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You CAN Punish Your Children - IN LOVE!
Plain Truth Magazine
January 1962
Volume: Vol XXVII, No.1
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You CAN Punish Your Children - IN LOVE!
Garner Ted Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: February 9, 1930
Died: September 15, 2003
Member Since: 1930
Ambassador College: 1956
Ordained: 1955
Office: Evangelist

Child beatings, severe spankings by angry parents have caused child psychologists to recoil in horror! To them, punishment always means anger, and love always means no punishment. Read Plain Truth about proper LOVING punishment!

   "I HATE you!" "I'll KILL you!" screams the six year old. What should his parents do? Should they punish?
   This question, when asked a modern child psychologist, received the following answer, "Be aware that the child is going through a difficult period and try to avoid unhappy events."
   But How? How does the parent actually apply any such vague and unrealistic advice in dealing with an angry, screaming child?

Discipline Can Be Constructive

   In the last number, we saw absolute proof of the ultimate benefits of constructive discipline. J. Edgar Hoover said criminals are made, not born! We saw revealed that most youngsters who are legally labeled "juvenile delinquent" have had a long pattern of falsehoods, disobedience, truancy, petty stealing.
   We saw the ridiculous advice from those of the modern school of permissiveness who advocate no punishment, no restraint, no discipline for children who scream "I hate you!" at their parents.
   What a paradox!
   The leaders of the greatest law enforcement agencies in the land tell us that children "left to themselves" and allowed to express anger, hatred, rebellion and indulge in all sorts of lawless acts can easily grow up to be heinous criminals.
   The child psychologists, on the other hand, assure us that these same children will grow up to be perfect little ladies and gentlemen. To quote again from a statement of a leading doctor made recently before the California Academy of General Practice, "At last," he said (following 16 years of no discipline, no restraint), "they're happy, friendly, good-tempered, self-assured and realize that Mom and Dad have finally learned something in the past few months."
   Where should you turn for the answer?
   Surely, if you have been following this series of articles on child rearing, you have seen the answer clearly proved and documented by now! It lies in the statistics of our courts and police departments, which absolutely PROVE that the end result of permissive child rearing is a frustrated, mixed-up, rebellious, monstrous child who is apt to become a hardened criminal!
   Children most definitely should be disciplined!
   They should be disciplined often but always IN LOVE. Discipline and punishment are some of the most valuable tools available to parents for the positive and loving teaching of their little children.

Improper Punishment

   Punishment should never be merely negative-but ALWAYS, without fail, accompanied by positive teaching. The right action, the right method, which is expected of the child, should be clearly shown him not only the wrong ones.
   Because of certain abuses in punishment, child psychologists have advocated a swing to the opposite end of the pendulum that of no punishment whatsoever!
   They have observed parents utilizing physical punishment as a constant negative measure but omitting the constructive, positive teaching. Some parents, who are actually unqualified to be parents, are prone to punish their children in the heat of anger, with
   hardness and cruelty. Rather than instilling into the child the healthy "fear" which is right and good not "terror," these parents do cause children to build up feelings of resentment and anger.
   They'll probably find their children using lying to escape punishment, and developing into cheats and child criminals!
   Seeing these abuses in the punishment of children, many have assumed that all punishment must be wrong!
   This is simply untrue. God plainly says, "Children, OBEY your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise; 'that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth' and ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:1-4).
   Notice, God says do not provoke your children to wrath!
   But a constant attitude of negativism of only saying "No!" and never saying "Yes! " of only showing a child what he should NOT do, and never showing him what he can and should do punishing only in a NEGATIVE way will, in the long run, "provoke your children to wrath!"
   God always punishes His children in Love never in anger and wrath! Notice how Jeremiah prayed: "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing" (Jer. 10:23-24).
   God's very nature is love! Yet, we have read in past numbers that God says He punishes every son that He truly LOVES! Jeremiah prayed for punishment. But he wanted God to punish him in judgment, in mercy, and in LOVE not in anger.
   Most parents usually punish children only when those children have driven them to it. They are punishing because they are literally trying to "get back at" their children and are angry because their child has done something which has disturbed them.
   This is improper punishment, and will never bring the right result.
   Another danger in punishment is leaving the child immediately after the punishment to himself and leaving him with the impression that he is still guilty.
   The positive type of punishment always carries with it the automatic understanding that the child is now forgiven for his wrong action, and is now in the good graces of his parents!
   Only by parents carefully explaining this to their children, and showing that they are punishing in love, with judgment and wisdom, using great discretion, will they avoid some of these dangers in punishment.
   One "authority" assures us that punishment is "the end step in a long course of happenings that has carried both parents and children away from the positive feelings of love and understanding" (The Complete Book of Mothercraft, Parents' Institute, page 365). Perhaps, in many cases, it is.
   However, if punishment is done IN LOVE, if children are always shown some positive affection after punishment, this statement becomes completely untrue.
   You will be surprised how often a child will thoroughly repent of his wrong action and assure you that he is sorry for his wrong deed, throwing his arms around you and telling you how much he loves you when you punish in an attitude of love, and let him know that the punishment carries forgiveness with it.

