Before Studying Psychology… Part 1: Corporal Punishment

I have to say, studying psychology has completely changed the way I view the world. It caused me to reflect on the many values and morals I had originally held and question them. Why do I feel this way towards these issues? Was this opinion one I made for myself or one that may have been subconsciously instilled in me by my upbringing or society?

Before studying psychology I believed that corporal punishment ( physical punishment, as spanking, inflicted on a child by an adult in authority) was also completely acceptable.

(And here I’m not talking about a swift slap on the hand when the child takes candy that they’ve just been told they can’t have. I am talking parents that are excessively hitting, smacking and using things like belts.)

I had been spanked myself as a child, and my grandfather gave me more than my fair share in whoopings with his belt. I turned out great! Right? Isn’t that how we all justify hitting our children? That has to be the NUMBER #1 defense I hear on this issue. Well I feel differently now, again, after looking at quite a few studies and honestly after watching quite a few series of Super Nanny (ha-ha). There are other ways to discipline kids! MAJORITY of the time when you see an adult hit a child, it is a quick reaction fueled by annoyance or anger. It is typically not a parent calmly explaining to the child the fault in their actions and then a quick spank. It typically is…Kid acts out. Parent yells. Kid continues to act out. Parent gets frustrated and BAM BAM BAM I TOLD YOU TO STOP THAT BAM BAM BAM. Sometimes right after you’ll even hear the parent almost sorrowful while they explain that “I love you very much okay? I told you to stop acting up!”

Let me explain now what you have just taught your child. When someone behaves inappropriately, it is okay to inflict pain upon them because they have done wrong. When you get hit, you may not defend yourself because this punishment is a lesson and you’re fairly helpless against your larger opponent. Also, it is okay for people to hit you when you’ve been bad, even people that love you.


We do NOT hit people that we love! Now we’re starting to see that as children grow up and girl’s become women, they have this idea ingrained in them that it’s okay for people that love them to hit them. Women stay in horribly unhealthy and abusive relationships because they justify men’s behaviors by saying things like…

“I provoked it.” “I shouldn’t have done what I did.” “He’s sorry he really does love me.” “He apologized right after! He won’t do it again!” “He doesn’t know how to express himself and the anger gets the best of him!”

Do these statements not sort of represent what could be going through a child’s mind after a good belt spanking? I shouldn’t have done what I did. He loves me. His anger got the best of him. Hmm…

If you think when I was a little sassy girl in grade school I wasn’t caught slapping kids who acted up around me you’re mistaken. But why is that bad? That’s what I was taught right? When you’re bad, I will discipline you with violence. If your schoolmate steals your truck that’s wrong right…in my little mind I’m thinking maybe if I just hit them…

Do not try to say that this is the most effective way to get your child to listen. Honestly I joke, but Super Nanny really is a fantastic show if you genuinely are at a point where you don’t think you have control over your children and need some help disciplining. The show offers A MILLION AND ONE COMPLETELY non-violent and effective ways to help parents, parent. If the message you’re trying to get across is “this behavior is unacceptable and because of that you need to be punished so that you don’t do it again” why is violence the only way to portray that? Are we allowed to act in violence when we are older and in a situation like this? In school are your beaten or are you given detention? At work are you beaten or are you written up/fired? In public if someone aggravates you, will you just start beating them or will you take a different approach? We are literally raising our children to think something is okay when if they grow older and act the same way they can be arrested or fined for that very thing. Fighting is not acceptable in our society and that’s why it’s punishable by law. Children are the future adults people, let’s stop raising them to handle anger with abuse.

A list of 10 things you can do rather than making your child cry out in pain because you couldn’t control your rage:

  1. Take toys away (electronics).
  2. Take privileges away (TV).
  3. Time out.
  4. Set up a reward system for good behavior
  5. Explain to the child what they did wrong!!! Speak to them like an adult!!!
  6. Grounding
  7. GIVE YOURSELF (AS THE ADULT) A TIME OUT. If you feel yourself starting to boil, that’s okay, but separate yourself from the situation before you have a jerk reaction. Calm is effective.
  8. Do “make ups” – If your child misbehaves offer a deal. “You should not have eaten that before dinner but if you help me with the dishes and some chores we can pretend it didn’t happen.”
  9. Write an apology letter.
  10. Point system (add for positive behavior and subtract for negative).

I have literally had a child throwing a temper tantrum in the emergency room and then the second I told them I was going to take away their sticker they were immediately silent. Now obviously it won’t always be that easy but at the end of the day these are children we’re dealing with people. Please just don’t try to say there was no other way to get them to listen other than to hit them.



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