Is Spanking Your Child Ever OK? Researchers List Unwanted Outcomes Of This Parenting Technique

Date February 6, 2018

Spanking is one of the most controversial parenting practices and is still used widely by many parents. You have probably heard parents that spank their children respond to criticism with some form of the following: “My parents spanked me, my grandparents spanked my parents, and we all turned out just fine.

But studies on the effects of spanking on children’s behavior seem to prove that getting physical does nothing to correct undesired behaviors in the long term, makes children more aggressive, harms their relationship with parents, and leads to mental issues in adulthood.

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Spanking and other forms of corporal punishment are banned in most of the European Union, Israel, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Kenya, and many other countries, but the U.S. is yet to follow suit. In fact, surveys show that the majority of American parents, including some celebrities, consider spanking acceptable. What makes it different from some other forms of physical punishment is that it doesn’t cause injury. But most child behavior experts argue that spanking deters a child from misbehaving only temporarily, but leads to more behavior problems in the long run.

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Researchers from the University of Texas in Austin and the University of Michigan analyzed hundreds of studies on spanking. They made a list of 17 unwanted outcomes of this parenting method and found that children who get spanked regularly failed in 13 of 17 of the possible negative outcomes, including alcohol abuse in adulthood and mental issues.

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Children whose parents spank them underperform academically, display aggression and other antisocial behaviors towards their parents, siblings, and peers, and often become abusive parents and spouses once they grow up. They also have a low self-esteem and develop mental problems, such as depression and anxiety, which are likely to persist into their adult years. Taking into account the fact that most American parents think spanking is OK, these outcomes may sound exaggerated, but they vary in degree and are connected to other factors and the general emotional atmosphere in the family.

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Spanking doesn’t make parents bad. Most of them truly believe that it’s harmless to their children and is a good way to teach them how to behave. But other techniques, such as positive reinforcement, work much better. Say, a child was playing and didn’t put his toys back into the toy box. Instead of letting fly at him, the parent should calmly tell him to clean up and promise a reward, such as a candy. If a child does something wrong, to correct this behavior, it’s better to explain to him or her why it’s wrong and upsets you or someone else, and what the child should do instead. Good behavior should be rewarded with praise.

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Spanking may or may not lead to terrible outcomes for the child, but there are other, more effective ways to get your message across.

Source: TIME Magazine,, The Conversation

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.