Spanking Actually Worsens A Child's Behavior And Can Harm Them, Says Study

Spanking Actually Worsens A Child's Behavior And Can Harm Them, Says Study

Spanking is still prevalent in many families in America and is also legal in all states.

Being a parent is no easy task and when it comes to disciplining kids, many parents tend to rely on physical punishment. However, research suggests that such a form of punishment does not appear to improve a child's positive behavior or social competence over time. CNN reports that an article, published Monday in the journal Lancet, reviewed 69 studies from the US, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Physical punishment such as spanking is "harmful to children's development and well-being," said senior author Elizabeth Gershoff, a professor in human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. "Parents hit their children because they think doing so will improve their behavior," Gershoff said. "Unfortunately for parents who hit, our research found clear and compelling evidence that physical punishment does not improve children's behavior and instead makes it worse."



Over the years, many experts have been calling for parents to stop spanking their children. Children need love, support, and firm guidance, they reaffirmed. The majority of the studies showed a significant negative impact on kids in many ways. Spanking and other forms of child punishment resulted in more external problem behaviors over time, Gershoff explained, such as "increased aggression, increased antisocial behavior, and increased disruptive behavior in school."


Parents who spank their kids are often adults who were spanked as children themselves. By doing this, they are creating a cycle of trauma that could be incredibly damaging. While there has been a decline in physical punishment towards children by 2017, a study found that 35% of parents were still spanking their children. That number is still too high according to the standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2018, according to Dr. Robert Sege, who specializes in the study of child abuse. "Parents should never hit their child and never use verbal insults that would humiliate or shame the child," said Sege, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' policy statement on corporal punishment.




So how can parents discipline their kids in healthier ways that won't be detrimental to their development? The pediatricians' group suggests "healthy forms of discipline" which include positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits, and setting expectations. They strongly advise against spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating, and shaming.



"During the first year what infants need to learn is love," Sege said in a previous interview, "while they discover their new abilities such as crying and making messes. So parents should distract, by giving them other things to do that are less disruptive or picking them up and moving them to a different place. That's all they can do. Toddlers crave their parent's attention, so use that to your advantage," Sege said. "Pay attention to the things your children do that are wonderful; reward them for those with praise. Then when they do something you don't like, put them in time-out and take the attention away. Use that. That's how time-outs work." As your child grows they need to understand the natural consequences of their behavior. "Instead of shielding, help them learn the lesson, as long as they are not in danger," Sege said. "Things like, 'You didn't put your toys away, so instead of playing, you have to clean them up before we can play.' It takes parents out of the loop." Sege admitted, "It's hard because it requires, at least at first, a level of mindfulness and thought on what you are doing as a parent. Parenting isn't easy. The good thing is that our children excuse us for the mistakes we make."