15 October 2008

Is it Ever Right to Physically Punish Your Child?

This is going to be a short post:
I read Monique-Renae's blog this morning - she wrote about the physical abuse she experienced at the hands of her father and how it has impacted on her life and her relationship with both parents. (Do visit her blog and say 'hello'.)

It got me thinking about the issue of whether it was ever right to physically punish your child. Do parents have the right to give a child 'a little slap'?

My feeling is that it is never correct to inflict physical punishment on a child. If we are trying to raise children in an environment where attacking others (regardless of how 'lightly') is wrong then how can we expect them to treat others?

I have heard the arguments that sometimes it is necessary to immediately stop a child from doing something dangerous and a slap is required to show them just how serious their misdemeanour is.
I don't buy it. I believe children should not be violated and physical punishment is out and out abuse, in my book. You may disagree/agree - I would like to hear your views.


Preston said...

I do not believe in physical punishment. It's demeaning and teaches no true lesson to the child.

La Pensive said...

I agree. Physically harming a child can do damage to their spirit. It can instill fears and an inferiority complex beyond repairs.

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Natural said...

there's a difference between abuse and discipline. i have swatted a bottom as a means of correction but never ever abused. talking is my first way to correct discipline and if that doesn't work then you will get the hand. i was spanked as a child and it hasn't made me angry. i also don't support war. don't spank your kid, but go to war. i don't get that one.

VCSMama said...

While I agree in principle, as a parent who has violated that principle, I find that there are two challenges for me: 1) Figuring out what type of discipline works with my child. Spanking definitely isn't it. We continue to experiment to find an effective way to provide the right guidance; (2) Being disciplined ourselves. Particularly as a mother who is co-parenting, I'm caring for him alone much of the time, and when I'm not, he is with his father. While I try to be consistent, I falter sometimes. And, trying to build consistency across two households is an ongoing challenge. But, the key for me is that I/we don't stop trying. If only parents were perfect...Thanks for this post.

My Autism Insights said...

Tough question. I also agree in principle, but no one is perfect, and sometimes parents react in ways that they'd probably rather not. In general, even the lightest swat is probably not productive, but in a moment of panic/frustration/severe stress they can happen.

I would also agree that there is a difference between the rare swat and abuse. Does that mean I think it's okay for parents to hit? No. But I wouldn't string anyone up from a tree for a swat. I do think that parents need to be given support and education in other ways to discipline effectively so that they don't allow themselves to get into those extreme headspaces.

T.Allen-Mercado said...

I do not believe in physical punishment. I've yet to hear a valid argument for it. Even at the toddler stage when I've heard parents say "well a swat at the hand is better than letting them touch a hot stove", etc. My response is child-proofing is better than either of the options you've presented. One of my children is about to leave the nest and I can proudly say that through the worst of times I have remained disciplined in my chosen method of discipline.

Thanks for sharing,excellent post.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% -
I was in early childhood education for over 25 years.
I taught children from very diverse backgrounds, personalities, and temperaments.
Every child can grow & learn without physical punishment.
Which in itself just sends a huge mixed message.
There is never an excuse to strike a child!!!

Nairobian said...

i agree with natural,for a certainty i love my cute little son so dearly(http://siku-moja.blogspot.com/2008/07/monday-blues-little-nairobian.html) and sometimes im moved to discipline him a little just like i was ! and i am thankful that my parents did discipline me,my brothers and sisters...we were raised up right and were hardly ever abused even if it ment strokes of the cane.leniency on the other hand is propping up problems for many parents but abuse on the other hand is a no no and should be discouraged!Disciplining a child is a delicate balancing act and many methods have to be employed!

RE Ausetkmt said...

Hey Sis,

I commented on MoRae's blog today as well, on my past of being abused as a child, by my father.

he was a pure terror - left over from the sharecropping days in the us south. yes I do mean that.

so many black folks beat their kids, because they were taught to do it, from their slave masters.

no I am not kidding, because you can read it in history, as well as their oldtyme southern relation to reality.

sad indeed, but as a victim I am here to speak about it, and how horrible it is. it has destroyed many many folks, and continues to make black families destruct daily.

Blackfolks weren't taught to reason and resolve. just to punish if questioned.

that my dear is the reality of the us slave past.

english folks seem to have it differently. be glad.

btw thanks for the ad. I've returned the compliment today.

Kimmy said...

I do not believe in physical discipline, however I do believe in correcting your child's behavior. Life in general is about following rules, and knowing appropriate times for different behavior. (ie inside/outside voice) I truly have no tolerance to the little kids pushing the carts around the store attacking my ankles while the mom is on the cell phone.

