Parental Challenges

To my knowledge, Pope Francis has never been a parent. So, his experience disciplining children is, at best, second hand. Any modern psychology course introduces students to the distinction between positive and negative reinforcement. It is clear from the terms that positive reinforcement encourages behavior, whereas negative reinforcement discourages behavior. My own son did not receive many spankings during his formative years. I remember only one occasion when he did receive a spanking. To this day, he remembers the experience, and has acknowledged that he deserved it. Any parent wants to discourage anti-social behavior in their children, and the very rare spanking is probably an effective method. This is not an endorsement of child abuse. The German official’s quote that “there can be no dignified hitting” is true. There is nothing dignified, for parent or child, in physical negative reinforcement. It is a tool best used sparingly, if at all.


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