Studies Show That Spanking Leads To Long-Term Harm In Children


A significant percentage of parents continues to spank their children in spite of warnings from experts that spanking causes more harm than good. Today, the debate on whether corporal punishment is an appropriate means of correction still rages on both online and offline. And no matter how much some people might try to justify it, studies are repeatedly showing that spanking does not yield the outcome we desire.

The American Journal of Family Psychology published a study which was based on research that had been carried out for over 50 years on over 160,000 kids. It revealed that spanking is not suitable for our children.

Researchers from the Universities of Michigan, Austin, and Texas found out that spanked kids were more likely to display defiance towards their parents as they continued to grow, and that it could lead to issues such as aggression, anti-social behavior, cognitive difficulties, and mental health problems.

The study additionally explained the definition of spanking as ‘an open-handed hit on the extremities or behind.’ And in contrast to other studies which look at the effects of spanking as part of abusive behaviors, this particular study just analyzed the impact of spanking alone.

The findings from the research went on to explain that if a parent desires immediate results, corporal punishment does not help and that it is the least effective method of getting through to kids even if it is for the short term.

Data from the study revealed that spanking, in fact, worsened the child’s behavior in most cases. Elizabeth Gersoff, one of the researchers, insisted that using this kind of disciplining technique is quite detrimental to children. And to leave no room for doubt, the research also studied adults who were punished in this way as kids, and the results were disturbing.

The researchers discovered that out of these adults, those that were spanked the most also tended to display antisocial behavior or some kind of mental health disorder. They were also more susceptible to depression and anxiety. The takeaway here is that physically disciplining your child has the same effects as subjecting them to physical abuse.

As a society, we commonly think of physical abuse and spanking as separate entities. Yet, research continues to reveal that spanking also breeds the same adverse outcomes as physical abuse, albeit to a lesser degree.

Most people who are for spanking argue that this form of correction is not wrong because they received it and still turned out okay. However, researchers insist that these people turned out alright in spite of it and not because of it.

Nevertheless, the researchers understand that this can be a bitter pill to swallow especially for societies where corporal punishment is considered to be the ideal form of disciplining children. However, part of being a parent is also being open to new ideas of going about bettering your child. And thus, if this means looking for better ways to get through to them, then it is something that you need to do.

What can you do instead of spanking?

It is essential to understand that there are other ways of getting through to your kid that do not involve physical assault. The following are ten things you can do instead of disciplining them physically.

1. Try and Maintain Your Composure

Often, when parents spank their children, it is because they are feeling overwhelmed. This explains why you are less likely to do this if you are in high spirits. Thus, whenever you are feeling upset about something the kid did, gain control of the situation by first taking a few deep breaths to detach your emotions from the situation. This way, you will analyze the situation more objectively and handle it competently.

2. Teach the Child

Most kids are fast learners. Therefore, instead of firing on all cylinders, keep your cool and explain to them the gravity of their actions.

3. Be Specific

Children are naïve and need to know exactly what you mean and want. Thus, instead of yelling at them about what they shouldn’t be doing, be direct and tell them what they should be doing. They respond best to direct instructions.

4. Take Away Their Things

If they insist on repeating the same mistake, take away the source of the problem. For instance, if they keep throwing their toys, confiscate those toys. This should let them know that there are consequences of not listening to you.

5. Be a Role Model

Be the kind of person that you want them to be. It is not about what you say, but about what you do. If you do not like them messing up the house, ensure that it is always in order in the first place.

6. Take Them Away

If they are being mischievous, end the activity immediately. Give them a timeout.

7. Say No

Refuse to indulge them in their favorite things after they have been up to some mischief. It can be a tall order to say no to your child, but you have to do it, so they know they have to be in your good books if they want to have a nice time.

8. Be Consistent

You should not punish for a thing this time, then give it a pass the next time. You have to practice the above disciplining techniques religiously, so that good behavior gets hardwired into their systems.

9. Keep at It

Raising a well-adjusted adult is a very demanding endeavor. Do not ease off the gas once they become teenagers or get into college. Let them know that you expect them to be at their best always even when they are not living with you.

10. Remove Yourself from the Situation

It is frustrating when you have repeatedly talked about something, and they still commit the same mistake. This is what often leads to spanking. To avoid this, get out of the situation to regain your calm then address it when you are sober.

The critical thing to understand is that these are just children. They are prone to making bad decisions since their reasoning capability is still developing. Thus, accept that they are going to make mistakes every once in a while. As such, be patient and groom them to be the kind of adults that you need them to be. Also, ensure that you reward good behavior. And because kids love treats, they will associate good behavior with positive outcomes while avoiding lousy behavior as it will not serve their best interests.

Do you know someone who thinks spanking is a good method of discipline? Send them this article and you might change their mind.