Does Spanking Children Work?

February 16, 2012 / Michael M. Siegel, MD

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A recent study came out saying that physical punishment of children, including spanking, is increasingly linked with negative consequences in the long term. Further, no positive affects have been shown from the practice of spanking children as a disciplinary method.

Some readers may be thinking, “my parents spanked me and I turned out OK!” And it is true that as recently as 1992, spanking was widely accepted and was certainly not considered abuse. But as we look at more data, physical punishment can be “linked with a variety of psychiatric disorders in children and adults, including depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol abuse.”

So what are some alternatives to spanking for a child who just doesn’t seem to respond to verbal feedback?

- Talk, don’t hit. After all, that is what we are trying to teach our children, right? Parents should lead by example.

- Help the child communicate the way they are feeling when they misbehave. This will help them find ways to deal with the frustration, anger or fear that leads them to misbehave.

- Offer positive reinforcement. Don’t only react to your child when he or she behaves poorly. Reward and praise them when they do something right!

What about your experience? Have you found any creative ways to discipline children without resorting to physical punishment?

Category: Children