Upbringing and the idea of physical punishment are currently the major topics of numerous research studies. On the one hand, physical punishment is the quickest tool used by parents to explain to a child that what has been done is not right and justified. However, children do not always objectively understand this gesture because it denotes that something cannot be done but the genuine reason is omitted, which makes a child less open and more aggressive to the surrounding world. In fact, many theories and approaches can explain and expand on veritable consequences of physical punishment, as well as other more reasonable tools for cultivating new character traits and behaviors.
Numerous studies have proved that spanking and numerous other types of physical punishment can be detrimental to child development, although many parents fail to hear this message. This area of research is controversial because many studies emphasize negative consequences of physical pressure on children. People often become angry and, as a result, they find no other way out but to hit their children. A wide spectrum of research is also dedicated to the analysis of the physical punishment, such as hitting and spanking, which can result in the enhanced aggression, mental illness, antisocial behavior, and physical injury. American citizens’ acceptance of physical punishment has decreased since the 60s of the past century, although surveys reveal that almost 70% of Americans justify spanking as a method of punishment for their children (Smith, 2012). In fact, Smith (2012) has found many research facts, proving that spanking is not an effective tool for upbringing.
From an international perspective, physical discipline is often regarded as the breach of children’s human rights. According to Smith (2012), “physical punishment can work momentarily to stop problematic behavior because children are afraid of being hit, but it doesn’t work in the long term and can make children more aggressive.” Therefore, different other methods would be preferable for children to cultivate moral reasoning and awareness. As such, it is preferable to explain to a child what is stealing and why it is wrong because they cannot understand why they are punished. For instance, the counselor could explain that stealing is taking something that does not belong to a child and it is unacceptable and dishonest to take it because someone else has to work to buy or receive it. Such a situation is also a chance for teaching the concept of ownership.
With regard to the above-presented case studies, there is a myriad of theories and models that can be implemented and they exclude physical punishment as a means of the upbringing of children. Bucciarelli, Khemlani, and Laird-Johnson (2008) have presented the framework of moral reasoning to understand the activities, reactions, and behavioral patterns cultivated by individuals at certain periods of psychological development. Specifically, the researchers have developed their theory out of three, stating, “Reasoning or inference – we use the terms interchangeably – is any systematic mental process that constructs or evaluates implications for premises of some sort” (Bucciarelli et al., 2008). The implications can be both deductive and inductive, where the former refers to valid inferences, which yields a conclusion; whereas the induction goes beyond the data in premises. The researchers can also refine the aspects of induction and deduction to show that reasoning differs concerning individuals’ responses and conclusions. The term intuition is used to understand the unconscious premises of certain decisions. The researchers differentiate between conscious reasoning and intuition, where the latter is associated with unconscious reasoning. In this context, the researchers underline that the “child also appears to be reasoning consciously, though relying on the unstated premise that those who do something wrong to benefit others are less culpable than those who do something wrong to benefit themselves” (Bucciarelli et al., 2008,). In other words, in the given case, the child cannot realize what can happen if something is taken because the psychologist failed to provide reasons for not taking the bubble gum and, therefore, any type of punishment is not effective because there is no evident underpinning for doing that.
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Before punishing a child, the psychologist should learn more about the child’s family background to identify whether there are some negative role models. In fact, there have been rare instances when a child steals a toy or a candy for an unknown reason. Apparently, there is always a sort of interest and excitement, as well as the fact that this is forbidden by an adult. All these factors should be taken into consideration while explaining the reasons and consequences of inadequate behavioral patterns (Pathy & Hong, 2015). Additionally, Durrant and Ensom (2012) have investigated numerous research studies to conclude that there is a tangible shift in outlooks on the physical punishment. As such, several decades ago, the research demonstrated the connection between negative developmental consequences and physical punishment, which resulted in the adoption of the Convention on the Right of the Child (Durrant & Ensom, 2012). However, only four countries have issued the legislature banning physical punishment because it violates human rights. In 2000, this legislation was ratified in 191 countries, but only 11 states approved it (Durrant & Ensom, 2012). The growing amount of evidence recognizes the children’s right. The researchers have also reported on the healthcare issue to show that physical punishment can negatively affect children’s mental health, and the emphasis should be placed on the analysis of parent’s development.
In their research, Durrant and Ensom (2012) have also made an emphasis on the educational programs for parents who should be more aware of the study of children’s displaying behaviors. To support the idea, the studies have presented the fact that physical punishment increases the likelihood of enduring and broad negative developmental outcomes. No studies have detected the enhancement of developmental health by means of physical punishment. Furthermore, the majority of the child abuse cases takes place in the context of punishment. Finally, there is also unanimous consensus regarding the fact that parents should seek professional help to shape a healthy, nonviolence environment, with new approaches added to the entire education.
First, parents should start with modifying personal behavior and watch each activity and deed in which they are involved since children of such an age often copy behavior, believing that it is right and justified. Therefore, role models can be shaped and developed during childhood, which leads to serious outcomes during adolescence.
The counselor escorting the child should also have been more attentive in developing new patterns of management and development. The task of the caregiver is to explain why taking bubble gum is not allowed because, apparently, the child was given bubble gum at home. Hence, the child does not know any substantial grounds for not taking it. A 5-year child does not have a full awareness what ownership and possession mean. As a result, everything cannot be defined as “yours” and “mine.” Hence, everything that the child sees is automatically taken because it cannot belong to anyone else. However, the child is already beyond such understanding, and the caregiver is able to explain the meaning of belonging and possession. At this point, Smith (2012) proposes the implementation of a behavioral analysis, according to which the caregiver should reward a child for good behavior. However, inappropriate behavior is ignored and not reacted to, which is also a good approach because sometimes children resort to bad behaviors and reactions just to attract the attention of a parent.
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Finally, the caregiver should also teach children to confess about their bad deeds, which is also a sort of good response that can be reinforced by means of reward. In case children know that they can receive punishment for bad behaviors, such as stealing, it is unlikely that they will be willing to confess about it.
The analysis of theoretical frameworks in the light of the proposed case studies disapproves the use of physical punishment for any deed and under any circumstances because it can have serious consequences for the child’s health and psychological development. Instead, the emphasis should be placed on long-term strategies that can be achieved through the theory of moral reasoning, parent attachment, and behavioral analysis. To begin with, moral reasoning implies that the caregiver should explain to the child why stealing is wrong, resorting to simpler definitions of the word. Second, the caregiver should identify the underpinnings of such behavior, such as the presence of similar patterns of reaction and behavior in the family. In the majority of cases, a child copies and mutilates the behavior of adults. It can also be noticed in kindergarten. Third, the final stage of the educational initiative should involve the behavioral analysis that is premised on reinforcing positive behaviors and ignoring the negative ones, which means that a child will only be rewarded when something good is done. In the majority of cases, a child wants to attract attention by violating certain moral rules.
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