Does spanking create dumber, more aggressive kids?

A new study from the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University found that children who are spanked as 1-year-olds are more likely to behave aggressively and did worse on cognitive tests as toddlers than children who were not spanked.

HealthDay News reports:

” ‘Age 1 is a key time for establishing the quality of the parenting and the relationship between parent and the child,’ said study author Lisa J. Berlin, a research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. ‘Spanking at age 1 reflects a negative dynamic, and increases children’s aggression at age 2.’ “

The study, which is published in the September/October issue of “Child Development” examined data on 2,500 white, Mexican American and black children from low-income families. The data included parents’ reports about their children’s behavior, their use of spanking, as well as home visits by trained observers to document parent-child interactions at ages 1, 2 and 3.

“About one-third of mothers of 1-year-olds reported they or someone in their household had spanked their child in the last week, while about half of the mothers of 2- and 3-year-olds reported that their child had been spanked.”

“The average number of spankings for 1-year-olds was 2.6 per week, while the average for 2-year-olds was nearly three.”

“The study found that children who were spanked at age 1 had more aggressive behaviors at age 2 and performed worse on measures of thinking abilities at age 3.”

“Being spanked at age 2, however, did not predict more aggressive behaviors at age 3, possibly because the spanking had begun at age 1 and by age 2 the kids were already more aggressive, Berlin said.”

Apparently just scolding your kids doesn’t increase their risk of bad behavior, as long as the mother is generally attentive and supportive.

In a related story ABC News examined how being raised by abusive parents affects your parenting. According to ABC News, studies show that one in three people who were abused as children will grow up to become an abuser.

“For more than a month last year, ABC News followed three parents in Florida who are trying to overcome those odds. Cameras rolled as the parents struggled to deal with their kids monster tantrums and meltdowns that could test anyone’s patience. The families volunteered for a mentoring program for at-risk parents called Parent Aide, run by the Toledo, Ohio-based National Exchange Club Foundation.”

PrimeTime on ABC showed the footage last night of how the families were handling their children’s discipline and how they could do a better job. The online story also reviews what the parents were doing wrong and how else they could have handled the situations.

In another related story on ABC News, a doctor offered 10 TIPS TO DEAL WITH DEFIANT CHILDREN, and I found them very interesting. Obviously they don’t want you spanking a child or even using time-outs repeatedly. The big thing this doctor recommends is just recognizing good behavior from your kids and constantly pointing it out.

Dr. Alan Kazdin of Yale University Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, says in the ABC News story:

“Positive attention to good behavior can be a smile, a touch or praise — or all three — but do it right away and be specific about what it was the child did right every time. ‘Great job taking your dishes to the sink!’ works better than ‘Great job!’

I’m actually going to try his tips and email them to Michael. I like the idea of telling them frequently when they are good (I do it now but probably not enough!).

What do you think of each of these stories?

Do you buy that spanking at 1 or under will increase the child’s chances of behaving badly and doing poorly on cognitive tests? Did you notice how often these little 1-year-olds were getting spanked?

Do you spank? How young did you start spanking? How often do you spank?

Do you believe that abused children are more likely to abuse?

What did you think of the coping tips offered in the second story, as well as the 10 tips offered by the Yale professor?

202 comments Add your comment

Photius

September 17th, 2009
12:16 pm

From what I see of children today out in public, there should be more spankings. I agree with Dr. Horrible and disagree with new age, reinvent the wheel parents.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
12:20 pm

@ Theresa….”I think you guys are reading too much into my grouping of stories — I say related because they are about discipline — and give alternatives to spanking in general.” I have to call you out on that statement.

The only way your second “related story” relates to discipline is that they used the word discipline. This was a piece about how people refrain (or fail to) from abusing kids in the name of discipline. That was as far of a stretch as you could have made and I think you should have seen that. Parents who spank responsibly should be offended by you including that as a “related story”.

JJ

September 17th, 2009
12:23 pm

There is a difference between hitting a child, and disclipining a child, and abusing a child.