NEVER Beat a Child!

   Today, any case of child beating is sensational.
   Newspapers and magazines have widely published certain horrifying abuses of children by berserk parents who were totally unfit and unqualified to be parents. As a result, a school of "do-gooders" has arisen who regard any form of punishment as an extreme. They say that some parents "recommend the indiscriminate use of corporal punishment with the cruelty and sadistic satisfaction that is frightening" and say that most parents "turn to this extreme as a last resort, and because they think that nothing else will work" (The Complete Book of Mothercraft, Parents' Institute, page 365).
   Let's really understand! There is never, under any circumstances, a time to BEAT a child. A child should NEVER, under any circumstances, be punished in anger! A child should never be bruised, or injured!
   But stating this does not justify the arguments of some "extremists" who, like the never-ending pendulum, swing from one opposite extreme to another. To them, the very word "punishment" MEANS a cruel, sadistic BEATING! One author went so far as to say, as already quoted, "The word 'punishment' should not appear in our dictionaries except as an obsolete word, and I believe this should be just as, true in the field of criminology as in that of child rearing... why then should the parents... ever punish in the old Biblical sense?" (Psychological Care of Infant and Child, Watson, pages 63-65).
   Do you see? This author cannot bring himself to conceive of PROPER punishment, done in love, in a right manner, and at the right time! But punishment can be done correctly!

