There are several interpretations given to the definition of discipline, and these have caused misunderstanding. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), lucidly defines ‘discipline’ as a process that enables children to become social, productive and responsible adults, which is maintained by a set of rules that governs behaviour and conduct with the aim of developing character. ‘Therefore, discipline is not all about ‘beating.’
When a parent beats a child, it only teaches the child that using violence is an acceptable way of solving problems. Using corporal punishment, like beating, hitting, caning, pinching etc, is not an effective method of parenting, and where it may seem good to the punisher, it actually causes discomfort and mental disorders.
A child who is spanked will feel a level of discomfort. Over a period of time, he will feel wrong inside and the relationship between the child and the parent will sooner or later weaken. If the more a child misbehaves, the more he is spanked, ultimately, the worse he will feel. This will then cause the child to turn his anger inward and become depressed; which can cause long-lasting anxiety, social withdrawal and severe depression, posited Dr Jennifer Shu, a medical practitioner. The cycle will eventually continue. The child should know that he did wrong and to feel remorse, but the values and dignity of the child should not be affected or lost.
Moreover, hitting a child increases his risk of mental illness. A study was conducted, known as “Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders,” by the American Academy of Pediatrics proved that children who are spanked, hit or pushed have an increased risk of mental problems when they grow older. The research showed that the effect can range from mood and anxiety disorders to drug and alcohol abuse. While it may be true that many of today’s parents were spanked as children and are now well-adjusted, previous studies have also shown that those who were spanked are at a higher risk to be depressed, use alcohol, hit their spouse or own children; and engage in violent or criminal behaviours.
In concluding, discipline without beating is the correct way forward. A child should be corrected when in the wrong and the right approach for rehabilitation should be taken. Consequently, when it comes to knowing how to discipline a child, the focus should be placed on three key areas: giving them the positive attention they need and crave, taking time for training, and setting limits and sticking to them. If a child is in the wrong, he should be informed and then guided so as to correct the wrong. When a child is being disciplined, it is to create positive adjustments, and not to worsen and cause discomfort and mental illness. ‘Discipline’ is a process that enables children to become social, productive and responsible adults, so ‘discipline without beating.’
About the Author:
Ackeem Smith is a 19-years-old student at the William Knibb High School, he is currently in the upper sixth form. He aspires to be a lawyer, a politician and the prospective Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Editor at Large, Mckoy’s News: the views expressed on this post are that of the writer and not that of Mckoy’s News.