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All parenting experts agree that children should have consequences when they misbehave but how do you know when punishment becomes excessive? How do you know what the line is between reasonable and over the top?
As a general rule, physical punishment is considered excessive. Anything that requires belts, paddles, switches are dangerous and must be avoided most definitely.
Where spanking is concerned, the best research (that is, research done by people who are dispassionate on the subject) consistently find that contrary to the ideological myth, when spankings are occasional, moderate (two to four swats on the child’s rear end), and administered by loving parents who spank with their hands only, they are not associated with psychological, behavioural, or social problems.
Successful discipline is a matter of properly manipulating consequences and it’s not always necessary to respond to misbehaviour with consequences. Consequences are overrated and often overused.
The key to effective discipline is an attitude, a certain presentation style, not consequences or punishment. When parents act like their authority is legitimate, that they know what they are doing and why, children do what they are told. When parents explain, threaten, yell, plead, and the like, children take every opportunity to misbehave.
Punishment is an essential aspect of an effective disciplinary approach. Research — again, studies done by dispassionate individuals — confirms that assertion.
It’s important to note that the “size” of a punishment does not determine whether it is excessive or not. That is determined by the parent’s attitude. Punishment is likely to be excessive when the parent is angry and using punishment as a form of “payback.”
The parent in question is being impulsive and vengeful as opposed to calmly corrective. Whatever message the parent intends to send is blurred by his or her emotional reaction to the child’s misbehaviour.
Punishment that is driven by emotion accomplishes nothing and serves only to elicit emotion from the child. It accomplishes nothing of value; therefore, by definition, it is excessive.
Tribune News Service
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