Unfortunately there are too many pansy parents out there..I didn’t “hit” my child, but I sure got her attention with a swat on the butt…..or the leg just below the butt……

And as for the school with the paddle and paddling the kids then making them face their peers I’M ALL FOR THAT!! Public humiliation works wonders……..especially for the Middle School kids.

Photius

September 17th, 2009
12:28 pm

JJ – yes, flog them in school. No problem with it. It worked when we grew up but geeee, all this feel good pansy mommy/daddy crap today just ain’t cutting the mustard as is evident by the generation they have raised. Paddle them in school!

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
12:38 pm

hey JJ…let’s, for the sake of argument, make anassumption that you met a kid who was really well adjusted, respectful, and well behaved who happened to have parents opposed to spanking. Would those parents still be considered “pansies” to you?

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
12:47 pm

@ doc Horrible, and do not ASSume that us non-spankers are not disciplining our children. I have children and believe me they are disciplined — without hitting them, imagine that!

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
12:49 pm

Discipline means to TEACH.

I am really shocked that there are actual educators on this blog page that ASSume, even with all the best practices data out there that says spanking is detrimental, they still assume that this is a good method to raise children

AMAZING

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
12:49 pm

The only difference is semantics JJ.. Hitting is hitting is hitting. Period

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
12:54 pm

It would stand to reason that if you hit a kid – and I mean spank, pop, slap and use this even as a last resort – that the child cannot internalize the reason why his behavior is instigating this behavior from the adult. The child therefore cannot self-correct or self-internalize. I believe the child’s inate ability to understand critical thinking about social mores are ruined when they are spanked. It teaches them that hitting is used by the adult in the family to solve a problem. Same goes if a child is brought up in an environment of domestic abuse and witnesses this. He sees the adults solving the problem with hitting, which in turn, leads him to make him more likely to hit when he/she becomes an adult. It’s logic people, not rocket science.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
12:56 pm

@MJG and JJ…..so here’s a question…if corporal punishment is such a panacea for habitual rule breakers…why should we ever stop? Why is it good for a kid, but not an adult? Of course, pain is an essential element to corporal punishment, so we would have to adjust the pain accordingly as we grow up and our tolerance to pain becomes greater. So given that, why shouldn’t we, as parents who administer corporate punishment as a tool to correct behavior, be willing to subject ourselves to that same form of punishment. Too many points on your driver’s license, maybe the judge should sentence us to some painful, yet safely and professionally administered electric shocks? I understand GA is undergoing a big drought…so for those people who habitually water their lawns in defiance of the restrictions…maybe a good waterboarding is called for (very scary, but really not very dangerous). And in the spirit of JJ’s thoughts, we could do this in the very lawn the offense occurred while requiring all the neighbors to look on, because, after all “Public humiliation works wonders”.

All I’m really getting at here is that there seems to be some thoughts being voiced with the bravery of being out of range. If you’re willing to administer corporal punishment, isn’t it a little hypocritical to not be willing to subject yourself to it?

lakerat

September 17th, 2009
12:58 pm

As many of the regulars know MJG and I disagree on many points – but I am squarely in her corner on this issue (did I really just type that?) -

And, jack5656, you should NEVER suggest in ANY analogy that a lady “bend over” – that can be misconstrued in so many different ways, but I digress.

@KidsRpeople2, please tell us to what school system you refer so that we can know if our kids here in GA are subject to that, or if we need to make sure we never move to the area that is the cause of your consternation.

Finally, Theresa did blur the lines somewhat when talking about spanking vs abuse – from reading Retirednurse/mom responses she has really blurred the lines, but that is her perrogative, though not necessarily relevant to the original intent of the blog topic. I do agree with her, however, that abuse is always wrong!

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
1:12 pm

going back to the original article… there are other studies that show that spanking effects cognitive development, which then one could surmise leads to dumber children. To make folks happy, I will start linking ‘em up.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
1:13 pm

@Lakerat….am I the only one whose parents told had them bend over to take their spanking? If YOUR thought was anything other than that…I dare say that says more about what’s going on in your head than mine.