What Effective Punishment Should Accomplish

   Any type of punishment, whether a physical spanking, deprivation of privilege, or other type, must always suit the offense. It must, at all costs, be prompt, and must never be done unless preceded by a warning. It must never be done in anger but it must always be felt!
   Effective punishment is never "temporary." It is aimed, not at temporarily quieting a child, or causing him to discontinue some annoying act, but at the long-range goals of establishing the HABIT of obedience, proper self-control and self-discipline.
   In ordinary cases, states one authority, corporal punishment is unnecessary after the younger years of childhood. At any age, it is, they stress, a temporary measure. We have not been successful in our training until the child obeys from CHOICE, and "from ideals that have been developed and not because of fear of physical punishment" (Training Children, Pyle, p. 172).
   If parents have applied effective punishment in the early years, the formative years, and "bent the twig" before it becomes a gnarled, huge, unyielding tree, then punishment is truly a temporary measure.
   However, if loving, TEMPORARY parental punishment does not instill true self-discipline, and the proper ideals and morals then society may well inflict much harsher, and far more permanent punishment on that same child who has become a hardened criminal! The gas chambers of our land are pretty permanent!
   Remember, HABITS MUST BE FORMED. Corporal punishment, done in discretion and love, must take the place of higher motives when the child is TOO YOUNG to really know the difference between right and wrong.
   Children learn by HABIT. Habits must be FORMED in a child!
   When the child is entirely too young to discern right from wrong, good from evil, his parents have the God-given responsibility to make his decisions for him.
   This must be done in a workable, practical manner!
   In one of the first installments of this series, a quotation appeared from a child psychologist advocating surrounding a child with "interesting objects" to take his interest away from harmful habits.
   Let's see how workable, how sensible this teaching really is, if any parent would dare to follow it!
   "The parent's attitude should be positive, should be that of the instructor... by surrounding the child constantly with objects that it can build up and manipulate, we soon get it to form habits of working with objects that it has a right to work with. In this way, 'forbidden' objects come gradually to lose their stimulating values; the children cease to play with fire, with matches, they stop turning gas jets on and off, picking up sharp knives and forks, pulling over glass vases and bottles. But where the positive method of training does not make them let these objects alone, then gentle pencil rapping is a safe and sane procedure" (Psychological Care of Infant and Child, Watson, pp. 63-65).
   But can you, as a parent, AFFORD to let your child GRADUALLY get over turning the gas jets on and off, picking up knives, playing with fire, and pulling over glass vases and bottles?
   Is this really PRACTICAL? Can you really USE IT? Can you?
   Any sensible adult person knows better.
   In this completely unworkable and permissive teaching is a very important principle. A child must be taught the habit of obedience! He must be TAUGHT NEVER to play with fire, or to turn on the gas jet, or to pull heavy vases and bottles on himself!
   But HOW? By "surrounding him with interesting objects?" Of course not!
   You and I know that the most interesting object to the child is the FORBIDDEN one!
   But let's be PRACTICAL! Let's be SENSIBLE!
   Notice this quotation from an "old fashioned" child-rearing authority of a few decades ago! "For example, when a very young child runs away from the house and the mother follows with a little switch and inflicts a keen pain on the child's legs, and invariably does this when the child runs away, she breaks the child of running away and may thereby save his life" (Training Children, Pyle, p. 172).
