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Monday, 31 January 2011

To discipline, or not to discipline?

So, I was reading an article and came across an interesting topic. Is a smack to a child as a disciplinary measure barbaric, or a natural way of punishing children?

So how DO we punish our children to be an effective deterrent to disobedience?

The discussion of this teetered back and forth some ways. Some referred to it as a barbaric practice that belonged back in the 20th Century and that using violence against a child only influenced the child to use violence to assert their authority.
The other direction was that given enough warnings, a smack to a child’s legs or backside would be an effective deterrent via pain stimulus instead of taking the child aside and telling them they cannot do that which has been previously explained before and may not have enough sway to deter them from attempting the same thing again.

I can see both points of view however.
I was subject by both of my parents to smacks on my legs and backside if I was naughty, and by naughty I mean completely unruly and not just a little bit stubborn. I didn't get into trouble or disobey their rules because I knew the consequences of doing so and that would have been a physical punishment.
As I got older and gained in possessions such as a TV, video player and stereo I found another version of punishment was to remove these objects from my possession. If I still disobeyed I would have been on the painful end of a hand around my backside.
Then there were other times, for example, when I was around 6/7 years old I referred to my sister as a bug-er as she was "bugging" me, a simple creation of a word caused in innocence. I promptly received a smack for this and was baffled when I was told it was a naughty word. Did this have a detrimental effect on me? Yes. Don't make up your own words - you can say my literal creativity was stifled by this, it could even be said it may have contributed to problems I have with spelling words in my head. Not that I believe that, but someone could correlate them.

Now, I grew up relatively fine. I did well academically and socially and live a relatively happy life at the moment. I've never hit another person to assert my authority but have in defence of my physical self. I have become a completely different person to my parents, with differing opinions and thoughts to them. But I do however agree with them solidly on one subject. A smack for a child who will not listen to their parents or has had more than enough warnings about bad behaviour is a more natural discipline and better for society than the "live and learn" approach.

In nature life is full of these examples. For Wolves and Lions (two contrasting species) if a young cub disobeys his mother and wanders too far from home the mother will nip it to obey her. If she lets it wander off then the mischief they could get in could be fatal. The method here works. And it works for humans as a species too.

We live in an age where parents are told they should not discipline their children by smacking, with children as young as 6 being given mobile phones, dvd players, computers and televisions they have far too many possessions to seize control of them all at once.
So, what do you do for children who repeatedly ignore their parent’s education and pleas to curb their behaviour?

Through my physical punishments I was taught to respect others, to respect authority and respect 'law'. How I was made to do this was to fear the consequences of NOT respecting them. Educations through school also taught me to respect those same rules of suffer the consequences but not to a greater effect as teaching became more tolerant to those who misbehaved. The children who wanted to learn were pushed back by those who misbehaved in lessons causing disruption, so little wonder some diverted and became trouble causers in order to get attention.

Now there is a line between a parent using physical punishment and a parent abusing their child. One is to educate while the other is, well, for a depraved self satisfaction. I do NOT advocate the abuse of children by their parents for trivial matters (and my view of trivial matters is being unhappy, questioning opinions, minor disobedience) and never will.
This is of course reliant on good Social Servicing, but the law clearly states that use of physical punishment is allowed by parents as long as they do not injure them.

These are my views on the subject and as views they are open to flexibility, I'm open to debate on anything.


  1. It's a good point. But I wouldn't say all kids that get smacked as a means of discipline turn out okay. There are always kids that faced that punishment and still turned out bad - a lot of it is also due to the mental attitude of the parents towards the child. But while I was brought up with the smacking as a punishment, there are other equally effective methods of parenting that I would use (should I ever become a parent).

  2. I find it very interesting to hear about different parenting methods, even if I never intend to be a parent myself.

    I was raised quite differently from most. My parents wouldn't set clear boundaries. I never had a curfew, never HAD to partake in any activities, I could always opt out of anything. Their only stipulation was that I was always able to be gotten in contact with. So when I was younger they needed the phone #'s of the place I would be, but that's about it. The consequences for me avoiding contact with them were severe enough that I only tested that boundary once or twice, haha!

    In a sense I was left to raise myself. I don't think I would have turned out quite the same if I had been held to a household full of rigid rules. Without any restrictions to rebel against I was able to find what worked for me without the desires of my parents influencing me, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.