Domestic Corporal Punishment: The Right Parenting Style?

Sylvia Okedi

 

Domestic Corporal Punishment, also called physical punishment, is anything done by parents or guardians to cause pain and discomfort like spanking, hitting, pulling, pinching or causing one to eat hot pepper sauce, soap or other unpleasant substances in response to a child’s behaviour.

 

Corporal punishment has been used from time immemorial by different people in the world as a means of inculcating good behavioral conducts in children especially in Nigeria, where it is seen as the best way to discipline a child.

 

Physical discipline is slowly declining as some studies reveal lasting harms for children. A growing body of research has shown that spanking and other forms of physical punishments can pose serious risks to children, but many parents are not getting the message. It is believed that most parents and guardians punish their children out of frustration, stress or anger rather than the bad behaviour of the child.

 

On the international front, physical discipline is increasingly being viewed as a violation of children’s rights. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a directive in 2006 calling physical punishment “legalized violence against children” that should be eliminated in all settings through “legislative, administrative, social and educational measures.” The treaty that established the committee has been supported by 192 countries, with only the United States and Somalia failing to ratify it.

 

Many studies have shown that physical punishment — including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain, can lead to increased aggression, low self-esteem, antisocial behaviour, physical injury and mental health problems for children. “Physical punishment can work momentarily to stop problematic behaviour because children are afraid of being hit, but it doesn’t work in the long term and can make children more aggressive,” says Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD, a professor of psychology and principal investigator for the Child Violence and Trauma Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

 

Growing up as a child, the best style my uncle used was hitting me with belt and fresh Neem stick, at a point I got used to it and it meant nothing to me, hence, it didn’t deter me from my bad behaviour and later he started using punishments like kneeling down, eyes closed and hands up, peeping with more of talking to address my behaviour and that helped more. However, I am of the opinion that corporal punishment is a form of child abuse when it is severe, that is, where injury is afflicted or a child ends up hospitalized in the so called display of “tough love” by parents because this treatment is only effective for a while.

 

Parents should learn how to manage their temperament by telling the child what he/she has done wrong and why the punishment, not the normal pouncing on the child before letting the child know the reason for your actions because at the end of the day the child might not know why the beating or hitting.

 

Parents can also take away certain privileges enjoyed by the child like video games, watching TV and monthly allowance.

 

Good relationship between parents and wards should be appreciated and spoken with love always in guiding towards good behaviour.

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