Can I slap the parents? Sorry! Just kidding!! Not really the best way to share light.

TMinut said...

There's a definite difference between physical punishment and abuse. I just wrote about it recently because the subject came up with my daughter-in-
law. I won't spank my grandbabies, they don't live with me and they're not my children (not exactly), but I did spank my own.
What's annoying is their dad never had to spank any of them, they just listened to him! Anyway, here's where I wrote about it: http://tminsk.blogspot.com/2008/09/its-all-about-heart.html

Nicole said...

I have never laid a hand on my children, and all of them, my son and my two stepsons, have grown in to wonderful, responsible young men.

Hitting someone, whether it is a child or an adult, tells the person you hit a couple of things about you.
1. you have no clue how to respond in a mature manner.
2. that you do not value them as individuals.

Hitting is what parents resort to when they are unwilling to take the time to teach their children.

It doesn't work in any case. It seems teaches fear and breeds low self esteem.

I despise people who hit their children.

Politi Gal said...

In the course of watching my siblings raise their children, I have discovered that establishing clear expectations, clear punishments for violating those expectations(ie. length of time out, loss of TV privileges etc) and being consistent in your parenting makes physical punishment completely unnecessary.

My nephew has turned out great, and my nieces understand (and hate) time-outs everybit as much as a spanking(and maybe more).

Glennisha Morgan said...

I agree with Natural there is a Huge difference between abuse and discipline. I grew up getting whippings when I was out of place and I'm still alive.I'm not a violent person and I'll say overall I turned out ok. Even though I don't plan on having any children if I did I'd be a firm believer in discipline.

Rich Dansereau said...

I was never spanked nor slapped as a child and I still learned responsibility, ethics, and many other lessons. I do think that spanking sends the wrong message; that the way to get what you want is through physical violence rather than talking rationally. Maybe too many of our foreign leaders learned this stick method as children and have now incorporated it into world politics. While their is a huge difference between abuse and discipline, sometimes the adults need a bit of self discipline; who needs a time out?

Ari Koinuma said...

The only occasion I can think of for a physical discipline is for when a child is very young (before you can reason with them) and whey they repeatedly do something very dangerous (to themselves or others).

We haven't had to do it with our kids so far.


Mikko said...

it's aginst the law to use physical violence against children in Sweden

Jacqueline said...

If I had children, slapping, hitting, beating...definitely out of the question.

Reg Fife said...

I've noticed that in these in debates, for anti-spankers, spanking is code for "abuse", and often cite instances of extremely harsh, frenquent, extremely painful punishments to prove their point. For pro-spankers, NOT spanking is code for "letting your kids run wild" and cite instances of spoiled brats whose parents don't seem to know the meaning of the word "discipline."

From the stories I've read, my own experiences growing up, and witnessing the discipline (or lack thereof) used by various parents, I've come to this conclusion:

First, to clarify, I don't believe we should return to the days where every youthful indiscretion was punished by a cane or a belt to the buttocks. A punishment that leaves marks is child abuse in my book.

However, the anti-spanking movement is part of the current philosophies of child raising that stress self-esteem above all else, and that discourage virtually all forms of discipline. This has proven to be a colossal failure. Kids whose parents do not have rules and unpleasent consquences for violating those rules wind up with children who grow up with unrealistic expectations of society. In the grown-up world, when you break the rules no-one cares about your self-esteem. You break rules on the job, you get fired, you break the laws of the land, you get fined and/or arrested. If you seriously defy authority, those in charge, (the police) have the authority to use painful means to get you into custody. And, to the poster against war, the same goes for international matters. You threaten our country, we will defend ourselves to the shedding of blood, because we can't let you overrun us and take our liberties.

With all that in mind, I believe children need no more or less discipline than they require. Some parents are lucky enough to have naturally mild-mannered children who don't require much discipline. These kids may need no physical punishment. Other parents have children who repeatedly push the boundaries as far as they can. These kids may need a swat on the rear when they step way out of line so they learn that you can't defy authority and get away with it.

Petula said...

I believe that spanking (not hitting or beating) has it's place. The children who I've met that aren't spanked are the most undisciplined children. I am sure there are exceptions so I can only go on my own experiences. I do believe that parents who spank out of anger are doing harm and it's a misconception or generalization that all spanking is in anger. There's a time and a place for everything... I don't think we (as a society) will ever come to an agreement on this subject.

Dokter Cinta said...


Brelon8 said...

Punish your child?

Physical Punishment is a personal choice that is used as a corrective or reinforcement measure....

Having said that...If a person does not or can not separate or understand how that differs from Physical Abuse...then it shouldnt be done!