Would it have been better to have the hypothetical banker tell MJG to go “pick her switch”? The point I was making is that humiliation (bend over, pick your switch, have it administered in public), along with pain, is an essential part of the discipline lesson and that I don’t think most are too keen on that for themselves, but it seems to be a fine sentence for a child.

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
1:14 pm

jack – great post

Let’s start here from the University of New Hampshire that has studied this issue extensively:
http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/CP-Empirical.htm

Dr. Horrible

September 17th, 2009
1:15 pm

@Retired nurse/mom

You equate spanking with child abuse and you are wrong. There is a definitive line between the two that your closed mind does not seem to be able to comprehend. Perhaps you were abused as a child?

lakerat

September 17th, 2009
1:16 pm

Retired nurse/mom – If you have nothing constructive to contribute to the conversation then please leave.

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
1:18 pm

@Doc, no apparently, you have your own set of issues that ignores and excuses that hitting or a.k.a. spanking is a bad thing. Were you hit as a child? I can admit I was. It was very very acceptable back then. I also went to a school where they hit the kids. Paddle, pop, whatever you want to call it. It was wrong then, it is wrong now.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
1:18 pm

@ Theresa….regardless of my earlier criticism for your “related topics” link…i really do think this was a worthy and good blog topic! Good job!

Captain Hammer

September 17th, 2009
1:23 pm

No, spanking a child does not make them dumb. If that were true most of us would be retarded.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
1:27 pm

@ CaptainHammer…that was GOLD! That cracked me up, mostly for how true and insightful it was! I got a ton of spankings…I don’t think I’m stupid (although MJG, JJ, and Lakerat may want to debate that!)

Dr. Horrible

September 17th, 2009
1:27 pm

@Captain Hammer

FINALLY…..somebody gets the meaning of my name…awesome.

@Retired nurse/mom: Who among us over the age of 30 wasn’t spanked as a child? To each their own I will do what works for me and mine and you do the same and we’ll just agree to disagree….how’s that?

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
1:28 pm

Enter your comments here

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
1:30 pm

@ Doc horrible – dude, whatever! – I am not telling you what to do whatsoever, but please do read the studies, many of them. They are interesting and informative.

Dr. Horrible

September 17th, 2009
1:34 pm

@Retired nurse/mom

You want to fight over drinks sometime?

Captain Hammer

September 17th, 2009
1:39 pm

LOL….for those that don’t know you should google “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog”…..43 minutes of sheer entertainment…..and yes it is safe for work….for the most part.

Sug

September 17th, 2009
1:40 pm

I believe in an eye for an eye. I believe in corporal punishment. I believe that each and every one of us should be held accountable for our actions, and quit blaming others, or circumstances for our failures.

I believe that you are responsible for your actions, and that your actions have consequences. If you abuse the water restrictions, then you get your water cut off. Too many DUI’s and you get your license AND car taken away. Can’t get to work, that’s your problem, and you should have thought about that when you were drinking and decided to get in your car and drive, potentially harming others, or yourself.

I believe If you kill someone, you should be killed too. I believe if someone murders another, and is found guilty, that person should be taken out back and shot, right there and then. No more appeals, nothing, they just take you out back and shot you. Done.

Then my tax dollars aren’t paying for some loser to stay on death row and appeal his case 30+ years.

I also believe if we implemented that, crime would go down considerably.

I think all people who are here illegally should be rounded up and sent back to where they came from. If you want to be here, do it legally. I have no problem with anyone wanted to better themselves, but do it the correct way, and don’t come here and cry how we don’t speak your language.

And while I’m at it, I also believe that after the age of 65, you shouldn’t pay taxes. All the money you saved while working should be yours, and yours alone. The government taxed you while you were working.

BB

September 17th, 2009
1:53 pm

I have never been a biological mother but I did raise a nephew for a few years. The first (and only) time I spanked him he told me to “go ahead and hit me again”. I never spanked again. He did spend some time sitting on the end of his bed.

