#181- Spanking & Aggression

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Based on research by Shawna J. Lee, C. A. Taylor, I Altschul and J. C. Rice written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS

Can spanking harm children? Does it matter if mom or dad is the one spanking?

Psychologists studied the long-term use of spanking and subsequent aggressive behavior. They assessed mothers’ and fathers’ influences independently and together to determine if there were any differences whether mom or dad delivered the punishment. Participants included 900 families where both parents lived with the child when age 3. In 44% of families, either or both parents spanked their 3 year olds at least two times in the past month.

Spanked children displayed more aggression at age 5. Results revealed the more frequently children were spanked, regardless of whether mother, father, or both administered the punishment, the higher their odds of increased aggressive behavior two years later. While spanking by fathers is just as harmful to children as spanking by mothers, the greatest risk for child aggression was reported when both parents spanked more than twice in the prior month. This study illustrates that parents’ spanking reinforces and models the use of aggression.

Don’t spank. Teach. Use positive techniques: set firm rules, use calm voice, tell what to do, praise helpful acts, give positive choices. Model kindness, concern for others, kind actions, mutual problem solving, make amends.

Lee, S. J. Taylor, C. A., Altschul, I., & Rice, J. C. (2013). Parental spanking and subsequent risk for child aggression in father-involved families of young children. Children and youth services review, 35(9), 1476-1485.

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