Child Discipline

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Parentshave a primary responsibility to guide their children in adopting theright behaviors. There are many methods that can be applied indisciplining kids. Parents can choose to teach their children(Lapointe, 2016) or use corporal punishment to instill discipline intheir children (Larzelere, 2013). Any of the available alternativeshas merits and demerits, which implies that there is no method thathas been proven to be perfect in regulating children’s behavior. This paper will provide an argument against the use of corporalpunishment as a method of disciplining kids. Physical punishmentaffects the development of behavior, personality, and cognitiveability in a negative way and its effects in deterring indisciplineare short-lived.

TheEffect of Corporal Punishment on Behavioral Development

Corporalpunishment has negative psychological effects on children. Theseeffects motivate them to adopt negative, instead of positivebehaviors. A study conducted to determine the effectiveness ofcorporal punishment in molding children revealed that most of thekids who are beaten severely become aggressive in their later stagesof development (Naz, Khan, Daraz, Hussain &amp Khan, 2011). The useof corporal punishment over a long time helps children develop aperception that violence is the most effective way of addressingchallenges that people experience in life. These negativedevelopments were confirmed by a research showing that children whoare victims of physical punishment are more likely to applyaggressive approaches (such as hooliganism and fights) whenaddressing conflicts (Naz etal.,2011). These results are attributed to the fact that the physicalways of disciplining children destroy their proactive thoughtprocessing capabilities and mental alienation. The risk ofdeveloping aggressive behavior has also been confirmed by anobservation that about 40 % of the parents who beat their childrenalso underwent corporal punishment during their childhood (GlobalInitiative, 2013).

Effectof Physical Punishment on Cognitive Development

Parentsintend to instill discipline in their children with the objective ofhelping them focus on issues (such as academic performance) that canhelp them achieve a good life. However, studies have confirmed theexistence of a negative association between corporal punishment andthe development of cognitive skills (Global Initiative, 2013).According to Global Initiative (2013) harsh and persistent corporalpunishment is associated with a decrease in the gray matter in thebrain. This decline occurs in the areas that are used to measure thelevel of intelligence during adulthood and adolescence. The lowamount of the gray matter can be detected in children at the age ofthree years. The impact of corporal punishment on the development ofcognitive skills affects the performance of the kids in a negativeway. Physical disciplinary methods limit the ability of individualsto process information, concentrate in class, and collaborate withother learners. These effects culminate in poor academic performance,which impacts the future career of children.


Childrenwho undergo beating as a way of disciplining them develop negativepersonalities that limit their ability to establish relationshipswith their peers. The majority of the affected kids becomesantisocial at home and school. This phenomenon is associated withinadequate moral internalization that occurs when children feelthreatened and hated. Physical forms of punishment that involvebeating result in immediate compliance, but they have a long-termnegative effect on the child’s personality development. Accordingto Global Initiative (2013) corporal punishment is quite biasedbecause it does not help children comprehend the impact of theirbehavior on other people. Instead, this form of instilling disciplinehelps the affected kids conduct themselves well of their own accord.They tend to believe that the most important thing is to avoid beingcaught when misbehaving, which increases their chances of separatingthemselves from their colleagues. However, the antisocial behaviormay also develop when children misinterpret the intention of theirparents. Some of the kids tend to believe that their parents beatthem because of hatred and not for the disciplinary purposes.

Spankingchildren as a way of administering discipline affect the socialskills of the minors in two ways. First, it reduces the developmentof the sense of security and trust. Physical punishment involves theuse of force, which instills fear, instead of discipline. Kids whofeel afraid of their parents find it difficult to trust or engage insocial activities with them (Global Initiative, 2013). By learninghow to avoid their caregivers at an early age, the affected kidsstart believing that withdrawing from other people is the only waythat someone can find peace. Secondly, physical forms of punishmentput children to shame among their peers, instead of deterring thewrong behavior. Children have a limited ability to establish theassociation between their behavior and reaction of their caregivers.Consequently, they may end-up believing that there is something thatis inherently wrong with them. Children who develop the wrongperception about punishment consider other people to be differentfrom them.


