In the course of history, parenting has always been a challenging vocation. Since children are not born with “how to raise” manuals, parents usually have no choice but to figure out things for themselves with regards to rearing their offspring.
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Often, when children become difficult to control, parents resort to corporal punishment. Strauss (2001) defines corporal punishment (CP) as “the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child pain, but not injury, for the purposes of correction or control of the child’s behavior” (p. 4). More often than not, parents use “spanking” as a form of disciplinary action. Mcloyd, Kaplan, Hardaway, and Wood (2007) defines spanking as “striking the child on the buttocks or extremities with an open hand without inflicting physical injury. It is distinguished from physical abuse, which consists of beatings and other forms of extreme physical force that inflict bodily injury.” (p.165 ) Whereas spanking is a normative practice within the United States, physical abuse is not (Baumrind, 1997).
More and more studies are proving that corporal punishment brings more negative effects on children than positive ones, thus, the decrease in its endorsement by child professionals. In its raw form corporal punishment is negative discipline. Robert Block, a pediatrician, comments:
“It is important to point out that negative, and thus inappropriate demeanor, includes yelling, losing one’s temper to the point of rage, or becoming physically out of control. However, being stern is not necessarily negative. It is a stern or firm demeanor that allows a child to understand the importance of what a parent is saying. A stern demeanor helps a child to hear clearly and understand more definitively what the parent expects them to do.” (Block, 2007, p.461).
By stern demeanor, Block means speaking to the child in a firm but gentle voice with the parents’ emotions under control. He advocates this form of discipline because it is more purposeful to both the parent and child, and does not involve physical harm and power struggles.
Over the years, alternative disciplinary strategies have evolved. Nowadays, parents can choose from a plethora of effective disciplinary approaches to apply in rearing their children such as using time-out, logical consequences, withdrawal of privileges, and merely talking heart to heart. Nonetheless, the debate in using corporate punishment goes on. However, the endorsers of corporal punishment seem to be losing out due to the said alternative disciplinary measures being more commonly advocated by child psychologists, educators and pediatric doctors.
It is recommended that parent trainings on alternative discipline techniques that promote positive discipline and clear communication be developed and implemented. The aim of decreasing parents’ use of physical discipline and increasing parents’ repertoire of discipline strategies would truly benefit our children and in learning so, future generations to come.
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The incidences of learning disabilities have increased in recent years. The most common of which is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or its derivative, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity (American Psychological Association. APA. 2000). It is complex syndrome of impairments related to the development of brain cognitive management systems or executive functions. It affects a person’s organization skills, concentration, focus and prolonged attention on a task, processing speed, short-term working memory and access recall, sustained motivation to work and the appropriate management of emotions. Brown’s (2007) article is a report of thorough research done in the field of ADHD. He has enumerated the executive functions of the brain that work together in various combinations as thus:
- Activation – the process of organizing, prioritizing and activating for work
- Focus – focusing, sustaining and shifting attention to tasks
- Effort – regulating alertness and sustaining effort and processing speed
- Emotion – managing frustration and modulating emotions
- Memory – using working memory and accessing recall
- Action – monitoring and self-regulating action.
Recent research on AD/HD gives evidence that it is not a problem of will power but a chronic impairment in the chemistry of the management system of the brain. “Evidence now shows that /DD is a highly heritable disorder, with impairments related to problems in the release and reloading of two crucial neurotransmitter chemicals made in the brain: dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals play a crucial role in facilitating communication within neural networks that orchestrate cognition. “(Brown, 2007).
Certain medications have been manufactured to compensate for the inefficient release and reloading of essential neurotransmitters at countless synaptic connections in the brain. Individuals with the ADHD disorder have experienced remarkable improvement in their functioning when they are treated with appropriate doses of such medications. These medications alleviate symptoms only for the time when the medication is active in the brain, thus helping the individual in most self-management tasks. For children, management of ADHD should not be limited to medication and should be given a combination of interventions. This article enlightens parents that their children afflicted with ADHD may exhibit behavioral problems which should not be attributed to their fault by something they themselves cannot control. This would encourage parents to be more understanding and more patient with their children.
