Is spanking a child ever a positive result?

Is spanking a child ever a positive result? ...

Children being stricken as a punishment used to be common practice, but has seen significant increase in recent years for being aggressive and potentially resulting in poor outcomes. Despite research, however, a research in Child Development suggests that prolonged hand spanking might be beneficial in relatively short situations.

Spanking is a form of punishment parents often use to discourage bad behavior. It is a discipline tactic that many people are criticizing for being too similar to or a form of physical abuse. Specifically, previous studies have utilized between-subject methods, which are vulnerable to individual differences. This study tries to select a one-off approach to remedy this problem, causing it to difficult to understand if it may be beneficial when applied appropriately.

Lansford et al. (2011, 2012) was re-analyzed, using data from the Child Development Project, a vast longitudinal study. Participants were recruited from Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, and Bloomington, Indiana. Measures were used annually when the children were 6,7 and 8 years old. The frequency of spanking the child was also measured for each year. A measure was also used to evaluate externalizing problems.

Despite the negative effects of spanking when using a between-subject design, there were no significant improvements when using a within-subject design. Moreover, when using a within-subject design, Pritsker found that spanking was inversely linked to externalizing difficulties, suggesting that children who are spanked as punishment may even have reduced externalizing difficulties.

The primary conclusion was that when applied with one hand (as opposed to an object) and with limited frequency, spanking appeared to decrease rather than increase externalizing problems. Despite the fact that when applied with an object or more frequently than once per month, the spanking seemed to decrease in size.

Pritsker said it is important to start using more research like this before making more substantive conclusions. Even if we could be perfectly certain in these results, there may be other results to consider. If future research does not support these results across outcomes and datasets, we should continue to be cautious about spanking.

While the initial assessment included statements of spanking from the mother, fathers or other caregivers might be participating in spanking.

Pritsker has stated that spanking has other negative effects than externalizing difficulties (most importantly, decreases in cognitive ability and internalizing problems). Consequently, even if spanking decreases externalizing problems, it might still have negative effects elsewhere.

The distinction between limited and more general spanking was also quite coarse, with confounding difficulties. Probably, parents in the restricted spanking group were able to vary on other parental variables from the general spanking group, and thats what drives the difference in effect. Hopefully future studies will be able to investigate this effect on a more detailed level.

The study, Spanking and externalizing difficulties, was published on October 20, 2021.

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