Corporal punishment may be necessary at times

Posed photo of an adult holding a cane in front of a child. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singaporeans know, through constant exhortations by child psychologists, that physical punishment is definitely not the first resort (Corporal punishment archaic, does more harm than good, by Ms Teo Leng Lee, Aug 12).

We hear our children out calmly, sit out the little transgressions, actively encourage good behaviour while redirecting bad behaviour, and instruct them on the dire consequences of misbehaviour when limits have been breached.

But how do you deal with the recalcitrant and disrespectful child bent on his anti-social ways, despite the best of intentions from parents who wish better of him?

Many will speak from personal experience of how it was repeated wilful acts of disobedience as a child that actually caused their parents to unleash a slap, a pinch or a twist of the ear - which all now constitute corporal punishment, but which in essence served as a timely wake-up call.

They are now largely grateful for this judicious parental intervention in their development to become pillars of society.

A look at traditional methods of raising children shows how the Eastern parent is a little skewed towards steering a child in the right direction more forcefully.

Despite literature propagated mainly by psychologists with Western leanings, empirical observations on the ground do not reveal more psychologically scarred Asian populations.

If anything, they are more deferential and filial towards their parents, and less rebellious or intransigent towards authority.

That said, discipline that is untowardly mean, harsh or sadistic, meted out only to vent uncontrollable parental frustration, without due consideration for children's psyche and well-being, cannot be condoned by anyone.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2019, with the headline Corporal punishment may be necessary at times. Subscribe