   Do you see? The so-called "positive" method of the psychologist is NOT really positive but negative! It advocates DOING NOTHING as the first measure, and then "gentle" pencil rapping presumably on the back of the hand, which SHOULD NEVER BE DONE! But let's really ANALYZE this spineless practice!
   What if the child does not obey even after the "pencil rapping"? THEN what? They simply do not say. The obvious problem with this nebulous theorizing is that the FIRST disobedient act of a child could be his LAST!
   You simply cannot afford to let a child "gradually" quit running away, or out into the street, or turning on the GAS, playing with fire, and breaking vases ' and bottles! You've got to get RESULTS and get them fast!
   Let's analyze another example of a child who openly flaunts authority be fore his parents. As already quoted, the child psychologists assure us the Eighteen year old mother... asked to "come here, dear," either stands still or runs in the opposite direction. (He may even like to walk backwards) Ask him to put something in the wastebasket, they tell us, and he is more likely to empty out what is already in it. Hold out your hand for the cup which he has just drained, he will drop it onto the floor. Give him a second sock to put on, and he will more likely than not remove the one which is already on his foot. His enjoyment of the opposite, they continue, "may be the reason why it works so well, if he is running away from you to say 'bye-bye,' and walk away from him. Then he MAY come running.
   "Not only does he not come when called he seldom obeys any verbal command. 'No' is his chief word!" (Emphasis ours) (p. 22, Child Behavior, Ilg and Ames.)
   Assuming a young couple have been attempting to "rear" their child according to these spineless reasonings, let's see what could easily happen.
   The parents, with a small eighteen month old boy, are walking casually along the streets of their town. Their boy, simply because he is supposedly in one of the "phases" of childhood which demands a negative and rebellious answer to everything, is disobedient. He rebels at any command of his parents, saying "NO" to their every order, and laughingly runs from them when they attempt to correct him, scorning their feeble efforts at keeping him under control by plucking ineffectually at his sleeve.
   They approach an intersection. The light is red. The child, seeing something interesting across the street, begins to run for it. Each parent, frightened almost beyond words, shouts "NO! NO! STOP! at the top of his voice. A screech of tires, the laughing face of their child, looking back at them as he follows his babyish habit of "running away from them" when they say "No," a sickening "thud!" and their baby boy is a lifeless, grotesquely sprawled form lying under a car.
   A purely hypothetical case, you say? No! Far from it! It happens quite frequently! But it ONLY happens to children who are disobedient to their parents' commands, and who have not been TAUGHT not to run away from their parents, not to resist, rebel, and do the exact opposite of everything their parents tell them!
   Almost the identical situation took place with my son! Except I had taught my boy what "No!" meant. We were walking home from church, and Mark had run ahead about 15 or 20 feet. As we came to the crossing before our house, a car came racing down the usually quiet street on which we lived. Mark began to step off the curb, to run across to the house. Seeing the car rapidly approaching, I shouted NO!
   There was no time to "reason" with Mark. There was no time to "surround" him with objects that he "could build up and manipulate!" in order to take his mind off running across the street.
   Instead, there was only time for the single shouted command "NO!"
   There was the roar of an engine, a swirling of leaves and dust, and the face of my boy, standing stock-still, waiting obediently at the curb, smiling at me as he stopped instantaneously upon hearing that command. I breathed a sigh of relief, and expressed my thankfulness to God, and then to my wife, for the wonderful blessing it is to know God's method of child rearing really WORKS!

