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Is the punishment of a child evil or necessary?


The other day, I received this question by e-mail:

Good afternoon!

I carefully read your letters and want to express my gratitude for useful and essential information. True, in recent times, for some reason, there have been few letters ((

I am interested in your attitude to the punishment of children. Is the punishment of a child evil or necessary? Now many parents and psychologists oppose them. And what position do you hold?

Thank you for your reply!


Hello Irina!

Thank you for your warm response to my newsletter and letters.

I adhere to a complicated position in this question.
The topic of punishment is very individual for each case, and it is difficult to make it universal if we do not take into account the child’s personality, his age, the circumstances of the incident and his family.

What is punishment? In essence, this is an action aimed at stopping the undesirable behavior of the perpetrator.
So that the next time he, remembering the punishment, could resist repeating and draw the right conclusions.

There are two main types of punishments: physical (whipping, spanking, acute withdrawal) and psychological (disapproval, indignation, verbal condemnation, conviction, etc.).

From these many basic variations are obtained.

But what is essential to know:

If the punishment is committed by a person who does not love and does not respect the child, it turns into violence
(physical or psychological, it does not matter, the essence is the same).
The child feels pain, fear, humiliation. Then these feelings are replaced by anger, anger, and desire for revenge. Such a child, as a rule, forgets about the wrongdoing and the punishment does not reach its original purpose. The deed is not realized, and there is no desire to act kindly.

If the punishment is committed by a person who loves a child, but at the very moment of discipline, this adult has lost control of himself and has broken, it also does not reach the goal. And the child understands that the adult has just appeared powerless before him and has lost his authority. Confidence in such an adult tends to zero. And where there is no trust, there is no deep relationship. There is no incentive to change for the better.

Punishment should not cause physical and mental injury to a child. In this case, it merely turns into a tool of torturing a defenseless, weak child in the hands of a merciless adult. A belt or a massive arm, leaving red marks for a long time and purple stripes on the child’s body, and subsequently, bruises, are simply unacceptable. Similarly, with constant moral humiliation with hurtful words: you are not my son / not my daughter, you are a fool, you are stupid, crazy, you will be taken by the police uncle, you have a nuthouse/prison crying and the like. All this destroys the relationship of the child with his parents, puts him in the position of rejected and unworthy love. Often this leads to inner bitterness, self-destruction of a person (I am wrong, and I can’t be good), self-torture (self-aggression, ie, aggression directed at myself, can also appear).

Punishment should not cause physical and mental injury to a child.
Little child boy wall corner punishment standing

As a result, the child really becomes uncontrollable, as if confirming the opinion of his relatives about him, he begins to fear and hate cruel parents.

What in the end can happen after such punishments?

Already in its essence, such a punishment loses its meaning, because it has not reached the crucial goal of reorienting the child to good deeds. To help understand your mistake and engender the desire to correct it. And if so, then instead of the desired benefits, it causes irreparable harm to the child’s soul.

Someone may object: in ancient times, they always punished, some with rods, some with a stick, others with something worse. And nothing grew decent people.
Many religious people who are superficially familiar with the basics of faith often cite as an example the biblical verse: He who pities the rod hates his son (Proverbs 13:25). But the same people forget about another verse from the same Bible: And you, fathers, do not irritate your children, but bring them up in the teaching and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6: 4).

Thus, the punishment is sufficient only when it comes from a loving and authoritative parent, does not cause physical and psychological harm, and the guilty person understands well what he is being punished for and considers it fair.

There are situations when it is impossible to punish and abuse (according to V.Levi):
When a child is sick, is experiencing any ailments or has not yet recovered from an illness: at this time, his psyche is especially vulnerable, and the reactions are unpredictable.
When the baby eats, after sleeping, before bedtime, during play, during work.
Immediately after a physical or mental injury (a fall, a fight, an accident, a bad mark, any failure, even if he himself is to blame for this failure). It is necessary, at least, to wait until the acute pain subsides (but this does not mean that you should immediately rush to console).
When a child does not cope with fear, inattention, laziness, mobility, and any shortcoming, with sincere efforts. When shows inability, awkwardness, nonsense, inexperience. That is, in all those cases, when the child does not do something.

This is a whole if you look at the punishment as an instrument of education.

And the more developed the warm relations between parents and children, the less often adults resort to this tool.

Usually, the grief of a mother or father for children is already an incentive to stop, and therefore, in close-knit, loving and healthy families with strong parental authority, such children have enough confidential one-on-one conversation with their parents to reconsider their behavior.