Does Punishment Work?

Physical Punishment is Ineffective and Harmful

Effective discipline does not involve physical punishment of children.

Recent studies have shown a direct link between physical punishment and several negative developmental outcomes for children including physical injury, increased aggression, antisocial behavior, difficulty adjusting as an adult and a higher tolerance towards violence.

Research has also shown that physical punishment poses a risk to the safety and development of children.

It is crucial for parents to gain an awareness of other approaches to discipline because it is all too simple for physical punishment to turn into child abuse and result in severe physical injury, detrimental emotional damage and even death.

Each year thousands of children continue to die as a result of physical abuse.

Children have a right to be protected from physical abuse, and laws in every state demand severe punishment for those found guilty of physically harming a child.

Most parents do not want to use physical punishment as a form of discipline.

A child that lives in an abusive environment is likely to grow up and either be abusive themselves or have severe social, emotional, physical and cognitive delays in development.

Parents’ disciplinary methods serve as strong models to children that teach them how to deal with life’s day-to-day challenges.

It is important for parents to model appropriate behavior and to establish expectations as well as limits.

Children have a right to live in a safe, secure and nurturing environment, and their dignity must be respected.

Parents must consistently use fair and logical consequences whenever children fail to follow rules.

They must keep in mind that a child is not a miniature adult, but only a child and that discipline must be age appropriate and fit the child’s temperament and maturity.

Adults who recognize they have a problem with physically abusing their children should immediately seek professional help and ensure their children are taken to a safe environment to avoid harming them further.

Punishment actually does work to shape different behaviors in children.

What you want to use punishment for is to guide your child towards a more positive, acceptable means of behavior.

I like to think of punishment and discipline and consequences as something that goes hand-in-hand.

Parents often ask me,

“What type of punishment should I use for this specific situation?”

I always remind parents that punishment needs to be something that’s realistic.

And it needs to be a situation or a consequence that really fits the negative behavior.

For instance, if a child breaks something in the home, a punishment or consequence may be to take time away from your child’s computer time and fix the particular thing that they broke, so that there’s actually a connection between the negative behavior and something positive.

Punishment should never be punitive.


It should be something that’s used as a teaching situation.

I often want to remind parents too that punishment, discipline and consequences aren’t the only ways to shape behavior.

But before you even get to a consequence, you may want to try praise and encouragement when your child is doing something positive..

As found on Youtube


LONDON — The government of Wales (UK) has a question for parents: Is it ever right to physically punish your children?

It began a 12-week feedback process on the issue on Tuesday, with officials saying they hoped to join more than 50 countries that have adopted an outright ban on the practice.

They would also be following the example of Scotland, which announced plans for a ban after a consultation of its own last summer.

“We all want to give our children the best start in life,” said Huw Irranca-Davies, the Welsh minister for children and social care, and a father of three boys.

“Children do not come with an instruction manual and sometimes parents need guidance and support to help them raise healthy and happy children.”

Some opposition to a ban has already gathered.

A group called Be Reasonable, named after an exemption in current assault laws for “reasonable punishment” of children by parents, says it has more than 1,500 names on a petition against the proposal, in a nation of a little over 3 million people.

“A little gentle slap here and there is just a part of teaching discipline,” a Be Reasonable campaigner, Angie Robins, a mother of three from Newport, in southeast Wales, said in a telephone interview.

“It never did anyone any harm.”

The campaigners argue that the law already protects children from abuse and that the authorities should focus on enforcing those laws instead of wasting time on trivial cases and criminalizing “good parents.”

“Every child is different and needs different types of discipline,” Mrs. Robins argued, adding that such decisions should be made by the parent and not the government.

But Welsh government officials say physical punishment is outdated and ineffective, and can have negative long-term effects.

“If there is any potential risk of harm to a child, then it is our obligation as a government to take action,” Mr. Irranca-Davies said.

Sarah Lewis, a nanny of two children in the Welsh capital, Cardiff, said a ban was crucial to protect children because every parent or guardian had a different understanding of what “reasonable” punishment meant.

“I’ve seen parents publicly beat their children when they are misbehaving. and it’s outright abusive and damaging,” Mrs. Lewis said. “You can discipline a child without smacking them.”

Britain’s leading children’s charity, the N.S.P.C.C., welcomed Wales’s move.

The charity has long campaigned for children to have the same protection against assault as adults, an N.S.P.C.C. spokesman said, describing it as “a  common-sense move, which is about fairness and equality for children.”

Mr. Irranca-Davies said the consultation would help the government address concerns as the legislation develops.


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