Physical punishment is one of the strategies parents opt as a last resort for dealing with the child’s conduct. It is a discipline method that has spanned generations, which is used to make a child feel the pain to switch or correct any unacceptable behavior. There is no panacea to tackle the snags you face in parenting. Undoubtedly, dealing with children’s unpleasant behavior is a serious matter for which you can hardly bury your head in the sand. In such cases, one must take the bull by the horns to avoid any consequences or irksome effects on a child’s personality. For that matter, there are several stratagems which include, physical activities, positive reinforcement, and negotiation, regular counselling, attention, encouragement, empathy and appreciation etc. must be adopted to have a positive influence on the child’s mental development – a euphemism for the physical punishment. In this way, many unwelcome consequences like aggression, depression, anxiety, emotional injury, lying behaviors or lessening social intelligence etc. can be eschewed easily.
Stance in Favour
Tragically, on the other hand, some parents have a diverse stance who endorse physical punishment as a must to address behavioral problems. They claim that there are many benefits to this parenting tool. To them, it is beneficial on a short-term basis to make children change any misconduct. It is one of their beliefs that instead of wasting time in teaching them how to behave, better show them the fear of doing anything wrong. This way, they will comply with and behave absolutely right when they are afraid of being punished. Moreover, there is a difference between physical punishment and physical abuse. The former term refers to cause pain without any physical injury whereas the latter involves physical injury as a result of punching, kicking, and beating, shaking, burning or harming a child any other way.
Another argument in supporting physical punishment, some adults claim that physical discipline has contributed to their success. They assert that they not only suffered but also learned valuable lessons which turned out beneficial in their adult lives. Many of them had been spanked as children from their parents. And they lived as a productive and active member of society. Hence, they feel it is a proper method of disciplining a child, as they are neither violent nor hit their children.
Likewise, one more argument for physical punishment is its deterrent impact. If a child is punished in front of other children. Consequently, not only that child learns to behave but other children also learn a lesson.
Beyond any doubt, parents – humanists, are eager and always desire that their children are loved the most. To achieve this underlying goal they tend to employ every manoeuver to keep their child’s misconduct under reasonable control without sabotaging the child’s mental and physical health. One cannot leave out of account without fixing behavior problems in child-rearing, which is natural. The best of both worlds in raising the child is to keep the balance between managing the unexpected behavior and child’s mental, physical and emotional protection. It is quite natural that sometimes adults can’t help being irritated or short-tempered, so do the kids - who act unlike us as expected. They do become cranky and quarrelsome when hungry or when do not get enough sleep.
Undoubtedly, there is always an alternative to a solution to a problem. Similarly, there are multiple non-punitive approaches to confront the child’s annoying or troublesome behavior instead of inflicting pain or physical harm to them.
Multiple Approaches other than Punishment
Acknowledging the desired behavior of the child will automatically increase its frequency. In addition, admiring a child to reward benign behaviours is only effective when it is done repeatedly, immediately following the behavior, specific to that particular behavior and when reinforced by non-verbal rewards like a smile, touch or a high-five. Kids who receive regular positive reinforcement are more motivated to respond better and work hard.
Setting mandatory rules with a child’s contribution and involvement go a long way. Giving the child a voice directly affects them. Setting up rules with their consent will turn out to be fair in following and obeying them. Besides, age-appropriate boundaries and limitation should be established before the child tempts to attempt anything violent or risky.
Similarly, another effective way is to discuss the problematic behavior and negotiate with the child. Like adults, kids get grumpy as well. It is better to find a solution to that particular behavior to overcome the obstinacy by a healthy conversation with your child, what and how he/she might do to resolve.  The child should be engaged regularly in this process of problem-solving whenever the behavior is exasperating.
Harboring, very common in children who fear the consequences. It is important to encourage the child to express verbally without any negative feeling they might hide. Undoubtedly, it is essential to let the child know that his all feelings are important. They are at liberty to talk about their anger or anguish like their love, gratitude and joy. Simply being there for the child will dissuade to reverting to unpleasant behavior, as children don’t need to be agreed upon their requests or demands rather than to be heard, empathized and understood. The important thing here is to be flexible and creative enough until you help the child arrive at a point to have a “win” for both of you.
