What do you do when you child is driving you mad? When you can’t deal with their temper tantrums in the frozen aisle? How do you punish a child?
If you have found yourself resorting to spanking in those moments, a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Austin, says that’s not the answer.
For the study, experts used data on over 160,000 children collected from 50 years of research. They found that children who often received spanking as punishment for negative behavior were more likely to respond with antisocial behavior and aggression.
Featured in the Journal of Family Psychology, the study also discovered that the more frequently children were spanked, the higher the chance they will exhibit these undesirable behaviors in consequence.
This is “a complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking,” according to the researchers’ statement in a press release. Studies conducted prior to this one used to focus on broader effects of physical punishment in general, as opposed to just spanking.
For the study, the authors defined spanking as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities of the child. Results showed that spanking only increases the likelihood of undesired outcomes in terms of negative behavior.
In other words, spanking does the opposite of what parents usually hope it will do. Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, study co-author and associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, explained that spanking had almost the same adverse outcomes as physical abuse.
Co-author Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, added that society tends to look at physical abuse and spanking as distinct behaviors – and in our adult minds, they surely are.
But research shows that children often can’t tell the difference between the two; both these behaviors can lead to the same negative outcome in the child, but to a slightly lesser degree.
In the press release, authors cite a 2014 UNICEF report that notes that spanking is one of the most preferred punishment methods; as many as 80 percent of parents worldwide use it to get their children to listen to them.
Gershoff expressed the hope that the outcome of the new study would “educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline.”
Image Source: The Star