The Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal or physical punishment as: “Any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.” This includes: hitting (smacking, slapping, spanking) children, with the hand or with an implement – a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc, kicking, shaking, throwing, burning or scalding children, pinching, scratching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions or forcing children to swallow hot spices or washing children’s mouths out with soap.

Positive Discipline

Rather than use corporal punishment to discipline the children, let us use positive discipline.  It is a non-violent, continuous and consistent process of guiding a child to behave in a manner that is acceptable. Positive discipline is about teaching children right from wrong including setting limits and following through with a child.


Positive discipline helps a child learn self-control and with that comes self-esteem and confidence.



Comparing corporal punishment and positive discipline.

Corporal Punishment

Positive Discipline

Punish: “Punishment” comes from the Latin word “punier”, which means “pain”.

Teach: “Discipline” comes from the Latin word “discipline” are which means “teach”.

Authoritarianism: Corporal punishment flourishes in schools where principals make all the rules

Participation: Positive discipline flourishes in schools where codes of conduct are drawn up in consultation with learners, teachers and parents.


Force & Punishment: Teachers use force to make learners obey rules and punish learners for making mistakes.


Positive Reinforcement: Teachers use praise, incentives and problem solving to motivate ‘good’ behaviour and give learners insight into their behaviour and its consequences.


Criticism :Teachers criticise learners’ weaknesses and make them feel small.

Self-esteem: Teachers build on learners’ strengths and make them feel tall

 Source: A Teachers Guide to Positive Discipline, (Save the Children, 2008)


Children's Corner