As if it wasn’t obvious, researchers Elizabeth Gershoff and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor have analyzed studies regarding spanking and found out that specifically giving a child “a swat on the behind with an open palm” causes increased levels of mental issues, aggression and reduced cognitive capacity in the child’s future behavior.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics openly disregards physical punishment as a method of correction, according to UNICEF 4 out of 5 parents in the world reportedly spank their children, but Gershoff argues that this number is higher due to recent surveys in the U.S.

A recent study found that spanking increases the levels of mental issues, aggression and reduced cognitive capacity in the child. Credit:

Studying spanking

As it was mentioned, the research only took into account cases where the children were provided with a spanking on the behind with an open palm, while ignoring more severe methods of punishment.

It was a meta-research involving a total of 160,000 children from within 75 case studies. 17 possible outcomes were listed in order to establish potential links between this type of physical punishment and psychological disorders. The results indicated that 13 out of the 17 negative outcomes were somehow related to spanking.

Spanking was then again named as an ineffective method of improving a child’s behavior. The study found out that it is quite the opposite, as spanking was closely related to aggression, antisocial behavior, low self-esteem and a greater chance of being physically abused by their parents.

Healthy and effective alternatives

Experts argue that the better way to treat a child’s behavior is with either a discussion or a time-out, as both the child and the parent have the opportunity to settle down and critically assess each other behavior to reach a common ground in whether a particular action was wrongful or not.

It is also suggested to apply direct consequences to the misbehavior. Taking away toys and electronic devices puts a safe and healthy concern on the child’s mind, so they are able to break through the dependence barrier and understand that they are being punished for misbehaving.

Saying ‘no’ with a stern voice, clapping and pointing with the index finger while making eye contact are also advisable ways of getting your child’s attention; but it is recommended to always focus on the positive side of correcting behavior, as it is always better to teach rather than to punish. 

Source: Journal of Family Psychology