Parenting Tips For Dads: The Line between Discipline and Abuse

By Patrick Ogunnaike

children disciplineWhen it comes to disciplining your child, there is a fine line between discipline and abuse and too often times it can be overlooked. It can be especially challenging for a larger male to be able to identify the difference especially when he may have been abused himself as a child. There has been a lot of talk about discipline and a lot of disagreements on the subject.

For some, they don’t believe in any form of physical punishment and for others they believe that the old school mindset had it right. There are others however that believe in finding the middle ground. The fine line between discipline and abuse, it is that fine line that we are going to be exploring today.

What is the fine line between discipline and abuse? This line over time has moved from place to place and many years ago it was common place to take a switch and discipline on the back and legs as well as the buttocks. Today however, we as a more civilized society do not believe in using tools in our physical discipline and there are some that prefer the open handed approach. This is the method where you spank the child’s bottom with an open hand.

The problem comes in the mindset of the person doing the disciplining. If you are treating your child like you are in a bar fight, you have crossed that line from discipline to abuse and this is the time that you need to sit down and think about what your actions are doing to your child.

When you strike a child in anger even open handed, you are causing far more harm than good and this is one of the top reasons why more and more people are moving away from the physical form of discipline.

You should never “discipline” your child when you’re angry.  If you do this, you’re more likely to lose control and actually hurt your child.  Then all you end up showing your child is that when someone makes you angry then violence is okay. You’re basically teaching them the old motto; “an eye for an eye”.

So, if you believe in the saying, “spare the rod, spoil the child” it is important that you do so responsibly. Never strike when you are emotional. Wait until you have calmed down and you can present the punishment with a calm and collected mind.

When you take this extra step you allow several things to happen, first, you allow yourself to not be ruled by any possible lingering emotions, you are not a woman so you don’t need to take action during an emotional state.

You should also never use physical discipline as a first resort. It should be used as an absolute last choice when there are no other options. If you take some time after the offense has occurred to approach your child with a clear mind you’ll probably figure out a more effective and less violent strategy to use.

Second, before you discipline your child it is important that your child is clear on why they are being punished and what steps they can take to avoid this in the future. If you do not take this step you are enforcing nothing. The purpose of this form of punishment is to establish a connection between negative behavior and punishment.

Overall, it is especially important to choose your battles. It can be easy to want to always be right but it is not always necessary. When you take the time to pick your battles you will discover that the line gets easier and easier to see and that makes it even easier for you to stay on one side.