Harsh Punishment is a "no-no"

Harsh Punishment in Early Childhood

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What is harsh punishment

Harsh Punishment is also known as corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is any deliberate action that inflicts pain on to the child. The punishment can be brought about with an open hand or with any kind of object.

The following are considered harsh punishments:

  • Yelling
  • Slapping
  • Spanking
  • Hitting

Some different objects used in harsh punishments:

  • Belt
  • Switch
  • Hockey stick
  • Open hands


The Effects of Harsh Punishment

As a parent, one should know that any kind of slapping, hitting or aggressive punishment is ineffective. Harsh physical punishment does not warrant long term behavioral changes. Children who are constantly exposed to harsh physical punishment are more likely to develop mental health problems. Harsh punishment may lead to even greater negative effects for children with low emotional knowledge.

Mental health problems associated with harsh punishment:


  • hard time understand rules
  • depression
  • aggression
  • lashing out
  • antisocial
  • poor performance in school and grades

It can also lead to problems later in life such as criminal behavior and substance abuse


Think about it: spanking a child for aggressive behavior is modeling the child's aggression.


Alternatives to Harsh Punishment

Time out: time outs remove the child from the immediate setting. When a child gets out of control, removing the child from the scene, and allowing them to cool down, can help change the child's behavior and attitude. Time out not only helps the child but also the parent. Time out allows for the parent to calm down and assess the situation.


Another successful tactic is withdrawal. Withdrawal means to take away some of the child's privileges such as tv and computer time. This tactic helps avoid harsh punishment, yet is still effective.

Consistency is key. If a parent allows the child to misbehave and the child is only reprimanded occasionally the child becomes confused and will continue to misbehave.

Explanations help as well. By explaining the punishment to the child, the child will understand his or her parents' expectations. Explanations lead to less "bad behaviors."