Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 22 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Ndoc Suma
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

How to discipline without using corporal punishment

SCOLDING

Shutterstock

Mathilde De Robien - published on 12/21/18

If we want our kids to grow up with self-control, we have to grow up first.

Spanking has been a controversial topic in the realm of parenting for some time. Is physical punishment ever justified? What are appropriate measures when it comes to discipline? Reflecting on the foundation and purpose of parental authority as well as on virtues necessary for all educators can shed light on these questions.

Authority, related to the Latin augere (to augment or grow), is meant to foster growth. People in authority ought to use their power to nurture the development of those in their care. Authority is legitimate in the measure in which it seeks to guide children towards independence.

Fr. Yannik Bonnet, a father of seven who became a priest after his wife died, has reflected deeply on the great challenge of education. Fr. Bonnet suggests that authority should serve the person being educated. The purpose of education is to allow the student or child to find joy and meaning in life. If the exercise of authority is informed by a desire to help someone grow, live in society, and build a happy life, it will yield positive results. Authority, in this case, is a service rendered to the person being governed. It is an expression of love.

Cultivating fortitude and temperance

In real life, when you’re at the end of your rope, exhausted and exasperated by a raging child, the temptation to resort to corporal punishment can be strong. First of all, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently published new guidelines, explaining that corporal punishment in the home is counterproductive. But in addition to that, Fr. Bonnet insists on the necessity of educating ourselves in order to educate our children. We need to deeply assimilate our principles and values in order to act on them in the most challenging moments. We raise our children but they also raise us, and require us to overcome ourselves daily.

The cardinal virtues of justice, fortitude, prudence, and temperance are essential for parents. Fortitude is particularly useful in resisting the urge to use force with children. Certain crises, from toddlerhood to adolescence, demand of parents a veritable moral fortitude to stand firm without losing our cool. It’s also important to model temperance, or mastery of passions. How can we help children direct their emotions and overcome compulsions if we don’t lead by example?

Handling temper tantrums

Some parents use spanking as a last resort when a child won’t respond to any other means of discipline. It’s worth noting, however, that spanking in a heated moment sometimes escalates the situation, and (as mentioned above) has been shown to be detrimental in the long term. It may be more effective to take a step back from the child and put some distance between you. This gives both parties a chance to release their anger. Parents model a healthy response to anger when they can name it and release it. A parent might say, “We’re both upset right now. Let’s take a few minutes apart and then talk about this when we’re calm.”

This attitude recognizes the child’s need to feel anger and allow it to pass through her body. It also shows her that she has a choice: to hold onto the anger or to let it go. Teaching children to navigate difficult feelings gives them agency and enables them to choose growth. It’s not about being perfect, but instead helping kids to understand how their brains, bodies, and emotions work. When they’re taught this way from a young age, kids will know they’re made to grow and to be happy. They’ll also understand that happiness doesn’t fall from the sky: it’s made intentionally, through decisions of a will informed by true freedom.




Read more:
Why I Don’t Spank My Children Anymore


UPSET CHILD

Read more:
Here’s a great technique to teach your kids to regulate their emotions

Tags:
ChildrenParenting
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
KIDS,WATERMELON,BEACH
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
3
HEART OF JESUS
Bret Thoman, OFS
“Jesus, you take care of it”: Prayer of a priest Padr...
4
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
6
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
7
ANXIETY
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for anxiety
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.