Give Now

2012 Archives

Why spanking doesn’t work

Excerpt

The following is from a February 6, 2012, edition of Time magazine. SMU Psychology Professor George Holden provided expertise for this story.

February 6, 2012

By Bonnie Rochman

Want your kid to stop whatever dangerous/annoying/forbidden behavior he’s doing right now? Spanking will probably work — for now.

But be prepared for that same child to be more aggressive toward you and his siblings, his friends and his eventual spouse. Oh, and get ready for some other antisocial behaviors too.

A new analysis of two decades of research on the long-term effects of physical punishment in children concludes that spanking doesn’t work and can actually wreak havoc on kids’ long-term development, according to an article published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. . .

Yet, as I wrote last summer in a story about the first real-time study of parents spanking their children, some research has found that up to 90% of parents say they use corporal punishment:

Despite a battery of disciplinary techniques, including the infamous “time out,” redirection and the increasing emphasis on positive discipline (try substituting “hold the cup carefully” for “don’t spill your juice”), spanking and slapping are still pretty popular.

Moms and dads who spank do so because they believe it’s effective, and research actually shows that it is — in the short-term. A child reaching for a tempting object will stop if he gets swatted. “It does work in the immediate moment, but beyond that, in most cases, it’s very ineffective,” says George Holden, the study’s author and a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University. “The most common long-term consequence is that children learn to use aggression.”

Case in point: one mother in the study hit her toddler after the toddler either hit or kicked the mother, admonishing, “This is to help you remember not to hit your mother.”

“The irony is just amazing,” says Holden.

Read the full story.

# # #