Dr. Henry Paul, MD

Psychiatrist, Author and Educator


September 20th, 2014

The sad story this week that surrounds NFL player Adrian Peterson has reignited the ongoing debate over whether-or-not to spank your children.
I believe that children should never be spanked. They should not be pushed, slapped, grabbed, shoved or hit period. Why? Because it teaches violence. It gives the message that violence is a valid way to communicate. It causes fear, shame and helplessness. Children who are often spanked develop anxiety or depression later on, and spanking a child can also easily lead to severe injury and even death by accident.

The problem is that most parents only have the model of discipline that was meted out to them as children and teens. Such says Peterson about using a tree branch as a “switch” to punish his four-year-old son. There really is no good that can come from spanking or hitting your child. What is important is to understand the proper methods for disciplining children both young children and teenagers. I raised two children of my own, so I not only speak as a medical professional but as a parent.

Unfortunately, parents often confuse discipline for punishment. The goal of disciplining children is not to punish them, but with a young child it is to help them learn good behaviors. Bad behavior for children between the ages of two and six is expected, so the discipline is different from how you might discipline your tween or teen. With teenagers and older children, you want to guide them toward the development of responsibility, morals, and ethics.

One of the reasons that parents are so anxious about discipline is because of the conflicting messages that society sends to both parents and children, particularly teenagers, about what appropriate discipline ought to be. The clear message to take away from the Adrian Peterson case is that corporal punishment is not discipline and is never acceptable. NEVER!

Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.

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