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Do you believe corporal punishment is effective with children?

  1. Jul 26, 2013 #1
    I'm not looking for research papers, I want to know how your parents disciplined you. I'm primarily interested personal experiences with beating.

    I was sparked to create this thread after a conversation with my mother. I was physically disciplined, until I was large enough to strike back, and I frankly think it was useless on me. If my father beat me for doing poorly in a course, my reaction was to intentionally fail upcoming assignments to make it clear I wouldn't be bullied into improvement. My mother claims it didn't work because I wasn't beat with enough magnitude. Hearing her say that piqued me. I wasn't terribly disciplined, but talking to my peers it seemed very few of their parents incorporated corporal punishment.

    Oh I almost forgot to ask, for those of you who were beat, do you twitch when someone comes around? I don't know if it's from that or just a personal tendency, but even if someone comes up to give me a high five I reflex into a defensive position.
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  3. Jul 26, 2013 #2


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    My mother used to smack us with my dad's belt, on our rear ends, but not hard, it was more humiliating than painful and it was only when my brother and I got into fights. We didn't really have rules. My mother explained that in nature mommy animals will swat or bite their offspring to stop them from bad or dangerous behavior. And that in nature mommies did eat their children. I used that bit of knowledge on my two girls and Evo Child says that made a huge impression on her. She says she never wanted to disappoint me.

    I never disciplined my girls, they were raised "free range", no curfews, no restrictions on staying with friends, no forced "family time", they had nothing to rebel against, from a very young age I made it clear that they were too smart to do dumb things and they loved to report dumb behavior committed by their classmates or friends and we all disapproved of their actions together. It was a great way to reinforce good behavior and it resulted in them making smart choices of friends. But you have to start training them as soon as they can talk. I know people will disagree, but it worked.

    I'm sorry to hear that you were beaten, that's sad.
  4. Jul 26, 2013 #3
    I wasn't beaten, but was spanked, maybe about three times during young childhood.

    More often than not, discipline took the form of terror: both my parents had hair trigger tempers and flashed into red-faced, muscle-quivvering anger quite suddenly and terrifyingly. It was in this state that they would threaten spankings, or worse, "The Strap". "The Strap" was a thick piece of machinery belt my father brought home from the factory where he worked for the express purpose of hitting us if we misbehaved. He gathered us together and showed it to us the day he brought it home, explaining what it was for. Many times after that we were threatened with "The Strap". To the best of my recollection, though, he only ever actually used it once on one of my older sisters. And I don't remember what she had done to to actually get it used on her.

    Anyway, for what it's worth, I've always had a bad problem with authority, as such.

    Corporeal punishment seems to have gone out of fashion in the US. My perception is that the younger people who grew up without it are much more at ease, relaxed, and happier people.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  5. Jul 26, 2013 #4


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    I never twitch when someone approaches me and I was beat daily as a kid. I think the key was that it was never done out of anger. My parents tried to sit me down and talk to me. They tried to ground me or force me to do volunteer work. I mostly just went brain dead and ignored them as a kid. However, they could get me do anything after beating me a few times :). My other brothers and sisters were better at listening and only got in trouble sparingly.

    With my child, I never really had a problem with her. I can talk to her and she'll argue with me, but if I keep asking her questions she eventually comes to the same conclusion. There is one time though that she pushed me and I had to threaten it. We were driving and she kept hitting the back of my seat playing some random game in her head. I asked her to stop and trying to tell her that it is dangerous to distract me while driving, but she wouldn't listen. During this time a car pulled out a front of me, and I nearly hit it. I yelled and threaten to pull over and spank her if she didn't settle done. I think that was the first time I ever yelled at her and she freaked out and cried. I felt so bad that I bought her a rabbit. His name is rabbit and is the reason why my guest bathroom is no longer for guest.
  6. Jul 26, 2013 #5


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    No , I don't believe in corporal punishment on children.Pain will make children do what YOU want them to do.Most of the time , corporal punishment helps the parent a whole lot more than the kid.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  7. Jul 26, 2013 #6


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    To me, it broadcasts to the world, "I have no idea how to deal with this problem, and I'm so mad about it I'm gonna hit a very small person!!!"

