Friday, 18 January, 2019

Don't spank: Pediatricians warn parents of long-term harms

Pediatrics Group to Parents: No Spanking, Yelling Pediatricians Just Took a Hard Stance Against Spanking
Gustavo Carr | 06 November, 2018, 12:54

The academy recommends that pediatricians use office visits to help parents with age-appropriate strategies for handling their child's discipline.

Its policy statement called "Effective Discipline to Raise Health Children" calls for a ban on all corporal punishment.

The policy statement also cites a study from 2014 that found the effects of spanking were "transient". "The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents be encouraged and assisted in the development of methods other than spanking for managing undesired behaviour".

The academy's parenting website,, offers tips for disciplining younger and older children.

Comforting children by giving them hugs, praising good behaviour and ignoring the "little things" are among its recommendations for promoting good behaviour. "Your average 6-month-old child doesn't have the ability to learn the rules. We can do better".

In other words, holding Mom's or Dad's hand becomes the effect.

"One of the most important relationships we all have is the relationship between ourselves and our parents, and it makes sense to eliminate or limit fear and violence in that loving relationship", said Dr Robert D. Sege, a pediatrician at Tufts Medical Centre and the Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, and one of the authors of the statement.

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Harsh verbal punishment, such as shaming or humiliation, is also a threat to children, the AAP says in an updated policy statement. "As a result, children are more likely to grow up feeling secure and positive, knowing how to regulate their own behavior".

Yet Ryan, who has studied the use of corporal punishment, noted that only a correlational relationship has been found, not a causal one. "So it's hard for anybody to say spanking a child causes that child later on to be more aggressive, even though there are theories to suggest that could be why the correlation exists", Ryan said.

"Certainly you can get a child's attention, but it's not an effective strategy to teach right from wrong", Sege said. "If it were effective you should see the opposite".

The organization says, "Corporal punishment and harsh verbal abuse may cause a child to be fearful in the short term but does not improve behavior over the long term and may cause more aggressive behaviors".

For children younger than 1 who are misbehaving, the academy suggests picking them up and moving them somewhere else, distracting them or changing the subject.

The "interaction between spanking and misbehaviour occurs over time", the statement says.