Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child? The Unexpected Way Religious Beliefs Influence Parents’ Views of Discipline
How do religious beliefs impact parents’ views of physical discipline? Parents’ support for using physical punishment with their children varies, to some degree, by religious affiliation. For Christian parents in particular, various factors influence approaches to physical discipline.
No person has a “right” to strike another, no matter how close the relationship. I remember fifty years ago seeing a mother chase her child with a stick, shouting “I brought you into this world and I can put you in the cemetery!” Luckily, the child was faster than his mother. But the idea of a “right” to hit a child is no laughing matter.
Discipline has a significant role to play in what is arguably the world’s most important job—raising children to be moral and responsible members of society. And, not surprisingly, there’s no shortage of advice about how to do it. Unfortunately, a lot of it is contradictory.
Even in the best of circumstances, parenting is super hard work and takes tremendous patience. When we have so many other concerns in life and then we add in a child who is misbehaving, it is tempting to give the child a smack. But let me tell you what the research shows: Spanking does not achieve our parenting goals.
When we talk about discipline, we usually refer to the efforts by parents and teachers to reduce or eliminate annoying or inappropriate child behaviors. Punishment is designed to suppress or reduce behavior and may appear like the perfect match for these goals. The term “discipline” includes the notions of instruction but also of punishment.
Picture this: You are in a store. Two young children are nearby with their parents. Each of them suddenly erupts into a tantrum. Your intense irritation leads you to utter, “What those kids need is some good, old-fashioned discipline!” In that moment, you want those parents to make those children stop crying and do whatever it is that their parents have told them to do – now!
Psychologist, George Holden, shares 5 useful analogies from sedimentary rocks for why parents physically punish their children.
By Dawn X. Henderson, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, Winston-Salem State University) Some of the lines in the classic 1982 song, Mad World, capture the lived experience of many black and brown children in the public school system in the United States. When people run in circles, it’s a very very mad world… Children waiting for… Read More ›
By Alan E. Kazdin, PhD (Director, Yale Parenting Center) & Lauren G. Fasig Caldwell, JD, PhD (Director, APA Children, Youth, and Families Office) Timeouts are a disciplinary tool that is widely misunderstood and frequently misused. Everyone has heard of timeouts, and they seem simple to use. Your child does something wrong, you send her to sit… Read More ›