Physical Discipline: How Far Is Too Far

Physical Discipline

It is one of the most difficult periods in parenting when a child has already grown big enough to climb tables and snatch things from cupboards but not big enough to understand what is good and what is bad. Unfortunately it is not always possible to explain it to a child in words: hyperactive toddlers often do not pay attention to their parents’ remarks or just are not much interested to cooperate. Some feel a minor spank could help in such a situation, but it is important not to make this practice traumatizing or humiliating for a child. I am not even sure it IS possible to spank and NOT traumatize or humiliate.

However strong and energetic a pre-teenage child may be, its bones and sinews are not developed enough and therefore are easier to damage. For example, it is rather widespread situation when a kid under 5 gets an elbow dislocation after being pulled by the hand too harshly. This can even occur when a parent tries preventing a child from falling. The best option would be evading putting any significant strength into disciplinary actions. The main purpose is not to cause pain, but to show the child that you are angry and disapprove its behavior. And you should not do that too often, due to the same reason.

At the same time physical discipline can cause certain psychical consequences. Much is written about spanking and similar practices making children ‘anxious and aggressive’. Alternatively, this may cause depression and even self-hatred in the future. Violence and disrespect can hurt a child even more than strikes themselves do. Some physical punishments are not really painful but very humiliating. As a result, it could cause the contrary effect in a child’s behavior. Also this could undermine normal connections between family members.

Mutual understanding must not be damaged by disciplinary actions. Ideally, they should make it better. It is important to let a child understand that usage of physical discipline is unpleasant for a parent as well. And it always should be followed with a clear explanation why a parent had to use the force so that a child ‘appreciated the reasoning behind it’, as a user who advocates moderate usage of physical punishment commented on the subject.

What do you think?