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Forms of Discipline: What Is Best for the Child?

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Forms of Discipline: What is best for the child?
Children are like flowers, if well taken care of they will bloom. If ignored or tortured, they will wither and die. Child discipline is one of the most important elements of successful parenting. Today, many people have this notion that physical abuse is in no way a solution to helping children discern between right and wrong. Since generations children have been taught the art of discipline through physical punishment. Often this approach to disciplining has resulted in two outcomes, one is where the child becomes more tolerant and is willing to adhere to what he/she has been told, or the other which more often results in children developing a sense of anguish and desire to revolt. Physical punishment often destroys the psychological mindset of a child and can scar his/her childhood, resulting in them to grow up to be particularly irritable and frustrated individuals. Over the decades we have seen that fewer and fewer parents are resorting to this sort of method of violence to discipline their children. However contradictory to all that has been stated, I believe that sometimes parents are caught in a situation when children cross all boundaries of discipline and spanking is the only effective solution. Therefore, it is imperative to do so. Nonetheless, before spanking is even taken into consideration; all the other non-violent forms of discipline should be used. If none work then finally the act of spanking can be justifiable.
The act of spanking is not merely a punishment that should be conducted on a whim by parents; there must be reasoning and evidence of a clear sort of rebellion or revolt that requires such treatment. However in such a situation I am of the firm belief that dialogue or discussion is not the option that will placate the issue in the long run. I feel this approach may only last for a short period of time until the child feels that his or her parents have forgotten the issue and will once again go back on the same path. A spanking advocate says, “I don't think it hurt me, in fact, it helped me in the long-run. It made me look at consequences, things kids don't normally think about. I was always told, ‘Listen, or you'll have to feel it.’ I listened when I was told, and now, I'm grateful I was raised like that because I feel now I am much more respectful to my peers and my elders especially.” Thus, the act of a spanking induces a fear, a fear that is necessary for children to experience, as it is this fear that rings in a child’s mind when he or she is on the verge of pursuing a mistake he or she is aware is wrong.
When a child is noncompliant, I agree that a spanking is desirable by any parent, however spanking works best when followed by a serene conversation with the child about why was he/she spanked. There are many parents today who do not know how to use this disciplinary action on their children. They usually end up excising too much or too little control over their child without giving them a suitable reasoning. A ‘Fact sheet from the Rocky Mountain Family council’ states that “pairing reasoning with a spanking in the toddler years delayed misbehavior longer than did either reasoning or spanking alone. Reasoning linked with a spank was also more effective compared with other discipline methods. Talking with the child about what behavior is expected and why-with the potential of a follow-up spank-worked best.” Hence, Spank a child only when necessary and in conjunction with reasoning and other forms of discipline.
Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from it the more plausible it seems. Being raised in a traditional Indian family, I have been exposed to all forms of disciplines depending on the situation. As a child, I was spanked when I did something wrong. Being spanked taught me respect and kept me in line. The way my parents disciplined me is an accepted method of punishment back home. It is only today that I understand the importance of what they did. Just as my parents did not have the intention to physically abuse me, the entire concept of spanking too is not directed towards hurting the child, it is more of a lesson taught to make the child realize his/her mistake. Hence, there needs to be a limit to how much parents can spank their kids. If the act is carried out on a daily basis, there are higher chances of the kid behaving inappropriately behind closed doors. At the end of the day these kids get so frustrated of being spanked everyday that they end up doing unnecessary things such as lying, cheating, bullying other people behind their parents backs. Research by Murray Straus, a Co-Director at the Family Research Laboratory at the University of Durham, indicated that “frequent spanking (three or more times a week) of children 6 to 9 years old, tracked over a period of two years, increased a child's antisocial behaviour, measured in activities like cheating, bullying, or lying”. Hence, it is important for the parents to learn which behaviours deserve a spanking. For instance, spilling water, making noise, wetting-pants are normal behaviours all children tend to pick. They do not need to be spanked as these are all age-appropriate behaviours.
A key concept of discipline is to identify the behaviour that is typical for the age of the child. Based on the behaviour, parents can then take appropriate actions. For instance, Lisa Berlin, research scientist at the Centre for Child and Family Policy at Duke University says, "We're talking about infants and toddlers, and I think that just, cognitively, they just don't understand enough about right or wrong or punishment to benefit from being spanked," As Berlin states, it is pointless to spank an infant, however as children grow older and begin to understand the severity of the punishment, a spanking is desirable.
Today, there is a common misconception that spanking is a form of child abuse. Some parents are actually afraid to discipline their own children using the same method used for their own upbringing. Who is correct in the notion of right and wrong discipline? Is there such a thing as a correct way to spank your child? In my opinion, there is. So, my objective is to show that there is a fine line between the two terms Spanking and Child abuse. A Cambridge Dictionary states that Child Abuse occurs “when adults intentionally treat children in a cruel or violent way.” On the other hand, Spanking in the same dictionary means “to hit a child with the hand, usually several times on the bottom as a punishment.” In this way, the line between the two can be drawn where too much spanking results in bruises and scars on the child. Therefore, parents should not spank their children when they are angry themselves as the spank would turn out to be an unintentional smack. When this occurs, parents tend to accidently take out their frustration on the child. Primarily, this is when Spanking, a form of discipline, starts drifting towards the entire concept of ‘child abuse’.
