight more with their siblings.

They’re more likely to get in trouble with the law as their theft rates are higher than kids who were not physically punished and they’re three times as likely to assault non-family members.

And in all too many cases of child physical abuse it was found that is was simply punishment gone awry. In other words the parent was dealing with misbehavior and it got out of control ending in a case of abuse. The two behaviors that most frequently result in fatal abuse are infant colic and toilet training.
Really is this what we want for our children?

An Important Link How physical punishment works

And now a word from a child.

A Few Things Happening with Parenting Today

I’m planning on being in Calgary Alberta in the spring. Stay tuned for more information. The dates for this trip are still flexible so if you want to take advantage of the fact that I will in Alberta, just get in touch.

For those who plan way ahead I will be in Washington state and Oregon in June 2011 and in Ontario and New England in late September and early October of 2011.

Contact me and let me know whether you would like a Beyond Childcare presentation, a speaker for a parent conference or professional development workshop. I look forward to hearing from you.

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