Corporal punishment is the intentional use of physical force to cause
bodily pain or discomfort as a penalty for unacceptable behaviour. Corporal
punishment includes any action that produces discomfort, such as:
Corporal punishment is not an effective method of managing behaviour. It does not teach a child how to act properly. At
best, corporal punishment has only a temporary effect on behaviour. And it may
even make it worse. Not only does it reinforce some problem behaviour, but also it
teaches a child that physical force is the way to resolve conflict.
Corporal punishment can also have emotional and psychological
effects, both short- and long-term, such as:
Studies have shown that children who are physically punished are more likely to be physically aggressive with others.1
There are lots of other ways to discipline your child. Effective alternatives to corporal punishment depend on the age of your child and include:
Research has shown that positive reinforcement is more effective than corporal punishment. Catch your child doing
something right and praise him or her. Don't wait until your child has done
something wrong to notice his or her behaviour.
Durrant J (2012). Physical punishment of children: Lessons from 20 years of research. Canadian Medical Association Journal, v184(12): 1373–1377. Also available online: http://www.cmaj.ca.
April 26, 2013
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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