WHEN to Punish

   As has already been proved, the time to BEGIN constructive discipline, and punishment, when necessary, is at birth! It was only because I had taught my son by means of constant association the full meaning of the word "no" that his life was saved in this particular instance.
   The time to begin training your child by associating certain things together is shortly after birth. Obviously, it would be too early to spank a one day old baby! However, there are also many thousands who will tell you it is much too early to punish any child who is under one year of age!
   The only trouble with this concept is that many HABITS are deeply instilled within the child by the time he reaches one year of age! There can be no absolute hard and fast rule as to the exact moment at which you should begin corrective measures to instill the habit of obedience and respect for authority within your children. However, since we know punishment must be just and graded to the nature and the degree of the offense, it should hinge upon the time when it is first required.
   Let us now understand when effective discipline may be required! Any parent, having a newly born child in his home, quickly learns to discern the difference between a "hunger" cry, a "wet ' cry, a "hurt" cry and an "angry" cry. Let us repeat, ANY parent should certainly be able to discern the differences in the emotional outbursts in their children.
   To spank a child simply because it is crying would be a terrible mistake. A parent would feel grievously ashamed and terribly hurt if, after spanking his child for crying, he found an open safety pin sticking the infant had caused the outburst! HOWEVER, let us not swing to the opposite extreme and "kid ourselves" that EVERY time the child cries there is some reason other than anger or rebellion for it! The chances are, you will not begin to discern the difference between these various sounds in the child's crying until after a few weeks of life. Let us assume the following situation develops:
   Your boy is two months of age. He has been properly bathed, fed, and put to bed comfortably. It is now well past the time he should normally be sleeping. However, he begins crying or "fussing." You arise from bed, go to his room and check carefully to see why he is crying. You know he had been fed, you have checked his diapers and clothing carefully to see that he is not bound in his clothing, or that there is not any open pin. (Many "locking type" safety pins are, available which make this almost an impossibility today)
   The child is not pulling his knees up, indicating he does not have a stomachache. You notice that he ceases crying immediately when you pick him up, and begins to cry the moment you put him back down. Now you have ascertained his cry is an "attention" cry merely wanting to be held. Not a serious crime in itself, and certainly it is not wrong for a parent to rock his child to sleep, to allow the child to go to sleep on the bosom of the parent and then quietly place him in his own crib, or to walk with him until he is asleep. HOWEVER you must start sometime to teach him the MEANING of the word "NO! "
   Any normal six week old baby is old enough to begin to understand and follow simple commands! Place the baby back in his crib. Retire from the room. After he begins "fussing again, walk to the side of his crib, bend over and make sure he hears you. Point your finger at him and say once, firmly, but not Too loudly, "No!" Retire from the room. Usually, he will either stop crying momentarily at the sound of your voice, or will be continuing to cry all the way through your entry into the room and your command. However, don't begin to make the mistake here that so many parents make of "not being sure" their child HEARD or UNDERSTOOD them!
   Usually, he will begin to cry again the moment you leave the room. Next, walk firmly to the side of his crib, and, using only one or two fingers, deftly and smartly spat him on the buttocks. You may, without removing the heavy nighttime diapers, spat him sharply very high on the side of the thigh. But FIRST, strike yourself on the back of the hand, the wrist, or the cheek to determine the strength of the spat, and make definitely SURE you do not strike the child too hard. HOWEVER, Do make sure you strike him HARD ENOUGH so that he feels it!
   This will be your child's first experience with a "spanking." The chances are, if he is a normal child, he will wail so loudly, so brokenheartedly, with such a mixed sound of surprise, pain and anger that it will amaze you! But you have begun to teach him a valuable lesson. You have not really "hurt" the child in a lasting sense. You have not given him any "complexes." You have not "wounded" or "injured" the child!
   What we HAVE done is to begin to teach your child a positive ASSOCIATION between the phonetic sound of the sharp command "NO!" and the stinging pain that follows when he disobeyed.
   The child may drop off into a deep sleep within a few moments of crying. ALLOW him to cry until you can tell by the sound of his crying that the pain, hurt and surprise has died down and he is not still crying merely as the aftereffects of his first "spanking."
   This will vary, and needs a great deal of wisdom and judgment. But it also needs firmness, and assurance you are doing this GOD'S WAY, and purposeful determination to carry the lesson through.
   If the child then, after 10 or 15 minutes begins to cry again and you can discern this is another "attention" cry, REPEAT the performance. Repeat it EXACTLY as it was done before. Walk firmly into the room, bend over the crib, say "NO!" to the child sharply. Already, you will probably notice the child ceases crying immediately with a look of "shocked" surprise come over his face. But, true to form, he may begin crying again the minute you leave the room. Usually, the second sharp spat (and preferably not in the same place as the first will be all that is needed for this first lesson. The baby will fill his lungs with good pure air, wave his little arms and kick his feet, have a good healthy cry, and usually lapse into a full, deep and tired sleep!
   Let us state here that IT IS FULLY REALIZED the mere SUGGESTION Of "spanking" an infant, and especially an infant of this AGE, may, if a person is so totally STEEPED in the spineless licentiousness, the proven idiocy and the impractical permissiveness of child psychologists, that it may arouse to bitter heights of anger those who have been the victims of such teaching. However, if you remain hostile toward kind, loving, healthful discipline at this juncture of these many articles then it is probably true that NOTHING not even the inspired, GOD-BREATHED commands of your Heavenly Father, who gives you every breath of air you breathe, will change your opinions.
   We have seen, then, that the time to BEGIN punishing is very early in life, as soon as is practicable after birth, or, as soon as a similar situation arises to the one stated above.

Spanking Is Not the "Last Resort"

   Let it be clearly understood that spanking is not the "least desired" of the various methods of punishment, but the BEST method, one which is God given. Spanking should NEVER be considered a "last resort" when all has failed. It seems people who are sick and afflicted will try every other means known to man before they will FINALLY in absolute DESPERATION "give God a try!" So it seems to be with child rearing.
   Parents will try every method which has been devised by the "no discipline" school of theorists, shunning as being something terribly distasteful the application of physical punishment.
   But spanking should NEVER be done in anger! It should ALWAYS be done in love. The child psychologists have been unable to reconcile themselves to the conception that any parent is capable of punishing his child in love!
   Spanking is NOT an extreme as a "last resort" but is the best method of positive teaching, the God-given, Divinely inspired method, the way that really works!

(To be continued next issue: How to GET RESULTS!)

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Plain Truth MagazineJanuary 1962Vol XXVII, No.1
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