[Viral Now] Spanking Can Lead To Distortion Of Personality, Study Finds
Spanking or smacking may have been experienced by many of us when we were children and maybe we now do this to our own kids. But how much d...
Spanking or smacking may have been experienced by many of us when we were children and maybe we now do this to our own kids. But how much does smacking really influence a child?
How many times have you heard or even said yourself: “It didn’t do me any harm?” Well, it may have had a bigger impact on you than you realised. A new study reveals that occasionally smacking your children has a bigger effect on their mental well-being and even their personalities leading into adulthood than originally thought.
A team of experts from the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Michigan recently published their research in the Journal of Family Psychology detailing the analysis of 50 years worth of research involving over 160,000 children. The data showed the consequences of smacking and how it affected children from childhood through to adulthood. “Spanking” in the study was defined as: “an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities.”
After careful analysis, the team found a similar pattern in those children that experienced smacking as a punishment. It showed the more you spank your children, the more likely they are to show higher levels of anti-social behaviour, mental health issues and aggression. Not only this but children are also more likely to experience signs of cognitive difficulties. In essence, spanking can distort the natural personality of the child.
“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognise as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviours,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas in Austin. “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”
It doesn’t end at childhood either; the effects transcend into adulthood too with those adults who experienced smacking as a child being more likely to suffer from mental issues. The chances of smacking their own children are also extremely high showing how the cycle of actions experienced at a young age are carried on to the next generation.
Spanking vs. Physical Abuse
While our society considers there to be a big difference between the occasional smack and severe physical abuse towards a child, the results of the study actually found there was a big similarity in the negative effects both actions have on children.
“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviours,” Gershoff said. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”
Breaking The Cycle
While spanking children as a form of punishment is frowned upon now more so than in older generations, it still continues. A 2013 poll showed that 81% of Americans considered smacking their child was an appropriate form of punishment.
However, the study authors hope the research will encourage parents to find more positive and non-punitive forms of discipline rather than physical punishment. While it can be hard to hide anger and frustration from a child, there are many ways discipline can be a more positive experience.
- The more positive attention and encouraging comments you give your child, the more they will respond to disapproval. Using a polite, respectful and positive tone will help them to respect you and teach them to do the same. Remember, negative discipline clearly shows its effects can damage a child and can continue through to adulthood so turn it around and show them through using more positive actions.
- Let them know how their behaviour has affected you – this allows the child to understand how their actions affect the feelings of others.
- Be aware of your language. Avoid sarcasm, threats, criticism, labelling, teasing and shouting.
- Allow them time to listen and respond.
- Listen to what they have to say and respond calmly.
The study clearly shows children are more aware of negatively charged situations than we think. Every time you react to them in an angry and physical way, they are learning that it is acceptable to treat others the same way or may cause feelings of inadequacy or low-self worth even if it’s not obvious at the time. Let’s stop the cycle.
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