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How Spanking Your Kids Can be Detrimental to Their Mental Health

Apr 29, 2016 05:01 AM EDT
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Surely you've heard of the popular saying, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," but a new study reveals that you should think twice before spanking your child.

Spanking is the most commonly accepted form of corporal punishment. It is a form of disciplining a child by hitting their buttocks or extremities with an open palm. It is said that there are times that a child may need a good beating to realize their mistakes, but researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan begs to differ.

According to their 50-year long study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, spanking a child would not reach the outcome parents wanted to be, instead a child who experience spanking is more likely to be anti-social and aggressive. Spanking a child may also increase their risk of developing mental health problems and difficulties in their cognitive abilities.

"We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents' intended outcomes when they discipline their children," said study author Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, in a statement.

For the study, the researchers analyzed five decades worth of data following over 160,000 children. Researchers are careful to differentiate spanking from potential physical abuse. Over the course of the study, researchers found out that the more spanking a child experienced growing up, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and mental health problems.

The researchers have also discovered that parents who were spanked during their childhood tends to employ the same corporal punishment to their children, showing evidence that the attitude toward spanking can passed on from generation to generation.

Another concerning that the study has revealed is that the spanking and physical abuse have nearly the same strength in having a detrimental effect in the child.

Due to the potential negative effects of spanking to a child, researchers suggest that parents should use positive and non-punitive forms of discipline.

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