    Just, nope.
  8. Jul 26, 2013 #7


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    Oh but you asked about our personal experience as kids.

    My dad would slap us kids but only when he was drunk. He'd never remember doing it and to this day brags that he never hit his kids :frown:.
  9. Jul 26, 2013 #8
    My brother and I were never beaten, as in abused, but we got the belt a handful of times when we were very rowdy in our room. It wasn't meant to, and it didn't, hurt but we would pretend to suffer and settle down then, when the coast was clear, we'd resume in a quieter fashion. I can't say it has affected me or my brother greatly.

    I believe a swift smack or threat can sometimes be an efficient way to discipline when kids get very* out of hand but full on beatings for bad grades or other moderate offenses is just bad form. I think kids deserve way more credit than they get and a good speaking to can go a long way, unfortunately not many people possess the patience to handle situations that way and resort to physical means.

    *I mean very, as in multiple warnings, out of hand behavior, dangerous situation etc.
  10. Jul 26, 2013 #9


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    No real recollection of spanking maybe once or twice, maybe my older brother a few more since they were new at the parenting thing. Younger brother never. I think the spanking fizzled from choice out since my parents were of the nature of not getting any personnal satisfaction from overpowering a defenceless individual through physical means or through playing at phychological tactics of strong mind versus weak. Although, to the contrary, there was on some car trips the "If you don't settle down back there right now and shut up I am going to stop the car and make you walk!"

    The funny thing is, some super phychological analytical type imbecil ( is there any other who knows best ) wet behind the ears on the radio this morning had 7 points on how to have the best road trip for you and your family. My parents were already doing the 7 points way before the guy was born, on their own, no coaching required, and could most likely add another 7 to the idiot's list.
  11. Jul 26, 2013 #10
    In my neighborhood when I was growing up, there was only one kid worse behaved than me. I think he was also the only one more harshly disciplined than me. I strongly suspect that repeated misbehavior is a reflection of suppressed anger. As a result not only have I never hit our daughter, I have almost never punished her. The worst punishment was sending her to her room for 10 minutes. Instead, when she misbehaved, I told her what she had done wrong, why it was wrong and what she should have done instead.

    In addition, since the age of two I have tried to talk to her as an adult. By this I mean instead of telling her to do something, I would ask her politely as if I were talking to another adult. There have been very few instances of her not doing what I asked. As a result, teacher after teacher has told us she's the best behaved kid in the class. She's 15 now and very mature for her age.

    Do I believe corporal punishment is effective with children? Yes, I believe it is very effective in worsening their behavior.
  12. Jul 26, 2013 #11


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    no, my wife and I are all about attachment parenting with our kids. I was never abused, though my dad lost his cool and threw things around once in a blue moon.
  13. Jul 27, 2013 #12
    I was spanked as a kid. I don't think it was particularly effective at controlling my behavior but I also don't think it any lasting negative effects on me either.
  14. Jul 27, 2013 #13
    Learning from evolution, Mother Nature approves of corporal punishment. How many more earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, storms, animal predators, parasites etc. does she need to inflict upon us so we'd get the message "all good things come to an end.. but the bad things don't"?

    I guess her beatings don't work now, aye
  15. Jul 27, 2013 #14
    My sister and I were both spanked. It worked on me and didn't work on my sister. I know of some other kids it doesn't work on either. I don't know why it works on some kids but doesn't work on others, but I'm against it. My dad once hit my butt with a paddle so hard that it left bruises. Just one more reason I had not to like him.

    I think it's just a lazy way of parenting. Unless you're prepared to devote all your time to raising a child, then don't have one.
  16. Jul 28, 2013 #15


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    Honestly I believe it comes down to whether or not you teach your child right from wrong, not whether you spank them or send them to their room or not.

    My dad spanked myself and all three of my sisters. The key thing, in my opinion, was that he sat us down and asked us if we knew why we were getting spanked. He made us tell him. If we couldn't, he'd tell us why, explain what we had done wrong and what he expected. He did not beat us. We never had bruises. We knew exactly how many times we were being spanked and he NEVER EVER just started hitting us or anything like that. He would warn us when we were misbehaving before it ever got to the point where he spanked us.

