Corporal punishment has been a hotly debated topic, especially during the last few decades. Since it is not difficult to raise a fine human being without it, common sense wins out.
First, spanking a child teaches him that violence is acceptable. Even worse, it teaches him that violence is an acceptable response to anger, or to not getting one’s own way. One should not be surprised if the child ends up carrying that message with him into his adult life.
Second, resorting to this tactic teaches a child that self-control is not necessary. Whether you believe you are exercising self-control or not, when you hit a child he will believe that you are not, and the way he sees it is what is important in the long-run.
Third, spanking children teaches children that there is no need for more constructive solutions. Instead of finding constructive solutions which benefit everyone concerned, the only one who benefits from corporal punishment is the parent. Even if the parent believes that it resolves the problem or the misbehavior, the only one whom it is actually resolved for is the parent.
If all of these reasons to avoid corporal punishment are not enough, there is another reason which tops all of the others. Frequent corporal punishment stands in the way of a child developing a true conscience. He will not be good because he wants to be good, nor will he do the right thing because he should, but generally only choose these options in order to avoid punishment. The child who is spanked on a regular basis may become overly timid, terrified of making a mistake, or he may become rebellious and focus on how much he thinks he can get away with. Whichever one of these directions his individual personality leads him to follow, neither include a conscience-based concept of right vs. wrong.
Children are impressionable little human beings. Whether a child is four or fourteen, he is absorbing everything his parent does, especially when it comes to the way his parent treats him. He is processing each and every action on a child’s level of interpretation. When a parent’s actions come to a child as “hit when angry,” “might makes right,” “get your own way at someone else’s expense,” and other similar messages, it can be very damaging. If it is extreme enough, it can be permanently damaging. It can color the way he views himself, and the way he interacts with other people.
If you want your child to grow up with a healthy outlook and solid character, avoid resorting to corporal punishment. If you want your child to develop a solid conscience, help him to begin developing it as early in life as possible. It is not impossible to impress upon a child that he should be good solely for the sake of being good, or do the right thing solely for the sake of doing the right thing. The only catch is that he cannot learn these things if corporal punishment is a routine part of his childhood life.