Basically, discipline is about teaching the child the correct actions and to control their impulses. Discipline requires the development of compliance from the child. The parents could establish an authoritarian, permissive, or authoritative style of parental discipline. The child is being prepared to learn to obey the rules and regulations in the society. Through positive and negative discipline, the child would be exposed to positive and negative responses from their parents.
They were given instructions and corrections whenever they misbehave. Physical or corporal punishment is usually employed by parents when disciplining their children. Although physical punishment have advantages and disadvantages, it is best to limit the use of this method of discipline to promote a good parent and child relationship.
The mind upon birth, according to John Locke, is like a blank tablet. As the person develops and matures, the mind is filled with information gathered from experiences and mental processes. This implies that the society, especially the people that surrounds the child as he or she grows up, have great influence to his behavior and character. Given that, parents are often the provider of nurturance and support; they are the most influential persons to the child. This influence is being transmitted through the relationship between the parents and the child.
The behavior and beliefs of a child must be acceptable to the society to which the child belongs. The parents must be able to help the child identify what he or she is permissible to do and what are the things that she must refrain from doing. In view of this fact, children do not learn instantaneously. As a child grows and develops, he is constantly absorbing the things that as he perceives them.
The main mechanism of learning from the first few months until two years is through imitation. It is only after the child could communicate verbally that the child could express and understand what the parents and other grown-ups are trying to say. This denotes that the manner of learning differs as the child matures.
In order to guide a child to act’ in certain ways, the parent/s or guardian/s employ disciplinary actions. Discipline, according to Carl Pickardt (2005), “is a combination of parental instruction and parental correction through which a child is taught to live according to family values and to act within family rules”. As could be expounded from the above explanation, discipline requires two factors: instructions and corrections. Discipline refers to the proper combination of these. Pickardt (2005) advise the parents to make sure that they give two positive instructions for every negative correction that they implement.
Instructions are given to guide the child in the form of examples or modeling. The child would usually look up to his parents as models. Since children starts learning through imitation, they would normally do what their parents are doing. Thus, it is important to maintain that the parent’s action would match with his or her action. If the parent will give an instruction but fails to follow the instruction himself, the child might become confused whether to follow his parent’s conduct or whether he does as he instruct. For example, the parent instruct the child not to play with the dogs however, the parent always play with the dogs before giving them food. When the child sees this, he will also want to play with the dogs and do what his parent did. This denotes that an effective discipline requires consistency. The child would yell at the parents if the parents are always yelling at the child or to one another. The child will perceive the action as a norm and act accordingly. Thus, if a parent has a habit that he do not want to pass onto his child, it is essential for him to explain to the child that such habit is wrong and must not be imitated. For instance, when the child yells at his parents when they are at the dinner table, they must tell the child that yelling is not a proper conduct. They should back this claim with instances wherein yelling is not acceptable. They should explain why they were yelling, like if they want to say something to each other when they are 5 meters apart. This will help the child to understand why the parents yell and why it is wrong to yell if one is talking to someone sitting next to you.
Another important aspect in giving instructions is the possibility that the child will forget what he is instructed to do. The parent must take into consideration that the child’s thought is easy to distract. Moreover, the child could not remember everything at once. Thus, repetition of instructions could help the child remember better.
Corrections, on the other hand, are given if the child “misbehaves”. The parent must employ correction techniques that would suit the age of the child. As explained above, children below three years old are not yet communicative. By this the child would not understand why he is being corrected or whether what he did is wrong. If the parent would insist on correcting the child then the child might develop fear.
It is essential that the child under the age of three will receive productive instruction instead of correction. Correction is given only if the misbehavior is deliberate (Pickardt, 2005). Some examples of corrections are words like don’t, stop, quiet, and behave. A parent must never forget that the one that must be corrected is the child’s behavior. Therefore, the parent must not hate or reject the child. Moreover, when correcting a child, the parent should always give explanation and further directions. This shall help the child recognize his mistake and know the things that should have been done instead.
The responses that the parent gives to the child could be in the expressed as rewards and punishments. Rewards, even as simple as appreciating or praising a child whenever he followed instructions build the trust and confidence of the child to himself. On the other hand, every time that a child is punished, the child develops fear or loses interest to try to do things. If the child receives more punishments than rewards, there is a possibility that the child would feel inferior and grow emotionally farther from his parents. Rewards strengthen the bond between the parent and the child to the extent that the child would feel happy whenever he obeys or meet the expectations of his parents.
There are two ways to discipline a child. The first one is through positive discipline and the other is through negative discipline. According to Doescher and Burt (1995), there are several ways to express positive discipline. The first one is by giving positive statements to the child. When the child does something good, the parent should praise the child’s accomplishment. By doing this, the child will recognize that he is doing the right thing.
Another way of positive discipline is by asking questions that encourage actions. By asking the child, “What should we do next?” the parent is encouraging the child to think analyze the situation. This helps the children to become critical thinkers.