    I think that any disciplinary action taken needs to be FAIR. Grounding a child, sitting them in a corner, spanking them, or anything else simply will not work if your child thinks they are being punished unfairly or if they do not understand WHY they are being disciplined. If they think it's unfair or they do not understand then they cannot learn from it and the entire action was pointless.

    I can't guarantee you that this will work, but I can say that my parents were ALWAYS complimented by teachers, coaches, and sometimes a random couples at a restaurant about how well behaved all four of us were.

    Of course, any disciplinary action should match up with the parents own lifestyle. You can't spank your kid for something you yourself are doing. Do what I say, not what I do simply doesn't work.
  17. Jul 28, 2013 #16


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    I don't think corporal punishment is effective, especially if it is done in anger or frustration. It might be effective if it is explained as Drakkith mentioned.

    I was a difficult child and had a penchant for getting into trouble. I got spanked by both parents, but once in a while, my mom used to 'thrash' me (leather strap or harness across the buttocks or back of the legs). I don't remember the skin breaking, maybe once, but it stung like a knife cut and left welts. Needless to say, I survived. That's probably one reason I built a high tolerance to physical pain. Of course, my mom doesn't remember that.

    I think the psychological stuff affected me more deeply than any physical pain. I couldn't wait to leave home and get out on my own.
  18. Jul 28, 2013 #17
    I agree Astronuc. If corporal punishment is not effective by itself but is effective only if accompanied by explanation, then wouldn't the explanation by itself be just as effective? In fact my observations indicate that severe punishment creates worse behavioral problems.
  19. Jul 29, 2013 #18
    The elimination of punishment also has the added benefit of eliminating the incentive for lying about a transgression.
  20. Jul 29, 2013 #19


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    Yeah, reward/punishment schemes generally force subjects to operate at Kohlberg's lowest stages of moral reasoning. Even in adults, the short-term benefit may seems obvious, but it's not worth the impact on long-term development of decision reasoning. It's really only convenient (and in a very small spatiotemporal domain) for the system (employer/institution/etc) itself.

    So if you need a break as a parent, for your own good, punishment/reward (i.e. bribing) can be helpful and used sparingly don't have any lasting negative effects (especially if you recognize it's mostly for your own psychological relief, then it can be a positive). But if you're fooling yourself into thinking your'e doing your kid good in the long-term, then you might want to consider the evidence. You're taking an academic exercise that started with controlled lab experiments on animals (operant conditioning) and trying to expand it to the long-term course of a free-thinking irrational agent (a child) whose existence transcends a 2 week operant conditioning scheme (that's probably much more carefully controlled than any parental attempts).

    As an example of modern discipline styles, many people advocate avoiding words like "good job" because it takes away intrinsic incentives.

    (evidence included)

    Anyway, there's basically four parenting styles based on two "bits". One bit represents disciplinary action, the other represents emotional comforting. So you can have any combination of the bits:

    00 - neglectful parenting (no discipline, no emotional support)
    01 - indulgent parenting (no discipline, but emotional support)
    10 - authoritarian parenting (all discipline, no emotional support)
    11 - authoritative parenting (discipline + emotional support)

    authoritative parenting is found to have the best outcomes for children by the time their adults and the basic strategy is that discipline is not punishment/reward, but stopping bad behavior and explaining why it's bad.

    Or sometimes just hugging them and getting them to talk about why they're angry/frustrated.

    As a parent, you also have to recognize that certain developmental milestones have to take place before any kind of discipline is even warranted. I'm sometimes amazed that people think that (in analogy) the only way a child will learn to walk down the stairs is if you throw them down the stairs as a baby. As if a 20 year old that never has seen a set of stairs will have issues navigating it for the first time...
  21. Jul 29, 2013 #20


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    It is effective at teaching them their attacker is a scumbag. It also teaches violence as a method of conflict resolution and might makes right. Knowing who the scumbags are is useful information, but usually one can (and prefers to) identify them without being beaten.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
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