Physicalpunishment is associated with negative psychological effects amongkids. For example, spanking and slapping are quite demeaning,especially for children who expect their parents to guide, instead ofpunishing them. According to Durrant &amp Ensom (2012) corporalpunishment results in depression, anxiety, unhappiness, and a feelingof hopelessness. Children who expect to experience love and care fromtheir parents feel that physical punishment is the opposite of whatthey deserve. In severe cases of negative psychological effects, somekids end up using drugs or committing suicide. Pain that is inflictedon children increases the levels of cortisol in the brain, whichresults in severe episodes of stress (Durrant &amp Ensom, 2012).Prolonged stress leads to psychological maladjustment. The affectedkids are vulnerable to other social issues, such as substance abuseand criminal behavior.


Theproponents of corporal punishment hold that it is an effective waydeterring wrong behavior by inflicting pain. Alsaif (2015) defendedthis counterargument by stating that people fear suffering from pain,which force kids to avoid behaviors that might result in physicalpunishment. Children who understand that any wrong behavior must bepunished reform their conduct and become good people in the long-run.This perspective is based on the theory of reinforcement thatsupports the idea of rewarding good behavior and punishing any wrongdoing. The proponents also hold that corporal punishment is easy toadminister because it only requires a whip or a slap, compared toother positive methods of administering discipline. For example, theprocess of enlightening children about the desirable behaviorrequires parents to keep on repeating instructions, which consumes alot of time. Physical punishment can, therefore, be regarded as aninstant method of administering discipline.

Althoughsupporters of the application of corporal punishment are able toprove that it can prevent children from engaging in the wrongbehaviors instantly, its impact is short-lived. The deterrent effectof the physical way of disciplining kids is only observed when theparent is present. The long-term effect is associated with thedevelopment of wrong behaviors and personalities. This trend has beenconfirmed by studies showing that kids who are disciplined throughphysical punishment are at a higher risk of suffering frompsychological issues (such as stress, anxiety, and depression) andengaging in criminal behaviors (Durrant &amp Ensom, 2012). On thecontrary, positive methods of disciplining children have been shownto have long-term benefits. For example, teaching children about theright actions gives them the reason to prefer good behavior to wrongconduct, and it does not disrupt their personality, cognitive, andbehavioral growth.


Althoughcorporal method of disciplining kids deters wrong behavior in theshort-run, it has more negative effects (such a limitation ofcognitive and behavioral development) than the benefits. Thepsychological effects of physical punishment disrupt thedevelopmental processes, especially when kids fail to establish theconnection between the penalty and their behavior. In addition, painthat is inflicted through whipping, spanking, or slapping result inchemical imbalances in the brain, which increase the risk ofsuffering from depression, anxiety, stress, and other psychologicalproblems. All the negative effects associated with the corporalpunishment can be prevented by using positive approaches that allowparents to engage children and teach them about the right behavior.The processes of guiding and teaching children about the rightconduct are more effective than punishment.


Alsaif,O. (2015). Corporal punishment in schools: Theoretical discussion andpersonal experience. ContemporaryIssues in Education Research,8 (1), 19-25.

Durrant,J. &amp Ensom, R. (2012). Physical punishment of children: Lessonsfrom 20 years of research. CanadianMedical Association Journal,1, p. 1-5.

GlobalInitiative (2013). Review of research on the effects of corporalpunishment working paper. GlobalInitiative.Retrieved August 26, 2016,…/effects-of-corporal-punishment.pdf

Lapointe,V. (2016). Disciplinewithout damage: how to get your kids to behave without messing themup.British Colombia: Lifetree Media.

Larzelere,R. (2013). Authoritativeparenting: synthesizing nurturance and discipline for optimal childdevelopment.Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Naz,A., Khan, W., Daraz, U., Hussain, M. &amp Khan, Q. (2011). Theimpacts of corporal punishment on students’ academicperformance/career and personality development up-to secondary leveleducation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. InternationalJournal of Business and Social Science,2 (12), 130-140.

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