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Spare the rod?

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Every parent  would normally have different methods of raising their children, but it is fair to say that whichever method used can fall under these two categories, they either spare the rod or don’t. Most African homes tend to follow the ever famous Bible quote Prov. 13: 24, which has been understood to imply “Spare the rod, spoil the child”, and therefore physically discipline their children until they get to an age were they naturally become more reasonable and responsible.


This method is pretty much a form of conditioning which psychologists over the years have shown works with animals and infants. However, one has to consider the possible effects physical discipline could have on a child on the long run. Would it eventually make the child more disciplined or more violent to others? More stubborn or more compliant? A modern theory is that the long-term effects of whatever method parents use to train their children would depend significantly on that child’s temperament.

According to the American psychologist Jerome Kagan, a temperament refers to those aspects of an individual’s personality, such as introversion or extroversion, that are often regarded as innate rather than learned. Arguably the most common theory of temperaments would be that which suggests choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic temperaments are fundamental. Having said that, shall all parents then carefully observe the temperament of their children as to discover the the more effective methods to use when raising that child?

If you say yes- that would require at least one parent spending adequate time with the infant. Time which most Child violence protests placardworking parents should but may not have. However the benefits may well be worth it. Take for example a choleric child and a sanguine child. Sanguines are said to be pleasure-seeking and sociable, therefore it may be more effective using reward and punishment for such a child than for a choleric child who is more stubborn and assertive.

On the other hand, if you say no- it means that you believe that both children should be disciplined the same way regardless. This would mean treating a melancholic child who is naturally prone to sadness with the same sternness used for a naturally stubborn child. The long term effects for the melancholic child may be devastating. Having said that, it’s naturally the troublesome and more stubborn children that would get more physical discipline than the others. This could prove just as the better behaved children, having observed the consequences of bad behaviour, are reinforced in their behaviour and are beaten less.sparetherod2sparetherod4

Whatever method one chooses to use to discipline their children, it is important that they do it solely for the good of the child. Using a child as a punching bag due to being frustrated with life or transferring anger from work on your child would do more damage than good to that child.

Be mindful of your actions – especially when dealing with children.

Whats YOUR opinion? You are very welcome to leave your comments below.


Author: mhcbiofeedback

Dr. Morayo Jimoh, a Chartered Educational Psychologist, is also a neurofeedback therapist in private practice. She obtained a Doctoral degree in the field of Psychology of Education from University of South Africa (UNISA). She is a member of the following associations: 1. Association for Applied psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB); 2. International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR); and 3. American Psychological Association (APA). 4. British Psychological Society 5. Psychological Society of South Africa Her field of interest is neuropsychological learning disabilities in children. Dr. Morayo Jimoh is a lecturer in Child Development in the Department of Early Childhood Education and Development under Distance learning at University of South Africa.

One thought on “Spare the rod?

  1. Reblogged this on Mobile Health Consult and commented:

    How do would you discipline or reprimand your child?? Share your thoughts

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