Corporal Punishment

Updated on July 18, 2011
K. asks from Chicago, IL
22 answers

My 9 year old son has been having behavior issues at school. He has been suspended several times for acting out and being mean and/or physical with other students. We have tried everything except corporal punishment. It's a philosophical difference between my husband and me. He believes it would help "straighten" him out and I believe it sends the message of "might equals right" and that violence can be used to correct behavior.

I am looking for help. If you have examples of where corporal punishment worked and why, please forward them. If you have examples of how it hurt, please forward those. Most importantly, if you have had success with changing your child's behavior, please let me know what worked for you.

Many Thanks.

3 moms found this helpful

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

corporal never works. it causes the child to respond to violence which brgets more violance. we were beat as children. one of us grew up to be a drug abusing addict, one had 4 nervous breakdowns, and I fall apart at the drop of a pin; an emotional wreck. others may grow up being scared of the sound of a yelling voice or threat of violent actions. you're right mom. watch supernanny tonight on a.b.c. she always has the right answer for children of all ages. my kids are raised and I watch the show religously just for personal information.

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

Please NO violence (corporal) -- you will only have more problems... try Dr. Weissbluth ###-###-####) he is a GENIUS!!!!! Sleep, nutrition, good role modeling and positive reinforcement...

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A.M.

answers from Chicago on

Corporal punishment never really works. It says that it is okay to hit people when you feel you are justified doing it. Good books to read are "Smart Love" by Martha Heineman Pieper and William Pieper and "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Cohen. Also, if he has severe behavior problems, then family counseling is probably a good option. Smart Love Family Services in Oak Park and Chicago are great with children who are having such problems. The issue here is why is your son acting out? What is the root problem? It isn't enough to beat the behavior out of him. The question is why does he feel the need to act this way? Violence at home will only get more violence out of the home. Good Luck.

3 moms found this helpful
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B.G.

answers from Chicago on

two MUST read books, How to Really Love your Child and How to Really Love your Angry Child (be sure to start with the first) by Ross Campbell MD, (I promise it will change your lives forever!)

2 moms found this helpful
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J.Z.

answers from Chicago on

The book (or DVD) MAGIC 1,2,3 by Thomas Phelan is a book we have used as parents, and I know several teachers that have used the method in their classrooms for problem behavior. My husband and I have also taken a "LOVE AND LOGIC" parenting class which is a wonderful menthod for encouraging your child to act responsibly and make good choices while teaching discipline. You can read about it at www.loveandlogic.com. Best of luck. J.

2 moms found this helpful
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K.B.

answers from Chicago on

We use the Smart Discipline technique in our home. You can get the book at the library. It uses a chart with privileges taken away when rules aren't followed. Some privileges that we take away are treats, friends, tv, computer, phone, bike/scooter. Seems to work. At first my kids didn't seem to care about losing things. That soon changed when they would lose everything and be bored. We have a saying that we don't reward good behavior, we expect it. That way, it makes sense when they lose stuff when they break the rules. Try it- just might work for you too! This program seems so simple but you need to be consistent and not show emotion and that is hard!! Keep in mind, their choices/their consequences. The book is also a very easy read and the author/Dr. has five kids of his own and can relate. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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H.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hello! I highly recommend this book:
Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days by Kevin Leman.
He will talk directly to your situation. He has five grown children of his own and is also a child psychologist. I have just heard amazing things about his work. I have a baby, but my husband teaches 9 year olds and his techniques work amazing in his classroom. The main thing is that there are natural consequences to your behavior, so the child then begins to choose different behaviors. This gets amazing results with helping you know how to discipline and interact with him without any corporal punishment and teaches him to make his own good decisions. Hey for the price of a book and a little reading time it is worth checking it out. There is also a section at the back with tons of situations and ideas, plus Kevin Leman is a very entertaining person and writes the same way. So it is not boring at all. Hope this helps.
H.

1 mom found this helpful
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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

I believe you need to enlist the aid of a family counselor or some kind of therapist/doctor to get at the root of your son's problem. Until you do that, I don't think things will resolve. There are no "magic bullet" solutions for behavior consistently beyond what most people would consider beyond just "normal" misbehavior. I have high school, middle school and younger kids and I can tell you that many many parents have been pushed to their limit and finally got the medical professionals involved and they are so grateful they did. Yes, it may include medication, but it may not. Just know that altho people don't talk about this a lot - many many families have found relief following this route. Your pediatrician can recommend a family therapist as a starting point. Don't be afraid to "shop around" and find someone who everyone is comfortable with. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful
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K.Z.

answers from Chicago on

As a previous school social worker and a current stay at home mom I agree with everyone else. Corporal punishment will not help him. It would be great if he would talk to you but I would also seek a counselor of some sort to talk to him. Keep in mind that this will take a while. It won't change over night. Sometimes the school social worker or psych has time but for the most it might be good to do both at school and out. Ask them to speak to eachother as well. Getting everyone involved should quicken the process. Hopefully you are able to figure out these behaviors. In the mean time I would suggest some positive reinforcement when he even does the slightest good thing. That may help him feel closer and more comfortable with you so that he may open up to you too.

