Do you thinking spanking changes behavior? It doesn’t, according to a new University of Missouri study.
Spanking only suppresses behavior.
Researchers found that children as young as 15 months old “displayed negative temperament and were less likely to show positive behaviors in the fifth grade and even into their teenage years.”
The impact is more noticeable in African-American children than in European-origin children, the study also found.
Parents should refrain from physical punishments because of long-lasting negative impacts, said study co-author Gustavo Carlo, a Millsaps College professor and director of family policy research, said
“How parents treat their children at a young age … significantly impacts their behavior.”
Instead, parents should teach their children to regulate their behaviors in healthy ways at an early age to nurture positive behaviors.
What’s different about this study?
This is the first long-term study done on lasting affects of spanking.
The study, published last month in Developmental Psychology, looked at nearly 1,900 mothers and children at or below national poverty level.
Researchers then divided families between those who identified as African-American or European origins.
The most affected group
Long-term effects of severe discipline were found only in African-American children, according to researchers.
Some lingering behavior issues included:
- Increased aggressive behaviors.
- Increased delinquent behaviors.
- Increased susceptibility to drug and alcohol abuse.
“Spanking conveys a message to them that they are not good. It causes them to become aggressive later on in their lives.” — Gustavo Carlo, study co-author
Spanking does not automatically mean parents should expect “maladjusted children,” he said, but it significantly increases the likelihood of future negative adolescent behaviors.
“If we think about child development as a jigsaw puzzle where many things are affecting our kids, this is one piece of the puzzle that increases the chances of negative child outcomes.”
What are the alternatives?
- Remove the child from the situation.
- Have “moral conversations.”
- Take away privileges.
“Spanking suppresses behavior quickly, but does not change it,” said Brian Johnson of the University of Northern Colorado, another study co-author. “Spanking also increases a child’s anger, resentment, and desire to get revenge.”