Every parent loves their children and wants them to excel in life. But sometimes, your little one can really test your patience and push your buttons. But, no matter what they do, it’s important to keep in mind that they are just kids. And they are figuring out boundaries and limits every time they push against them. And as a parent, we’re sure you want them to adhere to these boundaries, but using physical discipline to get your kids to act right may be counterproductive. And when all is said and done, it can do more damage than harm. If you’d like to know more about the harmful effects of physical discipline and alternate kinds of discipline you can use instead, then this is the article for you. Read on to know more!
Why Shouldn’t You Physically Discipline The Kids?
The Resolution on Physical Discipline of Children By Parents was recently adopted by the American Psychology Association’s Council of Representatives. Strong longitudinal research that was conducted showed that physical discipline did not improve the behavior of a child. Instead it can lead to academic, emotional and behavioral problems over time. And this was the case even after factors like race, socioeconomic status of the family and gender were controlled (1). This research stated that hitting children did not result in children having a better grasp of their responsibilities, self control or conscious development. That is, hitting children did not succeed in teaching them right from wrong. Hitting them may work in getting their attention for a short span of time but the kids don’t internalize why they shouldn’t repeat the same undesirable actions in the future. And this usually results in them behaving when an adult is around and lashing out, doing whatever they want when they are not being supervised.
Moreover, children learn through observation and watch their parents intently. It’s through you that they learn to pick up social cues or the lack thereof. So, parents who use physical discipline to “straighten their kids out”, teach their kids to resolve conflict with physical violence and aggression, which they can get into serious trouble for. In addition, the parent-child relationship is compromised, and in most cases completely destroyed. Your child is less likely to trust you with their failures, doubts and questions if you severely punish them for it. So they can become withdrawn from their parents and even exhibit antisocial behavior. And lastly, it creates the double standard that adults are allowed to show aggression but children are not. The last thing you want as a parent is for your child to grow up and prey on the weak. But isn’t that what we do when we hit a child who has no chance of defending themselves? For all these reasons, it’s best to abandon this method of discipline in the past and find ways that are more effective and appropriate.
Better Ways To Discipline Your Kids
According to a study done by Gershoff, around 80 percent of mothers spank their kids when they are between kindergarten and third grade (2). Most parents often raise kids the same way in which they were raised as they have not been exposed to any other models of discipline. The problem is that most people don’t know how to discipline their child by spanking them or they simply don’t want to because the alternatives seem time consuming and require patience.
The best way to discipline your kids is to turn towards tried and true methods like parental modeling, respectful communication and collaborative conflict resolution. Kids look up to their parents, so if you’d like them to exhibit good behavior or better manners, all you need to do is lead by example. If your little one is going through some behavioral changes due to some other drastic life changes, like the divorce of their parents, then the best course of action is to exercise some empathy and talk to them about it. Once they know that you are there to help, they will most likely stop acting out and find better ways to deal with their emotions. If you and your child always get into a tiff in the morning because of something they do, sit down and come up with a solution together. Maybe all you needed was to tweak your routines just a little bit. If you need some other on the spot discipline tools, taking away their privileges and using praise to improve behavior also work.
Disciplining kids is no easy ordeal. It takes time, patience and a resolute calm mind. But these things are important in order to not act rashly and cause your kids lasting emotional and mental damage. So, make sure to avoid physical discipline and opt for more appropriate methods instead!