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L.S.

answers from Chicago on

As I look around at the condition of the world I see that we have learned that violence begets more violence. Same with out "correctional" systems that think harsh environments will somehow reform humans that have lived in violence all their lives.

I agree that violence has a source (in the world a lot of it comes from poverty + inequality) and this is part of the human condition.

So I also recommend talking to your son and asking him if all is OK, what does he need, what does he feel? Why does HE think he is doing what he does? Is he being bullied or affected? Is he watching too much violence from TV or others?

and of course seeking good counseling before diagnosing a "syndrome" and medicating.

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S.P.

answers from Chicago on

As someone who was disciplined with spankings with a yardstick all through my childhood, I would urge you to avoid corporal punishment at all costs! It only created terror and anger and resentment in me and my 4 siblings. It actually ENCOURAGED me to be more sneaky about my misdeeds! I would have responded so much better to an earnest, loving talk about how disappointed my parents were with my behavior, and being asked to discuss the reasons for my acting out. I know my parents were doing what they thought was best, but when we all sit around nowadays and discuss the "spanking stick" they cringe with regret.

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K.R.

answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,

One of my children was a serious parenting challenge. Between my 4 children we have tried everything (including corporal punishment). Although I do think that it can work for the right offense (like running into the street), I don't think it works when a child is acting aggressively. It just treats aggression with aggression. We tried it for that very offense and it merely backfired. When my son's behavior was out of control I talked my husband into going to a child psychologist with me. It was the best thing I have ever done as a parent, and my husband wishes we had gone sooner. I learned so much practical advice that has benefited all my children. She met with my son only once and met with myself and/or my husband on a regular basis for almost a year. We started with a weekly meeting then scaled down to every other week and then met once a month. Eventually, we all felt that the situation was under control and we were done with "parenting classes." My son is a different child and we have a new and wonderful relationship with each other. He is doing great at school and we are all happier for it! I am still sad that I wasted years of being angry and disappointed in my son and frustrated with my failed attempts to make him a better behaved child. I cannot get those years back. Do not wait another minute! Go and get help and if your husband is unwilling to join you or thinks it is a waste of time or money, then go by yourself. The only reason I did not go sooner (I had the therapist's number in my wallet for two years) was because my husband thought it meant that we were not good parents and he did not want my son to feel bad that he needed outside help. To this day, my son has no idea how we managed to change things around. It was a slow process but now when he starts to misbehave, we have the tools to cope and resolve the issue. If you don't know of a good therapist in your area, ask your child's doctor. They usually have a great list of qualified people to help you. He or She may also be able to direct you to a specific therapist that will have the best personality and qualifications to meet your needs and your son's needs. If you cannot afford regular therapy, go as often as you can. We noticed an improvement after two sessions. Be honest with the therapist about your financial situation and ask for reading material that can help you. We had reading material after every session that I still go back to if I need it. He or She may also have some books they can suggest for you. Hang in there and get help! Your son needs it and so do you.
Good Luck! K (proud mother of 4)

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K.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi - sorry you are going through a tough time. You are getting great and consistent advice from all the other moms. Kids usually exhibit this behavior and act out for a reason

1. Consult pediatrician, school psychologist or a family counselor.
2. Learn how to talk to your child in a way they feel safe and not judged ("Talk so Kids will listen and Listen so kids will talk" Author: Faber is OUTSTANDING)
3. Don't hit - aggression begets aggression
4. You are not alone in disagreeing with your husband OR having a child going through a rough spot. THis is why it's the toughest job in the world

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J.

answers from Chicago on

When you say you have tried everything, have you tried having him assessed for behavioral issues? One of my nephews was pretty aggressive in school and has had an amazing turnaround since being properly diagnosed and treated with medication (for ADHD, which is not usually aggressive, but for him it was.)

I don't see the logic of teaching people not to hit others by hitting them. I think an authoritarian parenting style can probably be helpful for some kids by setting tight limits and limiting choices, keeping their lives very organized, but I don't think you can become automatically good at being one of those parents by just adding spanking to the repertoire. Also, I think your son's a little old for starting that. He will be taller than you in a couple of years, don't forget.

