In Tanzania, the rates of corporal punishment as a tool to manage children’s misconduct is still high. This article is hinged on the conversation we had with Dr. Nkuba Mabula (PhD), a researcher from the University of Dar es salaam College of Education, whose work scrutinizes the use of corporal punishment in managing children’s misbehavior.
In his study, Dar Mabula talks about the myths linked to corporal punishment which are highly believed by many parents. Some of his findings indicate that many parents claim that corporal punishment teaches good behavior, teaches values, promote self-control, enhance good behavior through inducement of pain torture and unpleasant acts, builds self-esteem, and produces self-regulated children.
But Dr. Nkuba refutes the myths saying scientific studies indicate that corporal punishment tends to stop undesirable behaviors for only a short period of time but fails to give out the proper ways that will help a child on becoming a better person, long term. And that these punishments build barriers and hatred between parents and their children.
It’s of no doubt that values are internalized, one cannot learn what’s good or bad from pain, violence, or harsh treatment but it clearly tends create fear and dishonesty among children. Children in the course of time develop sneaky behaviors and at the same time they tend to have poor self-management and pro-social skills.
The illusion that a child obtain good behavior through corporal punishment does not hold water – it only is an image for parents to see that tends to perish with time. They only have short term compliance which is far from good behavior. Plus, corporal punishment supplies parents with desired anger fulfilment and some sort of ‘revenge.’ It denies your child an opportunity to express himself non-violently when angry, because you cannot control your anger.
Most parents do not realize that good behavior develops through effective yet consistent use of compliments and encouragements especially when a child behaves according to our expectations.
In summing up, Dr Mabula added that majority of parents who believe in corporal punishment have indicated that using corporal punishment saves time and an attempt to use any other approach would require much time, effort and energy which they do not have. However, the reality is that administering corporal punishment frequently might be seen as time saver but practiced over-time, it tends to become a full time activity because children will always keep on repeating the same mistakes.
While the use of non-corporal discipline methods might consume time and energy, gradually the child learns a proper behavior patern that lasts for a long period of time yet keeps the chances of repeating the mistakes at minimal.
Key to non-violent discipline is speaking to your child over the mistake. Children who speak with parents feel confident both in the classroom and on the playground. Dr. Mabula says you can encourage your child to feel comfortable speaking in many different mistakes / situations and with different types of people by focusing on speaking skills at home, as soon as they begin developing some form of speech. This way, a lot of disciplining will transpire while growing your relationship. A child, is a project. Invest time!
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