Is Physical Punishment OK?

Physical punishment involves the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience bodily pain or discomfort so as to correct or punish the child’s behavior. This includes spanking, hitting, pinching, paddling, whipping, slapping, and so on.  

Is Physical Punishment OK?

Is hitting a Child Ever OK? It is a big question for every parent. I wrote this question as a poll in different social sights and I found that thankfully a views are not much towards spanking.   Views vary sharply, with very little common ground. No one wants to scold or hit their child for fun. This question rises when it comes to child discipline, and just about everyone has a strong and often emotional opinion.

While most people deny the use of physical punishment as a form of child discipline, more people do spank their kids than they let on.

Most define spanking as any physical contact that involves striking a child for the purpose of stopping a behavior or action or getting their attention.

Views of physical punishment opposers:

Most child psychologists, pediatricians, so-called parenting experts, educators and middle-class parents oppose physical punishment as according to them:

  • Spanking can cause life-long emotional damage to a child. 
  • Sometimes it can cause physical damage as well.
  • Hitting a child teaches them to become violent adults.

 Plus, spanking opponents argue, there are plenty of other ways to discipline a child who is acting inappropriately.

Views of supporters of physical punishment: 

Supporters of spanking are often the ones who think that if they as children have been disciplined through spanking, it is OK to do the same with their children too. 

  • Supporters say that spanking, when used appropriately, creates a better sense of discipline and doing the right thing in children. 
  • Proponents also argue that occasionally spanking a child who is acting unsafely or terribly does not make them child abusers or parents with anger problems. 
  • They also point to how well-behaved their child is, especially compared with out-of-control, disrespectful and tantrum-prone youngsters whose parents keep threatening them with “time-outs” or “going to bed early” without changing the behavior.

Who Uses Physical Punishment as a Form of Child Discipline Today?

It’s hard to know exactly what percentage of parents or caregivers (like grandparents) actually spank a child, because many who do, don’t admit to it. 

But essentially, people who spank, at least occasionally, include:

  1. Caregivers from older generations, who were spanked as children and believe that they turned out to be absolutely fine.
  2. Grandparents and even older parents whose parents spanked them appropriately indicate they remember the experience, and as a result, effectively learned to not repeat the same inappropriate child action again.
  3. Parents of multiple young children, who spank but usually refer to it as an occasional “smack” or “slap” rather than spanking. These parents indicate that they only correct their children this way only when it involves an inherent danger to a child (themselves or others. An example of this is a parent who smacks a child’s hand who is about to touch a hot stove.
  4. Caregivers (parents or any adults) may also spank a child when, after being disciplined using another method, deliberately repeat the same behavior, as if to antagonize the parent. An example is a child who runs through a store (yes, it happens) and pulls things down from shelves, after being told not too repeatedly. 

Why Is This Such an Emotional Issue?

Child Protective Services or even the police have been called to investigate situations where an adult spanks a child in public. Well-meaning adults may intervene when the situation may or may not call for it. There is a fine line and considerable judgment involved when a spanking becomes abuse.

Parental rage, brought on by an out-of-control child, can result in horrible and tragic results. At the same time, a swat on the backside to stop a really bad behavior isn’t abuse, although some may still insist it is.

Is Physical Punishment OK?

Until the last 10 to 20 years (depending on the school), corporal punishment was routinely used in the classroom to put an immediate halt to inappropriate behaviors. 

Now, most, if not all, schools ban the use of corporal punishment and even designate their stance opposing it in their informational handbooks.

Whether or not you strongly oppose any type of physical punishment, support it in very limited cases, or like many parents, publicly decline its use but privately have used it at least once on a defiant or out-of-control child, the controversy surrounding it isn’t likely to end for generations to come.

If you have a strong opinion about physical punishment of any type and under any circumstances with a child, be sure to convey that to your child’s caregivers (family providers, nannies, babysitters, or friends). At the same time, be prepared to indicate what alternative measures you permit.

Too many previously successful child care arrangements have ended because of a lack of communication about allowable child care discipline strategies. And, if your parents spanked you on occasion but you adamantly oppose it with your child, don’t just assume the child’s grandparents will just know your position. Get it out in the open before they take on child care duties.

If hitting a child is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. 

8 Alternative ways to Discipline without Spanking

Published by

Roshni Shukla

Hi, I am Roshni Shukla, a Parent, Founder and Principal for an Early Years Education centre, a Parenting Coach and Parenting Blogger. My journey with and around children started in 2005. I am learning everyday with parents and children alike. Parenting isn’t a practice. It’s a daily learning experience. So here are some little tips that can make a parent ready for what is coming for them in this amazing journey called parenting. Let's together bring some change in the mindset about parenting, schooling, society, lifestyle and more.

4 thoughts on “Is Physical Punishment OK?”

  1. Taking the assertion “Spanking is a common form of corporal punishment” at face-value, I would clench that this “tradition” is sort of recklessness of parents who underestimate the persecutions of such style of bringing up. Frankly speaking, I cannot share this opinion. Firstly, today it is impossible to imaging each third family enjoys their child ‘s crying after having got a heavy mother/father’s palm against their gentle butts. In my judgement the punishment of this kind is rather inner feature of an individual nature of an adult with hidden perverse interests. Because, it is obvious that a child, after being overwhelmed with a certain doze of fear adrenaline will then seek for mummy’s forgiveness and tenderness. The stick of both ends. The parent will be satisfied with the results of his/her power. A child in the future will be looking for taking on violence towards others or will become very vulnerable.


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