The age-old debate on whether to spank or not to spank children still rages on. On one side, many were raised to believe that spanking was an effective way of discipline. On the other side, many believe that spanking can cause harmful psychological damage to children. Here are five reasons not to spank your kids according to the experts.
1. Spanking is linked to aggression
According to the American Psychological Association, several studies have concluded that there is a strong link to physical punishment and aggression. Spanking “can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children.”
2. Spanked children tend to act out more
A Psychological Science study showed that children who were spanked by the time they were five-years-old had an increase in behavioral problems by the time they were six.
“Parents spank for many reasons, such as their educational or cultural background or how difficult their children’s behavior is. These same reasons, which we call selection factors, can also predict children’s behavior problems, making it difficult to determine whether spanking is in fact the cause of behavior problems,” said lead author of the study and psychological scientist Elizabeth T. Gershoff.
3. Researchers state that spanking isn’t effective
“You cannot punish out these behaviors that you do not want,” Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, Dr. Alan Katz told the APA. “There is no need for corporal punishment based on the research. We are not giving up an effective technique. We are saying this is a horrible thing that does not work.”
4. Spanking can cross the line
When emotions are running high, spanking as a form of discipline can cross the line and become dangerous. There is a fine line between spanking and abuse.
5. Anxiety, Depression, and Suicide are linked to Spanking
A University of Michigan study found that spanking can lead to anxiety and depression in children.
“In childhood, parental use of spanking was associated with low moral internalization, aggression, antisocial behavior, externalizing behavior problems, internalizing behavior problems, mental health problems, negative parent-child relationships, impaired cognitive ability, low self-esteem, and risk of physical abuse from parents,” the study explained. “In adulthood, prior experiences of parental use of spanking were significantly associated with adult anti-social behavior, adult mental health problems and with positive attitudes about spanking.”
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