I believe that some children do not need to be spanked, because they can be disciplined in other ways such as time outs and taking away privileges. In other words, spanking should be administered on the basis of the severity of the misbehavior. However, if spanking is needed in order to keep a child from behaving badly, then there is nothing wrong with doing so.
When I counseled children who obviously needed discipline, I would suggest to the child’s parents or guardians to tailor their discipline plan according to what the child responds to best. In other words, if a child does not seem to be affected if his or her T.V. time is taken away as punishment, then the parent should use some other form of discipline that the child does not enjoy.
Something I heard more than once from parents or the guardians of young clients is that they let the CHILD choose the punishment that they think will stop the unwanted behavior, instead of the parent or guardian doing so. Of course, it does not take too much reasoning to realize that a child is going to pick the least effective punishment, so this method certainly has a 0% success rate from what I’ve seen in those who have practiced it. By not allowing a child to suffer some sort of punishment that he or she does not enjoy, parents are teaching their children that there are not real consequences to their actions. This, in turn, will cause the child to grow up without being taught the skill of problem solving and making informed decisions for his or herself, and therefore, children who are not taught the difference between right and wrong at home will be more likely to make poor choices when they grow up.
Another idea that I tried to impress upon my client’s guardians was to set boundaries with their child. The act of setting boundaries means that a child must learn early on a well defined pattern of consequences for his or her actions. These boundaries must be structured and not change. If a child learns that he or she may suffer the consequences of their actions once or twice instead of every time he or she conducts inappropriate behavior, then the child will not stop the behavior. If, however, the child learns that he or she will receive a certain punishment every time he or she acts inappropriately, then that child will learn the boundaries that have been set and be more likely to stop the unwanted behavior. This will teach the child to respect authority which will help the child to make good decisions for the rest of his or her life.. “Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
If parents do not teach their children how to control their behavior while they are young, then society will do it when the children are older, and that is why so many young adults are in prison today. A undisciplined child will cause problems for his or her parents for years to come. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17).
Some parents rely on teachers and the school system to teach their children right from wrong. It is true that teachers can be a positive influence in the lives of their students, and teachers must use discipline to maintain order in the classroom. However, for a child to fully understand that there are consequences to every action, he or she must have consistent discipline at home. A child who is disciplined well at home will not have to be disciplined as much in school as compared to a child who is not given consequences to his or her actions.
According to the U. S. Department of Education’s article entitled “School Climate and Discipline: Know the Data,” 3.5 million students were suspended in-school, 3.45 million students were suspended out of school, and 130,000 students were expelled in the public school system in the 2011-2012 school year. This shows that there is still an issue with a lack of discipline in the home which teaches children to respect themselves and to respect others.
It is vitally important that we teach our children the difference between right and wrong, and discipline is the only way to do this. If a child does not learn to respect his or her parents when they are young, then they will be less likely to respect the laws of society, and most importantly, the laws of God when they are older. May we, as Christian parents, lead our children in the way of the Lord, and teach them to respect all authority, especially the authority of God Almighty!