As a parent our first duty is to shield our children from overt injury as best we can without being over-bearing and smothering. I wouldn’t let my toddler play in a street with passing cars or play with knives. However I will not spank them for doing so. The fact that they do such things is more the parent’s fault than the child’s fault. Inflicting artificial pain only teaches them to use violence to solve their problems. If they are too young to reason, spanking them makes no sense as they cannot yet determine cause and effect. If they are old enough to reason then spanking is lazy parenting as it is resorting to violence when reasoning and calmly explaining things would be much more effective. Indeed how do you expect your child to begin reasoning if you demonstrate your lack of reasoning with them?
It is also not necessary and quite counter-productive to spank or yell at one’s child after they have fallen, scraped themselves, or otherwise hurt themselves. They have already felt the natural consequences of their actions i.e. pain. Adding additional artificial pain on top of that will not further solidify this lesson. On the contrary it will only teach them to not run to you for comfort in these moments of pain for you are teaching them that it will be conspicuously absent when they do. If they cannot run to you for comfort and reassurance then who can they run to? This is the origin of social anxiety and awkwardness to show affection or weakness. Embody the loving, caring, patient, and understanding human being you wish them to become!
There is also ample research that indicates corporal punishment lowers IQ and increases the likelihood of true crime and incarceration later in life. Violence only begets more violence. As peaceful parents we must break the cycle of violence! Propagating harmful practices because they have always been done is to employ the spinal cord and base reptilian brain instead of the neofrontal cortex that has been the proud inheritance of our ancestors. Always strive to improve on the societal and cultural mistakes of the past. Our grandchildren will be most grateful for our efforts.
A child whose life is full of the threat and fear of punishment is locked into babyhood. There is no way for him to grow up, to learn to take responsibility for his life and acts. Most important of all, we should not assume that having to yield to the threat of our superior force is good for the child’s character. It is never good for anyone’s character.