spare the rod, spoil the child

Spare the rod, spoil the child is a catch phrase used to show that children will flourish much more if they are not punished in a physical way. This phrase references the rod which is used to symbolize punishing a child physically such as spanking them in the more modern way. This phrase suggests that when you spoil a child, or reward their good behaviors rather than punish their bad behavior, they will get farther in life.