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A Lot to Do with Nothing

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"Can parenting or child rearing be non-punitive?" Is one of the most common questions that parents

ask. If spanking is so effective, why do most people have such an uneasy feeling about it? Some how we

cannot silence our inner doubts about the long term effects of physical punishment. We are a little

embarrassed by the use of force and we keep saying to ourselves, ""here ought to be a better way of rearing

children." Another reason is, within ourselves, no one wants to be hit.

While hitting releases anger and frustration, and might work in the short-term, what parents really

want is for children to be self controlled and disciplined. If long term goals are not addressed, bad behavior

will return as soon as the person doing the punishing leaves. Non punitive actions can create well behaved,

independent, socially developed children.

Physical punishment is not a constructive method of discipline. It tells the child that you are

displeased with what they have done, but it doesn't tell them how to behave in a way that will be more


According to Professor Murray A. Straus "Physical punishment unfortunately is the foundation on

which the edifice of family violence rests." He also states that, "Physical punishment is the way most people

first experience violence and it establishes the emotional context of association love with violence." The

child learns early that those who love him or her are also those who hit.

Since physical punishment has been used as a method to train children or to teach them about

dangerous things to be avoided, it also establishes the moral rightness of hitting other family members. A

further unintended consequence of spanking is the lesson that, when something is really important it justifies

the use of physical force.

Lets think for a minute. Haven't you heard this statement many times, and it has been proven.

"Adults who were abused as children become abusive parents." If that is so, then adults who were reared

with physical force will rear their children with physical force.

The question now at hand is, what is discipline? The word discipline has fallen into ill repute through

the years. It had respectable origins in a Latin root which established its connections with education in the

dictionary: Training that develops self control, character, or orderliness and efficiency." Common usage

has corrupted the word so that discipline today is used synonymously with punishment, particularly corporal


Now that we have taken a brief look at a few side effects of physical force, the next question is, if

physical punishment creates unwanted behavior, how do you rear children without physical force? There

are many answers and solutions to this age old problem. In a few minutes we shall look at a few ways of

shaping a child's behavior without physical force. However, before we do, let me remind you that, no one

person has all the answers. In order to become a successful parent, you must constantly search for ideas

and put them into action. Also remember, noting changes or can be accomplished successfully overnight,

but with diligence and patience it can be done. If you need help in these areas by all means take care of

them first. Diligence and patience is a "must" in rearing children.

Ways of shaping a child's behavior can be accomplished through praise, stern words, love and

affection, consistency, understanding child development



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