A longitudinal study following the developmental growth of a number of adolescents to study the effects of family influences on their prospective romantic behavior in their early adult life. The authors hypothesized that adolescents who grew up with nurturant-involved parenting grew up to be romantic partners who were warm, supportive and low in hostility. Some studies providing evidence for the link between specific skills in intimate communication (e.g. problem solving, affect regulation, conflict management, etc.) relating to the success or failure in romantic relationships suggest that these skills are influenced by the family of origin. Another hypothesis is that children emulate the interactional behaviors of their parents and exhibit the same with their romantic partners when they grow up.
The methodology of the longitudinal study was videotaping adolescents when they were 12 year olds interacting with their families and friends. Some 7 years later, these subjects were again studied with regards to their ongoing romantic relationships to validate their previous hypotheses. These young adults were likewise observed with their romantic partners and their behaviors were studied.
Findings in the study were consistent with the interpersonal competence hypothesis posted at the beginning of the study that interpersonal behaviors that were high in warmth and low in hostility and linked to experiences in the family origin are positively associated with the quality of romantic relationships.
This study’s credibility was strong due to the following merits: it was prospective and longitudinal, it was based on observed interactional processes instead of perceived behaviors; it included evaluations of a number of different family variables allowing the simultaneous testing of the multiple hypotheses related to family influences and that it included a direct measure of interpersonal competence in romantic relationships as a possible way of transmitting family influences. Lastly, the study directly tested the association between the presumed marker of competence and early adult quality. This study supports the assumption that parents should model warm, close and affectionate relationships to their children, as in the future, the children shall demonstrate the same in their interpersonal relationships.
This article studies moral development in children. Krebs & Denton discusses how Kohlberg (1984) came up with a theory of moral development based on a hypothetical moral situation calling on children’s decision-making skills, and his theories attracted much attention from moral philosophers. His proposed dilemma was about a husband named Heinz who needed to decide whether to steal an overpriced drug to save his dying wife. It was theorized that young children conceptualize morality in terms of obedience to adults’ rules and regulations. They know that it makes them good children. This is so because they think in concrete, physical, egocentric ways and their social worlds are dominated by adults. On the other hand, older children think of morality in terms of cooperation with peers because they are cognitively able to comprehend the views of others and already understand concepts such as reciprocity and cooperation because their social worlds consist mainly of interactions with peers.
Kohlberg based his work on this theory of cognitive development and emphasized reasoning as the key to moral development. He did not pursue any direction towards the role of emotion in the moral decision-making process.
Implications of this study for parents include their need for awareness in their behaviors for children model this and see it as the standard for right and wrong. Setting rules to be obeyed must be morally appropriate, as children would see it as bible truth to be followed.
Baumrind, D. (1997). Necessary distinctions. Psychological Inquiry, 8, 176–229.
Block, R.W. ( 2007) “Parental Discipline of Young Children”, Southern Medical Journal, Volume 100, No. 5.
Brown, T.E. (2007) “New Approach to Attention Deficit Disorder.” Educational Leadership.
Conger, R.D., Cui, M., Bryant, C.M. & Elder, Jr., G.H. “Competence in Early Adult Romantic Relationships: A Developmental Perspective on Family Influences”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000, Vol. 79, No. 2, 224-237
Kohlberg, L. (1984). Essays in moral development: Vol. 2. The Psychology of Moral Development. New York: Harper & Row.
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Krebs, D. L. & Denton, K. (2005), “Toward a More Pragmatic Approach to Morality: A Critical Evaluation of Kohlberg’s Model”, Psychological Review, Vol. 112, No. 3, 629–649.
McLoyd, V.C., Kaplan, R., Hardaway, C.R. and Wood, D. (2007), “Does Endorsement of Physical Discipline Matter? Assessing Moderating Influences on the Maternal and Child Psychological Correlates of Physical Discipline in African American Families” Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 2, 165–175.
Straus, M. A. (2001) “Beating the devil out of them: Physical punishment in American families” (2nd ed.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.