How Do You Spare the Rod?


Quick Answer

The phrase "Spare the rod, spoil the child," refers to raising children without corporal punishment. There are myriad ways to raise well-adjusted children without using corporal punishment ? or without any punishment at all. It is no longer considered necessary to hit or spank children to discipline them correctly, explains KidsHealth.

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Full Answer

The Bible is often alluded to as the origin of the phrase, "Spare the rod, spoil the child." However, this phrase does not actually appear in the Bible, although it may have been extrapolated from the many references to the word "rod" mentioned in relation to disciplining children. According to Dr. William Sears, the word "rod" in the Bible most likely referred more to guidance than hitting, similar to the way a shepherd guides his flock using a stick. Some parents choose a system of non-physical punishments and rewards to discipline their children. If the children behave, they earn certain rewards; if they misbehave, they may lose privileges, or they may be given a time out. Still others believe that punishments and rewards are themselves too harsh; they raise their children by focusing on and reinforcing positive behaviors, and consider punishments only as natural consequences for the bad behavior.

According to Dr. Alan Kazdin, focusing on teaching positive behavior is the only way to keep children from falling back into bad behavior. According to Dr. Kazdin, practicing the positive behavior every day, even as a game, helps children replace bad behavior with the good behavior in as little as one to three weeks. Praise and hug often, particularly when children behave in the new, positive way, advises Kazdin; giving high-fives and thumbs-up are also effective. Paying extra attention to the children is also an effective reward.

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