New reports from the American Association of Pediatricians has found that children who are spanked by parents are more likely to develop aggressive behaviors and are at a much higher risk of mental health disorders. The AAP also advises to avoid “verbal abuse” towards a child because it could cause “humiliation and shame.”
“Aversive disciplinary strategies, including all forms of corporal punishment and yelling at or shaming children, are minimally effective in the short-term and not effective in the long-term. Researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk of negative behavioral, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children,” said the AAP.
Although the American Association of Pediatricians advised against spanking a child back in a 1998 policy statement, the AAP has further gone into details about the negative effects that come from the forceful punishment.
“The purpose of discipline is to teach children good behavior and support normal child development. Effective discipline does so without the use of corporal punishment or verbal shaming,” says AAP.
A 2014 study found the effects of corporal punishment were “transient” and within 10 minutes of being punished 73% of children surveyed had “resumed the same behavior for which they had been punished”.
“Children who experience repeated use of corporal punishment tend to develop more aggressive behaviors, increased aggression in school, and an increased risk of mental health disorders and cognitive problems,” said Dr Robert D Sege, lead author of the AAP statement.
“In cases where warm parenting practices occurred alongside corporal punishment, the link between harsh discipline and adolescent conduct disorder and depression remained.”
The AAP suggests that in replace of spanking, parents are advised to use “positive reinforcement as a primary means of teaching acceptable behavior”.
“For example, parents can learn that young children crave attention, and telling a child, ‘I love it when you …’ is an easy means of reinforcing desired behavior,” recommends the association.
When a child breaks rules the AAP advises parents to use the “time-out” method. “One minute per year of age is a good rule of thumb,” says the American Association of Pediatricians.