Discipline Using Physical Contact (that is NOT Corporal Punishment)
Corporal punishment refers to use of physical pain to punish and change a person’s behavior. Corporal punishment is considered in great detail in the very next section. In this section, we consider discipline involving use of physical contact that does not elevate to the level of corporal punishment. Throughout history parents have freely used corporal punishment with their children, but in the United States there was a “cultural revolution” of sorts that began in the 1960’s. Specifically, peace, love, rehabilitation, and nurturance were advocated over “punishment.” Now, on the surface, that sounds great. But there was an unintended consequence because as “experts” across the landscape called for kindness in parenting, there was an implied assumption that physicality in any form was not to be used. We lost the ability to make crucial distinctions between:
- Physical Contact (which is often necessary in parenting to keep our kids safe and to gain compliance in certain situations)
- Corporal Punishment (which has conflicting short-term and long-term results – details follow in the next section)
- Physical Abuse (which is illegal and should obviously never be used)
Parents use physical contact to show affection toward their children (e.g., hugs, kisses, high-fives, cuddles, pats on the head). If I had an accident and became quadriplegic, I would still love my children, but the physical aspects of affection would be sorely missed. Surely, physical contact enhances and makes more powerful our expression of love with our children. Thus, by logical extension, doesn’t physical contact enhance and make more powerful our expression of discipline with our children? Of course it does. Physical contact is not corporal punishment, nor is it physical abuse. Remaining calm and in control while carrying your child against his will to clear the way off of the escalator is an expression of discipline that is enhanced through use of physical contact. Use of hand-over-hand guidance to gain compliance when your child boldly defies is yet another expression of discipline that is enhanced through use of physical contact. And, interestingly, it could be argued that these are simultaneously expressions of both discipline and love that are enhanced through use of physical contact.