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

Discipline Alternatives to Physical Punishment

Discipline Alternatives to physical punishment. Physical punishment is a major public health problem in this country. Approximately 60 percent of adults still approve of physical punishment, despite compelling evidence that it does not work, it makes things worse, and there are effective alternatives.  

Discipline Without Physical Punishment - 8 Alternative Ways

Spanking is a euphemism for hitting. One is not permitted to hit one’s spouse or a stranger. Why in the world should one be permitted to hit a smaller and even more vulnerable child?  

Studies show that children who are hit identify with the aggressor and are more likely to become hitters themselves, i.e., bullies and future abusers of their children and spouses. They tend to learn to use violent behavior as a way to deal with disputes.   

Is hitting a Child Ever OK? 

Hitting is one of the most widely debated and sensitive parenting topics. While most pediatricians and parenting experts don’t recommend spanking. But still majority of parents around the world admit to spanking their kids. We can include spanking, hitting, pinching, paddling, whipping, slapping, swats, smacks, the popping of the hands on head as different forms of physical punishment.

Discipline Alternatives

It is a big question for every parent. This question rises when it comes to child discipline, and just about everyone has a strong and often emotional opinion.

For many parents, slapping can feel like the fastest and most effective way to change a child’s behavior. And it often works in the short-term. But, studies show corporal punishment has long-term consequences for kids.

8 Discipline Alternatives

If you’re looking for alternative ways to Physical Punishment, these are eight ways to discipline your child without slapping.

1. It’s Time-Out

There are lots of ways to discipline children without spanking them.

Hitting kids for misbehavior (especially aggression) sends a mixed message. Your child will wonder why it’s OK for you to hit your child but not OK for your child to hit her sister.

Time-out can be used as a better alternative. But in order for time-out to be effective, kids need to have plenty of positive time-in with their parents. Then, when they’re removed from the situation, the lack of attention will be uncomfortable and that discomfort could remind them to behave better in the future.

If it is done properly the child will learn to calm himself down, which is a useful life skill.

2. Ignore Mild Misbehavior

You can ignore attention-seeking behavior. Selective ignoring can actually be more effective than spanking.This doesn’t mean you should look the other way if your child is doing something dangerous or inappropriate. 

It just means don’t pay attention to their activities. When your child tries to get attention by whining or complaining, don’t give it to him. Look the other way, pretend you can’t hear him, and don’t respond.

Then, when he asks nicely or he behaves, return your attention to him. Over time, he’ll learn that polite behavior is the best way to get your attention.  

8 Discipline Alternatives

3. Take Away Privileges

Although hitting hurts for a minute or two, taking away a privilege hurts longer. Take away the TV, video games, his favorite toy or a fun activity for the day and he’ll have a reminder not to repeat that mistake.

Make it clear when the privileges can be earned back. Usually, 24 hours is long enough to teach your child to learn from his mistake.

So you might say, “You’ve lost your time to play with your favorite toy for the rest of the day but you can earn it back tomorrow by picking up your toys the first time I ask.”

4. Teach New Skills

One of the main problems with spanking is that it doesn’t teach your child how to behave better. Spanking your child because he threw a temper tantrum, won’t teach him how to calm himself down the next time he’s upset.

Kids benefit from learning how to problem-solve, manage their emotions and compromise. When parents teach these skills it can greatly reduce behavior problems. Use discipline that is aimed at teaching, not punishing. 

8 Discipline Alternatives

5. Provide Logical Consequences

Logical consequences are a great way to help kids who are struggling with specific behavior problems. Logical consequences are specifically tied to the misbehavior. 

For example, if your child doesn’t eat his dinner, don’t let him have a bedtime snack. Or if he refuses to pick up his trucks, don’t allow him to play with them for the rest of the day.

Linking the consequence directly to the behavior problem helps kids see that their choices have direct consequences. 

6. Allow for Natural Consequences

Natural consequences allow children to learn from their own mistakes.  For example, if your child says he’s not going to wear a jacket, let him go outside and get cold—as long as it’s safe to do so.

Use natural consequences when you think your child will learn from his own mistakes. Monitor the situation to ensure that your child won’t experience any real danger.

8 Discipline Alternatives

7. Reward Good Behavior

Instead of spanking a child for misbehavior, reward him for good behavior. For example, if your child fights with his siblings often, set up a reward system to motivate him to get along better with them.

Providing an incentive to behave can turn around misbehavior fast. Rewards help kids to focus on what they need to do to earn privileges, rather than emphasize the bad behavior they’re supposed to avoid.

8. Praise Good Behavior

Prevent behavior problems by catching your child being good. For example, when he’s playing nicely with his siblings, point it out. Say, “You are doing such a good job sharing and taking turns today.”

When there are several children in the room, give the most attention and praise to the children who are following the rules and behaving well. Then, when the other child begins to behave, give him praise and attention as well.