It used to be one of the most common forms of discipline back in the day, and even though some parents still use the spanking method to punish their children, experts warn of its potential lasting effects well into adulthood.
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics followed 700 men and women, ages 19 and 20 years old, who were spanked as children as a form of discipline. The study found that 1 in 5 people admitted to resorting to violence or acting violently in a relationship.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Bill Coffey, a therapist at the Council for Relationships. “You have to teach children there are consequences to their behavior. But hitting is not the consequence.”
It makes sense: If children grow up in a household where violence is the norm and the only form of discipline, it becomes a learned behavior, and that specific behavior is “OK” in their eyes. Bill also added, “That’s how they handle disappointment, frustration. That’s how they handle conflict.”
So how should parents discipline their kids? Bill suggests that “parents should handle discipline firmly, but without any violent physical contact, like removing a favorite toy or giving the child time out.”
One parent who was interviewed by reporters added, “Discipline is mental — it’s not really physical,” and another chimed in by saying, “Let the punishment fit the crime; but don’t overdo it.”
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