There must be a concern for the negative effects of physical punishment of children’s undesirable behavior. One main concern is that abusive parenting is a model that children adopt an acceptable method of parenting their own children. There is certainly a correlation between children who have been subject to harsh physical punishment and children who grow up to be abusive adults. Also, modeling violent behavior for children strains relationships they have with others. It is generally seen that children raised with violent punishment are more violent in thee relationships with others. They are classically conditioned to see fear as a source of pain and know that this can be used to benefit them, as they have seen their parents use it. This is a side effect of classical conditioning of fear. There are many other negative side effects of physical punishment in children as well.
It has also been shown that physical punishment is not always a result of children’s undesirable behavior. Moreover, it is the result of extraneous pressures on the parent. It has been shown that financial problems, unemployment, and stress are all directly related to child abuse. This displacement of aggression from the appropriate source is particularly destructive because it is conditioning without a prompt to act on. When a child is continually punished for doing nothing wrong, punishment carries no real weight. When the child does begin to show undesirable behavior, it will then be unpreventable by means of physical punishment. All the child has been conditioned to fear is their parents. Displacement can also occur in the victim of the punishment. The child cannot strike back at its parent, so to displace anger; the child may lash out at siblings, teachers, coaches or others who do not threaten physical punishment in return.
Since physical punishment is so ineffective and has so many negative side effects, positive reinforcement is the clear choice in modeling behavior. Positive reinforcement is when positive decisions and actions of children are rewarded, and negative actions, by and large, are ignored. Positive reinforcement makes it clear to the child when they are exhibiting proper behavior and, ergo, is more effective in changing behavior. Ignoring negative behavior can be effective as long as there are no outside positive forces (i.e. friends,) that are instigating the behavior.
People like to be positively reinforced for their actions, and if they are not, their unendorsed behavior will end. When undesirable behavior is performed intentionally, it is usually for attention or reinforcement. When no outside authority positively responds to the actions, they will soon end. This process of extinction will inevitably dissolve undesirably behavior, while positive reinforcement will continue to encourage desirable behaviors. This leads to more effective, safe, and healthy parenting and behavior modification.