Your Child Strives to be Like You
Allowing natural consequences to teach children what they find or learn best for themselves is another rule of thumb to avoid any misbehavior. Autonomous or unconstrained adults will eventually be prepared to make constructive decisions to confront the challenges in life. On the other hand, inflictive consequences are more likely to fall flat, endless power struggle or to a child who is aggressive and feels offended because he is not given any opportunity to participate in many regulations they expected to conform. Indirectly, it is the most effective way to teach them that they are responsible for themselves or any consequences if they fail. Also, this way if they are to act independently, they are taught to do with care or inadvertently they will end up punishing themselves.
Your child strives to be like you. He follows more than he listens to what you say. Setting a gold standard before the child works wonders. It is more likely to be the tip of the iceberg. Gradually they start copying you even if you are not there. You can start with regular home chores (depending on the age-appropriate activities). For example, making the bed after waking up, cleaning the table after a meal, organizing the wardrobe, shoe rack, making the dinner table, helping in the kitchen, cleaning, washing etc. These regular practices are a great source for regulating positive energy in children.
In the same manner, providing logical consequences are directly linked to misbehavior. It proves to be very helpful in shaping behavior. For example, if you want your child to pick up his toys himself, take away his privilege to play with his toys he does not pick up. This is a very quick way to teach him disciplining and behaving well at home. Next time he will follow by keeping his toys in place before you tell him to.
Praising is a great way of molding a child’s behavior or to address his tantrums instead of using physical punishment. For instance, if you want your child to participate in chores regularly, you must praise him when you see him following your actions like throwing trash in the bin, putting a dish in the sink etc. Make sure you praise specifically for the very task, so he/she may know why you are admiring him and it lets him know the worth of behaving responsibly.
Painting, the most favourite of all activities as children are more fascinated with colours. This approach undoubtedly is like icing on the cake, always serves the purpose. A child can easily be engaged in painting all day long. In leisure time, you may keep him busy in his art space, made in any corner of the house. This prevents him from showing tantrums or any impulsive behavior that results in physical retribution.
An effective way to let your child halt from any aggravating actions is to commune frequently. This does not let the child distract and provide him with a sense of security and feel of being loved as well. A child at a young age needs attention the most so by keep talking to him develops a friendly relationship between the child and parents. In such a relationship, the child shares the good times and any complications instantaneously if any. You can also acknowledge and fix every problem right away which subsequently leads to non-violent behavior.
Another productive method of disciplining behavior is creating a reward system. It is one of the effective ways to shape the behavior. Initially, do not expect perfection. If you want your child to be compliant do not expect him to comply consecutively for a week or so. He/she may resist or argue at first place but does what you ask to, do reward him. It is indeed difficult to earn a reward over time but reward small steps to see wonders.
Nonetheless, children are dear to all parents, no matter what. They want their children to be well-behaved, well-educated and successful in life to make a contribution to society. In this regard, physical punishment can be used to deal with immediate problems. This physical punishment shouldn’t be considered abusive. Spanking is generally defined as an open handed hitting which does not cause physical injury and is used to modify child’s vexatious behavior. Furthermore, parental spanking is generally advantageous to children under 5-6 years, when spanking is limited to not more than a slap when necessary. To supplement positive parenting and to utilize it to step up ahead to avoid aversive responses. Some parents consider spanking as physical abuse and refrain from it. They believe that it causes aggression, disobedience and disturbed mental health. Undeniably, physical abuse has a long term effect but physical punishment as spanking can be used as a last-ditch as long as it is limited to a slap or two – only to counteract annoying demeanor.
Conclusively, due to adverse and unfavorable outcome of regular physical punishment, it is better to nip the bad behavior in the bud. It is indeed a controversial topic to be debated on – as there are no such shreds of evidences which oppose or support on all counts. Primarily parents should use non-physical methods like reasoning, counselling, time outs, regular rewards or incentives with the careful use of non-abusive punishment such as spanking.