Every once in a while an article appears singing the praises of punishment and telling us how to do it. ("Explain the punishment ahead of time"... "Punish as promptly as possible"... "Let the punishment fit the crime.") Often to angry, beleaguered parents this kind of advice seems to make good sense. What follows are quotes from a variety of professionals in the mental health field who have another point of view about punishment.Punishment is a very ineffective method of discipline . . . for punishment, strangely enough, often has the effect of teaching the child to behave in exactly the opposite way from the way we want him to behave! Many parents use punishment simply because no one has ever taught them better ways of disciplining their children.
--How to Father, Dr. Fitzhough Dodson, Signet, 1974
The act of disciplining a child can be a frustrating one. However, at the outset it needs to be stressed that discipline means education. Discipline is essentially programmed guidance that helps people to develop internal self-control, self-direction and efficiency. If it is to work, discipline requires mutual respect and trust. On the other hand, punishment requires external control over a person by force and coercion. Punishing agents seldom respect or trust the one punished.
-- "The Case Against Spanking," Brian G. Gilmartin, Ph.D., in Human Behavior, February 1979, Vol.8, No.2
From a review of the literature it is concluded that physical punishment by parents does not inhibit violence and most likely encourages it. Punishment both frustrates the child and gives him a model to imitate and learn from.
--Violence and the Struggle for Existence, Work of the Committee on Violence of the Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Edited by David N. Daniels, M.D., Marshall F. Gilula, M.D., and Frank M. Ochberg, M.D., Little, Brown & Company, 1970
Confused and bewildered parents mistakenly hope that punishment will eventually bring results, without realizing that they are actually getting nowhere with their methods . . . The use of punishment only helps the child to develop a greater power of resistance and defiance.
--Children: The Challenge, Rudolf Dreikurs, M.D., Hawthorn, 1964
There are a number of other possibilities in learning which spanking provides, none of which are intended by parents. The child may learn how to avoid successfully any guilt feelings for bad behavior by setting up a cycle in which the punishment cancels the "crime" and the child, having paid for his mischief, is free to repeat the act another time without attendant guilt feelings . . . The child who does everything possible to provoke a spanking is a child who is carrying a secret debt on the "sin" side of the ledger which the parent is invited to wipe out by means of a spanking. A spanking is just what the child does not need!
--The Magic Years, Selma H. Fraiberg, Scribners, 1959
Researchers believe that one in five parents have suffered . . . abuse at the hands of their children, an expression perhaps of the adolescent turmoil that can bubble over: objects lobbed at their heads, shoving, pushing, furious verbal abuse . . . there is "stark evidence" that physical abuse of the parent is actually learned at the knee of the parent.
--Newsday, August 15, 1978