However, this misconception has led to many unwanted situations where parents have been sent to jail by their own children. In a general conversation with a waiter at IHOP in Charlottesville, I got to know that he spanked his child twice due to confidential reasons and the child sent his dad, Greg, to the court.
In this way, mild spanking is an essential tool to bring the child on the right path of success. A pro-spanker, Leeanne, mother to three children says “I gave a spanking (more like a weak handed swatting) on the butt when my children were small a couple of times....after that, just a warning and a look was all they needed to keep in line, because they knew they didn't want one. All three of my children have told me that they are ashamed of their generation and each have thanked me, at one point or another for those little spanks. (Again, I don't mean pain...just attention getting and disapproval of their behaviour).” As claimed by her, I too believe that spanking causes no harm on the child. It is just the way the parent does it. Love your children more than you spank them. At the end of the day, that is all what a child needs in life.
Other than that, I also carried out my own survey for this essay where I asked fifteen friends their opinion on spanking. Each of them said that they have been spanked in at least one circumstance. They all agreed that it is proper to discipline in this way. It is only now after coming to UVA and being so successful they have realized the importance of the punishments their parents used to give them. When I asked them at what occasions did they get spanked, one said, “I have done a lot of silly things in life that my parents have disapproved, they believe that not all negative behaviours require a spanking; but spanking is their number one choice when all other methods of discipline fail.” Life is all about making decisions, taking risks and then finally facing their consequences. Hence, their parents took the risk and landed on the safe end where their children are reaching the pinnacle of success.
As stated, spanking shouldn’t be the only form of discipline used on children. Parents need to take into account all the other forms as well to teach their children right from wrong. Parents can inculcate discipline in their child by showing discontent to the unsuitable behaviour of the child. This usually has a lasting effect as they know that if they do it again their parents will be disappointed, which is usually harder to deal with. This type of punishment only gives you more of a guilt feeling and it remains till you are in good terms with your parents again. When parents give that silent treatment, it becomes very hard to live in the same house where parents are not in talking terms with their kids. Scolding is another form which is widely used all over the world. If it becomes an everyday situation then it may lessen the effect on the child. The child may start considering this as a normal act for parents to shout at him/her and will start ignoring them. The aim of the parents to teach the kid a lesson and make sure he/she does not make the same mistake again would fail. However, if scolding is the only process used then parents need to also praise their children when they do something good as well. In this way, scolding and praising should be balanced so that children understand the entire concept properly.
Another very effective form of discipline is ‘Time-Out’. This is mainly used on young children. “A time-out involves temporarily separating a child from an environment where inappropriate behaviour has occurred, and is intended to give an over-excited child time to calm down.” This method can be very effectual if carried out appropriately. Too much of something doesn’t attain the goal it is looking for. Similarly, excessive scolding or use of time-out does not have the same effect on the child as a one or two time would. For example, a child throwing a tantrum can be put in time-out for him/her to calm down. After that, parents need to make sure they kindly explain the kid that whatever he/she did is not acceptable in society. Even in this case, age matters as a one year old cannot be asked to sit and listen to a long lecture as they do not have long attention spans. An American mother stated
Once the child gets older and as they start experiencing the real world, parents tend teach them a lesson by withholding privileges. When they reach a certain age i.e. when they are in grade 5-6, they start to differentiate precisely between family and friends. Sometimes as they enter the teenage world, they begin to value friends over family. At this point, parents know that their kids are growing and might go on the wrong path if not taught a lesson at the right time. Hence, some of the techniques such as ‘if they come home later than expected then take away what they love the most’ are used. For example, if you come home late, you will not be allowed to watch TV for two days. This is usually used once the child is old enough to understand. In this way, as they grow older they learn how to make thoughtful decisions. A balanced approach should be used in order to raise the child in the right manner. By ‘balanced’, I mean that parents should spank their children only to a certain extent primarily depending on their age and the type of mistake committed by the child. Spanking along with other forms of discipline should be used in order to make the child realize his/her mistakes in life. The aim here is to create a long-lasting relationship between the child and the parent. There are no such good or bad forms of discipline, all of them are in their own place and should be used depending on the situation. Excessive spanking can cause the child to be indifferent, whereas no action can lead the child to become completely rebellious. Everything is effective in moderation, and this is no different.


* "Child abuse - Definition of child abuse noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus." Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus - Cambridge University Press - Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <>. * "Child time-out -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <>. * "Experts and users discuss spanking, corporal punishment, society: spanking-is-effective." Opposing Views: Issues, Experts, Answers. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <>. * Landau, Elizabeth. "Spanking detrimental to children, study says." Spanking detrimental to children, study says 16 Sept. 2009: 1. Print. * Leeane. "Coveredwithlove." Web log comment. 20 May 2008. Web. 05 Dec. 2009. <>. * "Spank - Definition of spank verb from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus." Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus - Cambridge University Press - Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <>. * "Spanking: A Comprehensive Review from U.S. News." DADI Blog. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <>. * "Spare the rod, spoil the child." Our Lady of the Roses end times Bayside prophecies and messages given to Veronica Lueken for these last days. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <>.

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