The parents should also use proper language. As explained, children are imitators. Thus, the child should be given responses that are appropriate for his age. Moreover, children long attention. Therefore, the parents should make sure that their actions complement their words. For instance, if the parent is saying that it is alright, but the parent is showing an angry face, shouting, and not looking at the child. The child would feel that things are not alright.
Positive discipline also involves redirecting the child’s behavior, providing the child with choices, encouraging the child to attempt new things and setting limitations to what the child is allowed to do. The positive method of discipline induces the child to create his own choices and express his emotions and feelings. Positive discipline also helps the parents to understand their child better and to become closer to them. Positive discipline creates a supportive role for the parents.
The second way to discipline a child is through negative discipline, which seeks to control the child. This method could be applied by giving commands, forbidding the child, criticizing the child, threatening the child, giving unreasonable punishments, and showing anger. All of these acts could lower the child’s self-esteem and creates a gap between the parent and child relationships.
According to Barbara Rogoff, there are different styles of parental discipline. The first is the authoritarian style wherein the child is being controlled by their parents. This implies that the child is not free to act in his own. If this is the case, the children would be receiving more corrections than instructions, more punishments than rewards, and is therefore being discipline in a more negative way.
The second style of parental discipline is the permissive style, wherein the child grows with little or no parental control. In the permissive style, the parents believe that the child should be “free from external control and allowed to express their own behaviors” (Sommer, 83). The notion of freeing the child from control came from the idea that the child should be allowed to express himself and develop self-realization on his own.
The third parental style is the authoritative style. This is the mean between the authoritarian and the permissive styles. It focuses on the idea that parents should guide their children but must also ask for their opinion (Rogoff, 208). Sommers (84) also call this style as “democratic” because both the child and the parents could express what they think and how they feel. This type of parental discipline requires the child to achieve a goal and act according to the acceptable social behavior. The parents normally engage in a “give and take relationship with their children” (Sommers, 84). The parents set their demands to control the child’s action while giving room for the child to express himself through asking for his opinions and response. This type of parental discipline is highly compatible with giving instructions and rewards through positive discipline.
In its entirety, the paper shows that positive discipline is better than negative discipline. Nonetheless, there are several parents that still use negative discipline, especially the use of physical punishment as a form of discipline. In order to weigh the circumstances, I would like to present the arguments for and against physical punishment. This clarification would reveal why parents are inclined to use physical punishment and why other people detest its use.
Corporal Punishment or physical punishment refers to “the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, for the purpose f correction or control of the child’s behavior” (Strauss and Donnely, 4). Note that physical punishment is not similar to physical abuse in terms of qualifying the intention for action. In physical punishment, there is no intended injury, only pain that would make the child realize that if he misbehaves he will receive the pain. This is believed to be effective because children are pain-avoiding. The common types of corporal punishments are “spanking, slapping, grabbing or shoving a child roughly, and hitting with certain objects as a hair brush, belt, or paddle” (Strauss and Donnely, 5). In the United States, physical punishment is permitted as a form of discipline, provided that the child will not suffer serious injury.
The first argument to support physical punishment reflects its immediacy. According to Watson and Skinner (77), immediate compliancy is one of the positive child behaviors that are associated with corporal punishment. This is reflected by the immediate discontinue of misbehavior by the child that received the physical punishment. Nonetheless, for the punishment to become effective, it should be administer right after the misbehavior occurred.
The second argument states that corporal punishment is milder in terms of psychological damage. According to Myers (88), psychological maltreatment and verbal aggression increase the chances that the child would become “physically aggressive, delinquent, or experience interpersonal problems” than physical punishment.
Moreover, physical punishment is easier to remember for a child. It is easier to associate the misbehavior to being beaten than associating misbehavior to a series of explanation. For example, if the child will play with the dogs and the parent told him that he should not do this because the dog might hurt him. He will not understand the rationale because the dog had not yet harmed him. Also, if the children will not be punished immediately, the child may not be able to see the wrongness of his action. It is hard for the child to relate corrections or instructions with the misbehavior if it will be discussed in a later time or if the scene was already removed. For instance, if you are telling the child that he should not color the walls because it is hard to clean after the walls were already cleaned. The child might have difficulty understanding the instructions, unlike when he received punishments when he was caught using crayons on the wall. Furthermore, parents who love their children would not intentionally injure them or hurt them badly.
The arguments against physical punishment are backed with several research studies that show its negative results. First, physical punishment is known to cause psychological damage that could damage the social relationship of the child with his parents and peers. Turner (135) showed that the child that was physically punished feels that the child “feels hated or resented by their parents, damaging their self-esteem”.
The next argument against physically punishment is that it may result to physical injury leading to physical abuse. The tension or anger that the parent felt might be too much to handle to the point that the parent could not control the intensity of physical punishment. When this is the case, there is a great possibility that the physical punishment would become injurious, causing bruises or breaking the child’s bones. The third argument states that it is probable that the child would think that physical aggression is acceptable in the society. Again, children imitate what they parents do.