Is anyone familiar with the bible quote, “Spare the rod, spoil the child”? Even if you are agnostic, or do not believe in the Bible, chances are that you may have been using this philosophy for parenting. The idea is that if we do not spank our children, then they will have no boundaries. This interpretation also assumes that without corporal punishment children will not grow up to respect others, especially their elders. But what does research actually say about this sort of “fear based” disciplne?
Well, according to Elizabeth Gershoff, associate professor in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Texas Austin, corporal punishment actually can have many negative consequences. Kids may be more likely to have a hostile nature about them, may find it hard to connect with their parents, and often do not get the opportunity to learn what they should be doing but are only scolded for what they should NOT be doing. Gershoff also argues that spankings can lead to abuse, due to the angry feelings the parent often has while the corporate punishment is taking place. The idea of “I’m gonna teach him a lesson” may not be teaching a life long lesson but rather promoting the child to just do better at not getting caught next time the opportunity arises. Even with the astounding research, our society still looks at corporate punishment as an effective means to discipline children.
So then lets look at what the reference, “spare the rod, spoil the child” could mean given Elizabeth’s suggestion from her research. We must break down what discipline really is. In part 2 of the series, “Children and Discipline” we disect the term and look at what research says about incentive and reward driven learning. Please comment if you have anything to add to this discussion.
Hope everyone is having a great week!