Children deserve compassion: In support of peaceful parenting

in children •  last year


A last resort

When people say that they use violence against children as a last resort, this is what I think:

Yes, hitting children might be a last resort. First though, I would say to myself that there must be another way. Violence can't be the only way to solve this problem; it can't be the only way to teach a certain student. So, I would read, study, watch videos, find mentors, travel across oceans and walk across hot coals, if it meant I could find a way to raise a child without hitting them. If all of that failed, then I might consider violence as an option. Do you suppose that's what they mean when they say "last resort"?

(In truth, after all that, I would probably keep looking.)

A child doesn't understand reason - operant conditioning

One popular argument in favour of violent, physical discipline of children is that the child cannot understand reason, but he can learn by conditioning. This is true to an extent - even a goldfish can learn by conditioning, so surely it's true of humans. However, the question isn't just "Will the child learn what I want?" But also, "What other lessons will the child learn?" If a child is slapped for trying to cross the road, will he also learn that crossing the road is bad, and grow up to be an agoraphobe?

Learned helplessness - the dog fable

You might have heard about a certain experiment where a dog is placed in a small, electrified pen. For the first few times, the dog might attempt to jump out. After that, it learns its lesson. Most dogs, even when moved to a pen which is not electrified, will decide not to attempt escape. Instead, they tremble, quivering in fear of shock.


The right message, and the wrong message

The dogs received certain information that was correct, and was useful. However, the message was over-generalised, and so leads the dog to make mistakes about the things around it. Likewise, a child who cannot reason cannot correctly interpret the message imparted to her by conditioning. Any crude communication method surely has this problem - over-specification or over-generalisation - and there can be no method cruder than violence.

What messages are we sending?

Your mistakes are worthy of punishment

The message is: your mistakes are not opportunities to learn, but instead deserving of the most brutal, painful rebukes. If you teach a child not to make mistakes, then you must also teach them not to grow, as all growth requires mistakes. If a child is afraid to be wrong, he will never reach his full potential.

Love is pain

The message is: the people you love will hurt you. Love is inseparable from violence. If a child learns this lesson from a young age, we shouldn't be surprised that, when they grow, they end up in, or even seek out, abusive relationships.

You deserve to suffer

I often hear people defending their parents' spankings by saying "Yes, they beat me. But I always deserved it." Did you deserve it? Perhaps you just made a mistake. Does a person deserve violence for a mistake? Or do they deserve compassion and tenderness, in their most vulnerable time, when they are already suffering internally because of their error?

Your parents showed you love and guidance in the only way they knew how. Of course they were harsh with you because they cared for you. If they'd known a better way, would they have used it? If you could find a better way, would you?


I'm bigger, so I get to make the rules

The message is: be a bully. Those who are smaller than you can be subjected to your whims, through violence. Of course, when your child gets bigger than others, or bigger than you - watch out. They will do what you taught them, so teach them well.

Violence solves problems

Generally, it doesn't.

The 'Sue' argument

In the famous song, Johnny Cash tells a story about a fellow named "Sue". His father named him that because he knew the world was tough, and having a name like Sue would make him tougher still. So, the argument goes, children must be beaten to make them hard enough and strong to face the world.

In a violent, predatory world where force ruled, where men had to kill to survive, violence as a teaching method might have made sense. That's not the world that exists today. Look around you and think about how many people pass you on the street. What percentage of people physically assault you? In most places in the world, you'll find it's close to zero. Even human beings who are predatory normally don't often use violence to achieve their ends, but instead lie and manipulate. It takes wits, and empathy to steer clear of such people, and your teaching method should reflect that.

Even so, if the world is really so tough, then we don't need to make it tougher for those we love. If tenderness is so rare on our little planet, any opportunity for tenderness should be pounced on, and cherished.


The ideal teaching method

The ideal teaching method teaches exactly what it sets out to teach, nothing more and nothing less. Violence as a teaching method can never even approximate that level of precision. In general, the only way to make violence into a more precise method, is to use less of it.

Align your teaching method with your goals. If you want your children to grow up with neuroses and issues with love, brutal ideals and a savage view of the world, then use violence. If you want your children to be smart, considerate and patient, lead by example.

About me

kurt robinson in the mountains of puebla

My name is Kurt Robinson. I grew up in Australia, but now I live in Guadalajara, Jalisco. I write interesting things about voluntaryism, futurism, science fiction, travelling Latin America, and psychedelics. Remember to press follow so you can stay up to date with all the cool shit I post, and follow our podcast where we talk about crazy ideas for open-minded people, here: @paradise-paradox, like The Paradise Paradox on Facebook here, and subscribe to The Paradise Paradox on YouTube, and on iTunes

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When people say that they use violence against children as a last resort, this is what I think:

violence begets more violence.

When you make this connection, you see it everywhere.
Its even in our old parables "You reap what you sew"
However, the way we are raised and the way we are indoctrinated is all about control and power over others. It is no wonder we turn first to contol and power of others when raising children.

Remember, raising a child with no boundaries is just as violent.
(which is often what people do when they get the idea that hitting a child is wrong)


"However, the way we are raised and the way we are indoctrinated is all about control and power over others."
I really hope I will live long enough (and contribute) to see a generation raised otherwise.


I hope you do too. Learn win-win negotiating skills and practice them.
Learn all you can from the peaceful parenting group blazing a trail today.
Make sure you are setting and enforcing proper boundaries in your life.

Getting the thoughts and the practice in before you have a child will make a lot of difference when you actually have children. Because, when dealing with a child, you will often get unhinged and fall back on the things you know; how you were raised. Get the new thoughts in there first.

And I wish you luck on your journey.

Excellent post dear friend @churdtzu, I am father of three children never raise their hands and are extraordinary beings, on the contrary children beaten when the great majority grows bad.
Congratulations for this interesting post congratulations


That's great to hear. Congratulations on raising more beautiful peaceful beings for Earth.

i would like to upvote this many many more times!


Thanks! 👌