Talk to your pediatrician and contact a behavioral specialist. You may be able to get a referral from your school.

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L.W.

answers from Chicago on

You have great advice here, and I have just a couple of things to add. From your posting, it sounds like your son is not rebelling against authority, right? Your husband is thinking that your son needs to learn who's boss, that he needs firmer punishment. It sounds to me like he's having some challenging situations with his peers (maybe wants them to like him, or is searching for his identity: smart kid, artist, class clown, bully, etc.) and may not have the emotional or verbal skills to handle himself, so he resorts to being physical the way my 4 year old might. Even negative attention is still attention! I don't know what you've tried that has not worked and I'm sure you're completely frustrated. I'll bet it's exhausting! Do get your son assessed by a pediatrician and behavioral specialist to be sure there are no medicall issues if you haven't already done that. Is there a counselor at his school that you could help you? Gather testimonials from people as you're doing here and do some internet research to back up your point when you sit down with your husband to discuss what route to go. You need each other's partnership and support if you're going to help your son. And communicate what you decide to your son's teacher and principal so they know what changes your son may be experiencing and can help reinforce what you're doing. Good luck-- we're all rooting for you!

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N.O.

answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,

Kim and Jen both give great advice....it sounds like there's something more going on than just a kid acting up that needs punishment. I would have him assessed/meet with a counselor and try to get to the root of the issues causing the behavior. I also love the suggestion of taking away privileges. Every kid has a currency - whatever his is can be used as leverage while you're trying to figure out what's going on. I wish you luck and strength. I still "live in a bubble" with my 2 and 4 year olds and know this type of stuff is coming my way sooner than later - good luck!

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M.L.

answers from Chicago on

I'm sorry about the challenges you are facing. It sounds like the school should be involved and supporting you and your son. If they are suspending a 9 year old, the social worker and/or psychologist should be involved. It seems as though there is something more going on than a spanking would cure. Though I believe there are times when a spanking isn't out of line, with his aggression, it just may add fuel to the fire. I would seek the professional help of a therapist. You would take him in if he was physically ill, we need to seek help when our kids are in need emotionally, as well.
Good luck.

MAL

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W.P.

answers from Chicago on

I think most of the parents here have hit the nail on the head. There is more involved here then meets the eye and also more at stake. Suddenly introducing physical punishment to your son is not going to solve any problems and it may very well make the situation worse. When he is all grown up do you want him to remember that his parents starting beating him because he was going through a difficult time with his behavior etc.? You need professional help. Whether or not your husband agrees do it. Men sometimes reject the notion of therapy or whatever but do it anyway. You will not be sorry. Whatever happens you will have the advice of a professional and you will start to get to the bottom of the problem. Kids don't act out for no reason. Good luck to you and keep the faith.

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B.Q.

answers from Sacramento on

I used 1 2 3 magic. it works for my kids. I also take t.v away,video games away. No junk food sweet or treat for a week. If things are real bad.

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P.B.

answers from Atlanta on

I have raised four sons; this year they will celebrate years of birth from 35-29 years old. I made mistakes but they turned out for the most part okay. They were all different. I am also a special education teacher. Before becoming a teacher I worked with families dealing with violence. Then as a teacher I had children assigned to my class from other schools who displayed behavior issues other schools had reached their ends of working with them. Think about purchasing An Essential Practical Guide to Family Living from www.destroyingyokes.com there are helpful suggestions that may guide you through this period of time with your son. If I can be of any further help send me a private message or email me directly at [email protected]____.com But the book is full of helpful information addressing self esteem, parenting, relationship issues, marital issues, individual uniques in our children and spouses and on and on. Peace to you and your family and in your home.

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B.B.

answers from Chicago on

The timing of your message is interesting since I was just saying to myself that its hard to believe that just a year and a half ago I had to take my son to a therapist for anger control issues. He has been totally fine ever since. He only had a few appointments, but I think the best advice the therapist gave me was to give my son melatonin 30 minutes or so before bedtime. Turns out he was having so much trouble falling asleep at night that he wasn't getting a good nights sleep. It really is amazing how much this affects a childs attitude. Melatonin is perfectly safe to give to kids. Ask him if he has trouble sleeping. Gosh, wouldn't it be great if this is the problem! So easy to solve.

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E.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

If he is being suspended for being mean and acting out physically with other kids, how will it "straighten him out" to be mean and physically violent with him? I would look for a social worker to help get to the root of his anger and violence before I would start serious/physical punishment with him. He's only 9. Don't let your husband hit him.

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