?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 doesnt 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. Havent 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 childs 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 childs behavior can be accomplished through praise, stern words, love and
affection, consistency, understanding child development and using developmental techniques, building
strong family ties, good nutrition, physical education, sex education, and your childs academics.
Thats the word from educations and experts who say praise is the most powerful weapon a parent
can wield in shaping a childs behavior . As behavior expert Olga Davis of Miami, Florida points out,
Children crave attention and plenty of it. By praising all the nice things they do, theyll act like little ladies
and gentlemen just to hear you tell them how wonderful they are. Here are some expert tips she offers to
help you along the way: Be specific in your praise, also be creative. Your child will become tired of hearing
you tell them that their smart or good all the time. Use the adjective at your command. Remember,
sometimes a simple pat on the back will do. When you praise a child you create self condifence in him. A
child who believes in their own worth are able to face the challenges of the world. They are not afraid to
make an occasional mistake. Letting your child know that you have confidence in him, youre giving him the
confidence that will help him have a successful outcome while he is under going the different stages of
According to Nancy Samalin, Director of Parent Guidance Workshops, Children need to know t hat
you are the adult, that you are taking responsibility for some things.
Here are some tips which allow parents to spare the rod without spoiling the child:
1. Provide choices, instead of telling Johnny not to play with his water gun in the living room,
give him authorization to play with t in a designated place. For instance say, play with the
water gun in the bathroom or the backyard. This is a great behavioral tool. Ms. Samalin
also points out that providing choices you eliminate the need for power struggle.
2. Let children help seek solutions.
3. Follow the one word rule. Instead of preaching, lecturing, or threatening boil commands
down to a few key words. One example: youve told your child a dozen times to put their
toys away and she hasnt done it. Instead of going on and on about how tired you are of
picking up after them simply say, Toys