Why spanking doesn’t work

I was looking at a map display at Arlington National Cemetery with my daughter when a little guy, around 4 years old, tucked in between us to get a look, too.

“Get away from there!” said the man with the boy. As I turned to see where this stern voice was coming from, and the little boy moved out of the way of the map, I sensed what was coming. I watched as he crouched and cowered on the gravel behind us.

Whack, whack, whack. “Don’t you ever do that again!”

What was lost was a teachable moment about waiting your turn, learning about maps and understanding the history of a precious American landmark. I wish I understood why some parents feel that corporal punishment is an effective way to discipline a child.

A study in the May issue of Pediatrics asked nearly 2,500 moms how often they’d spanked their 3-year-old children in the past month. The researchers also asked questions about the level of aggressive behaviors shown by the child.

Even after accounting for parental “risk” factors, such as parenting stress, alcohol use and other types of aggression within the family, frequent spanking at age 3 increased the odds of higher levels of aggression at age 5.

Despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics against spanking, most parents in the U.S. approve of and have used corporal punishment as a form of child discipline.

Researchers state that this study suggests that even minor forms of corporal punishment increase the risk for a child to behave in aggressive ways.

Do you spank your kids? Why or why not? Not sure why you feel the way you do about spanking?

Reading about the ages and stages parents go through can help. Former Raising Arizona Kids writer Teresa Immerman wrote this story in 1990…but the info still resonates today.

Listen to Proactive Parenting’s Sharon Silver talk about what kind of message spanking sends to a preschooler.


One response to “Why spanking doesn’t work

  1. Though my brothers and I were spanked as children (infrequently), my mom never struck us in anger. She always gave herself a “cooling off” period (which gave us time to pad our bottoms with extra layers of underwear!) and then, when she put us over her knee, she always said, “This hurts me more than it’s going to hurt you.” I was so mortified at making my mother feel bad that her words were far more effective than her whacks.

    I am grateful that I found North Central Parenting Group (ncpgaz.org) as a young mother and learned different strategies for managing the behavior of my own two sons.

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