11.3 Discuss punishment as a method of behaviour correction
This involves inflicting physical or psychological pain as a way of expressing disapproval in an attempt to eliminate an undesirable behavior. Punishment could be verbal or physical. The method can be momentarily effective but can provoke anxiety if used habitually. For example, Frequent use of scolding often encourages a child to ignore the parent. It may also reinforce undesirable behaviour as it rewards the child by providing attention. It is particularly ineffective when used on very young children.
Advantages of Punishment
- It saves time. It is administered within a short time and discourages the behaviour immediately.
- Serves as a Vicarious learning. Others who see a child being punished may avoid the behaviour that prompted the response
- Stops the undesirable behaviour immediately but for short term.
- It slows the rate at which children indulge in undesirable behaviour.
Disadvantages of punishment
- It does not indicate what is appropriate. It does not give a child an alternative way of behaving. A child may change the manifested behaviour and indulge in another undesirable bahaviour.
- It portrays wrong modeling effects. The same adult who discourages aggression becomes aggressive.
- It has emotional side effects. It promotes excessive fear and hatred.
- It is embarrassing and dehumanizing. It causes low self-esteem.
- It can be fatal. It can cause serious harm on the child.
- It hardens the child. The child may feel like he has paid for the wrongs done. The child may continue in such behaviour since he or she just “pays.”
Nevertheless corporal punishment should be used as the last means of correcting behaviour. Even then the child must be made to understand the alternative behaviour. It should only be administered by a person who is close to the child. The child trusts this person and is not likely to associate the punishment with any form of malice. Such a child reflects on the cause of the punishment and seeks to behave appropriately. Punishment should never be administered when one is angry because it can be fatal.