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Thursday, March 19th, 2015
If a mother disciplines by spanking or hitting, and then tries to make up for it with extra love and affection, the warm gestures don’t actually help your child to feel better — or to forget.
Researchers from Duke University interviewed more than 1,000 children and their mothers from eight countries (the U.S., China, Thailand, the Philippines, Italy, Kenya, Jordan, Colombia) to determine the extent of physical punishment each child received and their tendency for anxiety and aggression.
The study results, published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, revealed that even though kind gestures eased the stress of corporal punishment among children ages 8 to 10, aggression and anxiety still remained. In fact, the more loving a parent was after physical discipline, the more anxiety a child had. And not surprisingly, the more severe the punishment, the more severe aggression and anxiety increased.
No reason has been determined as to why maternal warmth doesn’t soothe a child, but one simple theory: “it’s too confusing and unnerving for a child to be hit hard and loved warmly all in the same home,” says Jennifer Lansford, research professor at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University. Mixed signals are confusing, so it doesn’t come as a shock that children respond poorly to contradictory behaviors from their mothers.
“If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and then smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken,” said Dr. Lansford. “Being very warm with a child whom you hit in this manner rarely makes things better.”
No matter how angry you are, experts recommend non-physical forms of discipline in order to encourage good behavior in children.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Young boy via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 6th, 2015
The pope made headlines last month with his repeated support for breastfeeding moms, but now he’s in the news for a different reason: his (apparent) support for spanking done with dignity.
A recent papal address in St. Peter’s Square made waves when Pope Francis shared a story about a father’s physical discipline tactic. CNN reports:
“I once heard at a wedding a father say, ‘I sometimes have to hit my children a little but never in the face, so as to not demean them.’ How nice, I thought, he has a sense of dignity,” the Pope said.
“When he punishes, he does it right and moves on.”
“A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the bottom of his heart. Of course he can also discipline with a firm hand: he’s not weak, submissive, sentimental,” he said.
“This father knows how to discipline without demeaning; he knows how to protect without restraint.”
Much like the vaccines debate, the spanking debate is a touchy, ongoing topic — and Pope Francis’s remarks seem to fall into the “spare the rod, spoil the rod” side. What makes his comments surprising is that the United Nations recently recommended the Vatican prohibit corporal punishment toward child.
While some have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment, a Vatican spokesperson, Father Thomas Rosica, says the pope wasn’t supporting physical punishment so much as proper discipline. “Let us not read into the Pope’s words anything other than what is there. He speaks constantly of mercy and tenderness,” he said.
“The pope was obviously not speaking about committing violence or cruelty against a child but rather about ‘helping someone to grow and mature,’” reports The New York Times.
Which side do you fall in in the spanking debate?
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
Image: Mother spanking daughter via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 20th, 2014
A Kansas lawmaker has proposed legislation that would make it legal for parents to spank children to the point that the strikes would be allowed to leave redness or bruising on the child. (Update: On Feb. 20 the bill was killed before getting a hearing). More from The Associated Press:
Current Kansas law allows spanking that doesn’t leave marks. Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, says he wants to allow up to 10 strikes of the hand and that could leave redness and bruising. The bill also would allow parents to give permission to others to spank their children.
It would continue to ban hitting a child with fists, in the head or body, or with a belt or switch.
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
“To Train Up a Child,” a parenting book that advocates parents use such extreme discipline measures as starvation and severe beatings with switches and plastic tubes, has been implicated in the murders of three children, all adoptees: 4-year-old Sean Paddock, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz, and 13-year-old Hana Williams. Last month, Williams’ adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, were convicted of homicide by abuse after the girl died of malnutrition and hypothermia, both punishments linked with advice from the book, which was written by a preacher and his wife. Politix.com reports on a petition that is circulating urging Amazon.com to remove the book from its website–so far, the petition has garnered more than 80,000 signatures:
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The book by preacher Michael Pearl and his wife Debi advocates using a switch on babies starting at 6 months old. The book also recommends beating older children with a flexible plumbing pipe that “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.” The Williams’s seem to have taken that advice to heart. When Hana died, her body was scarred by beatings with the plumbing line.
The same kind of tubing was used to beat Lydia Schatz, 7, whose adoptive parents were convicted of second-degree murder in her death. Her parents would intersperse beatings with prayer. Lydia “died from severe tissue damage, and her older sister had to be hospitalized,” the New York Times reports. Another small child, 4-year-old Sean Paddock, was scarred by beatings with the tubing when he died at the hands of his adoptive parents.
The Williams’s told friends that Hana was “rebellious” and recommended To Train up a Child as manual for dealing with rebellious children, according to Slate. Hana has also been deprived of food (perhaps following the Pearls’ advice that “a little fasting is good training”) and forced to shower outside and sleep in a barn without bedding, even in freezing weather.
Currently over 670,000 copies of To Train Up a Child are in circulation.
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has linked frequent spanking of young children with problems including aggressive behavior and vocabulary and language delays later in childhood. More from CBS News:
Children who were spanked often early in life by their mothers were more likely to be aggressive later in childhood compared to kids who weren’t spanked at all, a study published in Pediatrics on Oct. 21 concluded. Being spanked by dads was also linked to vocabulary and language problems in kids.
“These effects are long-lasting. They aren’t just short-term problems that wash out over time. And the effects were stronger for those who were spanked more than twice a week,” co-author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York, told HealthDay.
The study involved more than 1,900 families in 20 medium to large U.S. cities who were enrolled in the long-running Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study. Parents were asked how often they spanked their child when he or she was age 3 and 5, and a child’s aggressive behavior and vocabulary were evaluated at 3 and 9 years.
In total, 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers spanked their child at the age of 3. When the child was 5, 52 percent of mothers and 33 percent of fathers spanked their kids.
Mothers who were still spanking their child by the age of 5 — no matter how often — were more likely to have a child who was more aggressive than his or her peers by the time they turned nine. Mothers who spanked their child at least twice a week when they were 3 also had children more likely to have these problem behaviors.
Children who were spanked at least twice a week by their fathers at the age of 5 were more likely to score lower on vocabulary and language-comprehension tests.
Image: Parent angry with child, via Shutterstock
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