Discipline is more than just punishing children as it involves targeting unwanted behavior while it is part of an overall learning process that also requires reinforcing healthy behavior. The training technique best known to people is positive punishment as it simply requires a person to respond by applying an aversive stimulus. One such example of positive punishment is spanking a child. Spanking can momentarily stop a child from misbehaving; however, its long term effectiveness and side effects, along with the ease of misusing spanking, makes it a highly inefficient and discouraged disciplinary measure.
For a disciplinary action to correlate with the unacceptable behavior, a child must connect the behavior with the discipline, which means the discipline must occur directly after the undesired behavior occurs; otherwise, the punishment is either ineffective or punishing the child for letting the parents find out about the behavior. Spanking generally occurs long after an incident of misbehavior and, if it was not delivered properly, the child is not punished for the poor behavior. After another incident of misbehavior occurs, a spanking is applied again. Spanking again stops the child from engaging in whatever behavior the parent disapproves of, but over time, spanking becomes less effective, so the parent hits harder and harder.
Furthermore, every time the parent hits their child, he or she stops an unwanted behavior, so the parent gets into the habit of hitting the child anytime the child does something the parent does not like. This is how child abuse arises. In schools, spanking has been allowed if the teacher is supervised and it occurs away from public view. This, of course, removes the discipline from the behavior. Meanwhile, children learn to resolve their issues with other children by engaging in acts of violence. In addition, they learn to resent their discipliner.
If a parent must punish their children, children should to be negatively punished by having stimuli removed until they no longer engage in misbehavior. For example, if a child cannot stop misbehaving then removing video games, toys, or treats works to bring the consequences of their behavior to their direct attention. Another means of punishing, which is extraordinarily beneficial, is to remove their freedom to misbehave through time-outs as these tools act as a negative punishments while they give children time to cool down.
Moreover, children need to have good behavior encouraged and rewarded more than they need punished. People often mistake reinforcing methods as not working because it takes longer to shape someone’s behavior; whereas, punishment is immediate. Parents also have a tendency of improperly using quality disciplinary techniques, so this leads them to believe spanking is more effective. Reinforcement training is more effective, because it does not create resentment or teach children to respond in negative ways, thus it is should be the preferred teaching method of parents.