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5 Scientifically-Backed Reasons Why You Should Never Spank Your Child

The saying 'the child needs a good spanking' is so old and triggering that it shouldn't even be used as a scare tactic to get them to do something being asked of them. Studies over the last 20 years have shown that spanking increases aggression in young children. Furthermore, they do not change their undesirable behaviour [1].

While parents may think that imposing corporal punishment on their kids is the best way to discipline them, experts have pointed out that it does more harm than good. Also, spanking has been outlawed in 53 countries [2].

Reasons Why You Should Never Spank Your Child

Per the UN guidelines, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, "corporal punishment, which includes spanking, hitting, or otherwise is a violation of human rights." In addition, studies have pointed out the following observations [3]:

  • Parents' intended outcome when disciplining their children is more immediate or long-term compliance. However, spanking was associated with unintended negative outcomes.
  • In addition to not affecting obedience, spanking contributed to increased anti-social behaviour, aggression, mental health issues, and cognitive difficulties.

Reason 1: Spanking doesn't work

Time and again, psychologists, counsellors and experts working in fields related to children and childhood development have pointed out that spanking is not effective - in any way. However, it may be possible to achieve short-term results with physical punishment, including spanking. There is a simple reason for this effect: children are scared of being hit, and there is no lasting effect [4]. As children lack a developed reward/punishment mechanism (a result of a maturing brain), spanking doesn't work long-term. Hence, physical punishment cannot alter a child's behaviour [5].

Reason 2: Risk of developing mental health issues

According to experts, links between later mental health diagnoses and higher incidents of childhood spanking for disciplinary purposes have been found [6]. Although when you spank your child, your intention isn't to create long-term psychological problems, studies show that it can cause mental health issues such as severe anxiety, reduced self-esteem, depression [7] etc.

Reason 3: May lead to parental abuse

It is dangerous to begin corporal punishment in the first place because it can lead to the use of bigger weapons: your hand may become a fist, your folded newspaper may become a wooden spoon, and suddenly child abuse develops. In addition, when parents are accustomed to punishing their children, they set themselves up for punishing harder, primarily because they have not learned alternatives and are immediately triggered into punishment mode when their child misbehaves. Unfortunately, many parents cross the line from spanking to hitting, shaking, slapping, and other forms of child abuse [8][9].

Reason 4: Normalises the act of hitting

Although spanking may create fear in your child at the moment, it will not improve his or her behaviour in the long run. If you spank your child regularly, you normalise hitting, leading to aggressive behaviour and further conflict between you and your child. Children raised in families that use violent measures are more likely to use aggression to resolve conflicts as adults. Toxic stress affects kids' cognitive abilities in the long run [10]. When children are physically punished, they are more likely to use physical violence to resolve conflicts with their peers [11].

Reason 5: Devalues the role of a parent

The role of a parent is also devalued by spanking. Trust and respect are the hallmarks of authority figures, not fear. In essence, hitting devalues the relationship between a parent and a child. Corporal punishment creates a distance between the parent and the child [12]. Some children are forgivingly resilient and bounce back without negative effects on their minds or bodies. In contrast, it's hard for others to love the hand that hits them.

Read more about: children child abuse parenting
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