Study Finds Spanking Leads to Aggressive Behavior in Kids

Despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other notable sources, the U.S. remains one of the only first-world countries where hitting our kids is commonplace and seemingly acceptable. New research again sheds a light on the potentially harmful effects that spanking and other forms of corporal punishment can have on our children.

Researchers used data from the Fragile Families and Child Well Being Study, which includes 4,200 children from 20 medium to large sized cities across the country. The findings based on spanking and aggressive behavior appeared in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers wanted to examine the prevalence of mothers and fathers spanking their kids at 3 and 5 years old and the associations between spanking and children’s behavior and receptive vocabulary through age 9.

Overall, 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers engaged in spanking when children were 3 and 52 percent of mothers and 33 percent of fathers engaged in spanking at 5. When moms spanked their kids at 5, their kids exhibited higher levels of bad behavior at age 9. When dads frequently spanked their kids at 5, their kids had lower receptive vocabulary scores at age 9.

While prior studies have linked spanking and aggression, few studies have shown the cognitive developmental link.

The authors stress that there needs to me more done to educate parents on the impact of spanking children, as well as more effective ways of disciplining.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a three-pronged approach to disciplining children. First, establish a loving, supportive relationship with your child. Second, use positive reinforcement to increase behavior you want from your child. Third, instead of using physical punishment, use appropriate time-outs for young children. For older children, take away privileges like sports activities or playing with friends.



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Liz Hayes
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