Should Parents Use Corporal Punishment?
Corporal Punishment in Children
Corporal or Physical Punishment, like spanking, has been considered a necessary and even desirable method of disciplining children since the early 1900s. Although corporal punishment remains legal in US, many countries have already passed anti-spanking laws, such as Sweden (1979), Finland (1984), Denmark (1986), Norway (1987), Austria (1989), Cyprus (1994), Latvia (1998), _Croatia (1999), _Germany and Israel (2000). In a cross-cultural study, Curran et al. (2001) surveyed how many parents remember the use of corporal punishment on them during childhood and assessed their attitude for or against the use of corporal punishment in a five-point scale: _South Korea (89% - 3 points), United States (83% - 3.13 points), Canada (80% - 3.14 points), Greece (73% - 2.26 points), Britain (71% - 2.68 points), Finland (69% - 2.34 points), Malaysia (63% - 2.9 points), Argentina (62% - 1.96 points), Spain (56% - 2.05 points) and Sweden (36% - 1.25 points).
Why Parents Punish Their Children
Parents use corporal punishment in disciplining their children for several reasons:
- They are just repeating what their parents have done to them. They might think that because they turned out okay, their children would be okay too if they use corporal punishment. As you have seen, from the cross-cultural study cited above, the percentage of remembering is almost always positively correlated with the measured attitude for or against corporal punishment.
- They have developed a style of handling stress by yelling or screaming and being violent. How many times have you seen your parents yell and become violent when angry? You may have also observed this behavior on yourself. Parents typically resort to punishment when they are too tired or too stressed.
- They feel effectively powerful over their children. Corporal punishment almost always result to crying and compliance. When children cry and stop behaving rudely, parents start to feel in control of the situation.
- They are unaware of other methods of disciplining children. Most of the time, parents don't know that there are other methods of disciplining children, such as shaping, and the use of reinforcements and negative punishments. Some negative punishments, like time-out, are found to be more effective than positive punishments, like corporal punishment.
Research on Corporal Punishment
There are various psychological research studies that support the use of corporal punishment, but some are also against it:
- Spanking is effective in reducing undesired behaviors (Dinsmoor, 1998).
- Spanking is correlated with children's higher levels of immediate compliance, but it is also correlated with aggression, low levels of moral internalization, and low levels of mental health. (Gershoff, 2002).
- Spanking is correlated with antisocial behaviors, such as cheating, lying, bullying, trouble-making and disobedience (Giles-Sims, 1999).
- Even though spanking is correlated with increased problems among children belonging to White, African American and Latino families, this link is reduced when parents show strong emotional support for the child (McLoyd & Smith, 2002).
Why Parents Shouldn't Punish Their Children
Parents should stop punishing their children for these reasons:
- Parents who use corporal punishment in their children use out-of-control models for handling stressful situations. Considering the power of observational learning and the influence parents have on their children, parents can use these stressful situations to teach children how to calmly and effectively change behavior.
- Parents who use corporal punishment in their children teach them what not to do rather than what to do. For example, instead of punishing your 7-month old baby for sucking his or her toy, you can give a teether, or do some other tricks (that the child can follow) with the toy.
- Parents who use corporal punishment in their children can instill fear, rage and avoidance from them. Ideally, parents want their children to grow to be positive, calm and welcoming. Almost always, parents want their children to want them. Deliberately and continuously using corporal punishment in your children will make them fear you, be angry at you, and consequently avoid you. And remember, fear can be generalized to other authorities as well. Don't be surprised if your children have trouble dealing with authorities in the future.
- Parents who use corporal punishment in their children can be abusive. Spanking can be arousing. Abuse parents use corporal punishment in their children for no appropriate reason, and this abusive behavior results from gradual increasing magnitude of spanking.
Featured Articles (Miscellaneous)
- Can Humans Be Truly Altruistic?
- Is Psychology Right for You?
- List of Contemporary Psychologists and Their Field of Expertise
- Is Psychology Value-Free?
- How Can Writing Improve Your Health?
- What About His Brain and Her Brain?
- What Is the Human Genome Project?
- Do Parents Matter?
- How to Develop a Positive Identity?
- How to Love Your Ears
- Should We Believe Psychics?
- How to Get More Sleep, If You Need It
- Using Hypnosis in the Legal System
- Should Parents Use Corporal Punishment?
- How Does Sesame Street Incorporate Observational Learning?
- What to Look For In An Idol?
- Are You Using Good Memory and Study Strategies?
- What is the Problem with Recovered Memories and False Memories?
- How to Think Critically like a Psychologist?
- Is Bilingual Education Good or Bad?
- Is There Really a General Intelligence?
- How Creative Are You?