A child’s personality develops in accordance with a parent’s nurturing style (Durrant, Ensom, and Wingert, 2007). His behavior, traits, and manners, are learned by example from adults that people his world. Ideally, parents only want their children to have good habits and behavior. When a bad or negative behavior or habit is seen, most if not all parents, are quick to render some sort of punishment.
Punishment is often equated with discipline. The idea behind discipline is to teach and explain to children that they should only do what is right, and also stress what not to do and refrain from doing it because it is wrong. Many parents have adopted the concepts of reward and punishment in order to discipline their children. These concepts were introduced by Burrhus Frederic Skinner who believed that human behavior is shaped through positive and negative reinforcement. Indeed, no parent would want to raise a “bad” child; and somehow society has required parents to discipline their children. However, no parent has the right to perform unnecessary punishment such as beating. Otherwise, that would not be discipline anymore, but abuse or torture – which will be very detrimental to the physical, psycho-emotional, and social bearing and development of a child (Durrant, et al., 2007).
Severely punishing a young child produces physical scars which may remain marked for the rest of the child’s lifetime (Durrant, et al., 2007). Slapping or punching a child’s face may break a nose, dislocate a jaw, cut a lip or make an ugly scar on the cheek. Twisting a child’s ears or pinching causes excruciating pain. Hitting a child on any part of the body using a stick, a belt, or anything that can be used to whip up a child produces unforgettable physical scars. Durrant et al (2007) asserts that physical punishment not only engenders risk of physical injury, it also impairs the relationship between the parent and the child. They relate that even at a young age, such punitive behaviors cause children to distance themselves from their parents as opposed to those children who do not experience severe physical punishment (Durrant, et al., 2007).
Being harsh and brutal to young children also causes them to develop negative psycho-emotional traits, characteristics and attitudes. Examples of these include “compromised mental health”, “cognitive and behavioral problems”, develop “aggressive behavior”, and have “impaired reasoning and problem-solving skills” (Durrant, et al., 2007).
According to Durrant, et al. (2007), severe punishment in young children is associated with the development of “depression, unhappiness, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness”. A child may feel very discouraged and demoralized about his or her parents and about life. Confusion may often accompany such feelings as they may not understand the rationale for severe punishments. Their self-esteem may drop. Consequently, they may have a hard time to differentiate right from wrong and feel that everything they will do thereafter will be wrong. This indecisiveness thus leads to extreme unhappiness, anxiety and acute despondency.
Moreover, the likelihood of delinquent behavior is increased with individuals who were severely punished as a child; these individuals also turnout to have impaired social relationships because of antisocial behaviors. Other than that, being severely punished as a child increases the tendency for them to be violent as they become bullies, liars, and ultimately strike back or get revenge from their siblings, parents, peers, and even a future wife and their kids for deep-seated roots of anger and resentment and “not show remorse” (Durrant, et al., 2007).
Severely punishing children is also bad because social values become compromised and twisted. Instead of learning and internalizing what is upright, children begin to develop the opposite and carry these on until they mature. Their values become skewed and corrupted. They may not be able to resist temptation, adopt and act out altruistic behaviors, empathize, and have sound moral judgments (Durrant, et al., 2007).
Another danger in relation to utilizing severe punishments in children is that they develop poor adult judgment and also have “skewed ideas and definitions of violence” (Durrant, et al., 2007). This is because they may develop aggression as they mature and acquire criminal behaviors. This may also lead to abuse of one’s spouse or child. Not only that, the roots of severe punishments in early childhood brings about poor mental health conditions in adulthood, it also leads to “depression, anxiety disorders, and dependence” to either or both prohibited drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, children who have experienced beatings, tying ups, whipping, choking and other forms of severe punishments in early childhood tend to espouse the same forms of parenting technique and therefore increasing the likelihood of continuing the cycle of child maltreatment in the future (Durrant, et al., 2007).
Children still have limited minds. They still do not have a full grasp of the concept of punishment or discipline. It is in the nature of children to still not see the importance of “rules”. When told for instance about not to scatter their toys, they usually do not follow. When being told about what not to do, some children often resent being told so and usually react by crying. Human behavior is complex, hence no single rule, theory, or explanation can account for everything a person feels, and thinks or does. However, basic principles of behavioral psychology were developed to help people understand themselves and others better – especially the young and how they may be brought up right. Resorting to severe punishment in young children therefore is not the key to good parenting and childrearing. Rather, using appropriate parenting styles can manage and bring about suitable behaviors in children and develop in them a personality that is confident even as they continue to learn from their environment.