Kathy

September 17th, 2009
1:55 pm

aha, Let’s see..
Georgia schools spank,
we have an overwhelming prison population, drop out rates are high, and we are ranked….47 in SAT standings….

Hunter of MILF

September 17th, 2009
1:56 pm

Any Cougars here?

Retired nurse/mom

September 17th, 2009
2:16 pm

BB – I see you noted that usual defiance kids can have when faced with a spank. Believe me I too was a defiant one, and it never worked on me either.

motherjanegoose

September 17th, 2009
2:17 pm

nurse&mother

September 17th, 2009
2:22 pm

Ok, I haven’t read through all the posts yet, but so far I agree with Catlady (as usual).

JJ

September 17th, 2009
2:22 pm

Georgia schools spank? When did that start?

lakerat

September 17th, 2009
2:27 pm

Georgia schools spanked me once…it hurt.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
2:28 pm

@BB….that’s what I always wondered about when it came to corporal punishment. What is a parent to do when/if their child says “make me” when the parent tells them to come get their punishment? What would I do as a dad if after I spanked my kid for acting up in a restaurant he turned around and gave me a haymaker? Seems to me there are only three choices to make in that circumstance….concede defeat, have an all out brawl with my son to show him my ability to kick his ass is greater than his ability to kick mine (until the day comes that I can’t kick his ass), or figure out some other form of punishment that will control his behavior more than corporal punishment. I’ve decided to go straight to the latter of the three.

S&M Mistress

September 17th, 2009
2:31 pm

And just what is so wrong about getting spanked? HUH?

nurse&mother

September 17th, 2009
2:33 pm

I would like to add that while none of my child and developement classes condoned physical punishment, I still disagree. As we have all seen over time, many theories/ideas/methods change over time (be it in education, medicine, and societal norms). I would like to point out “today’s” youngest generation. They are so egocentric and think the world revoloves around them. Their parents for the most part have pampered them, withheld ANY punishment, and generally have made them feel like others should be blessed to be in their children’s presence. Yes, I know that is a little extreme, but not necessarily off the mark, IMHO.

While I don’t use physical punishment in the form of spanking often, when used correctly it can be a motivating tool for children.

Do some of you guys seriously try to reason with a 20 month old child? A little pop on the hand works nicely when the child persists with the negative behavior despite the parent telling him/her “no”.

nurse&mother

September 17th, 2009
2:34 pm

Hey lakerat, I bet you didn’t go it again either. lol

HB

September 17th, 2009
2:37 pm

JJ, not all Georgia schools spank. Georgia law allows individual systems to decide paddling policy. In some systems, it’s used a LOT. I would imagine there are some systems that technically allow it, but haven’t used it for years. That was the case in the small town where I grew up. The school board officially banned corporal punishment last year, but it had not been used at all in 5 or 6 years. The system next door, though, uses it regularly and one of their middle schools was reported as having 569 incidents of corporal punishment in 2007-08.

nurse&mother

September 17th, 2009
2:44 pm

Retired nurse/mom. I think you would sound more credible if you would compare apples to apples rather than apples to oranges. The rationale with spanking children is for behavior modification not to get even when one is angry. I don’t spank the children out of anger. I spank them to change a negative behavior. THAT is the reason we don’t hit our spouses.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
2:44 pm

@Nurse&mother…clear up a grey area for me…because I may or may not agree with you depending on the answer. When you advocate the pop on the hand…what is the intent? There are some pops that are intended to inflict pain in order to straighten out the child…there are also pops that don’t hurt at all but are very surprising and that shocks the kid into straightening out….some pops are intended to do both. I suppose there could also be pops with other intents…which is yours? In other words what’s the lessen?

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
2:45 pm

of course I meant what’s the “lesson”…my apologies to Michael earlier for being a spelling Nazi.

nurse&mother

September 17th, 2009
2:46 pm

BB- sounds like your nephew taught YOU a lesson. I bet he calls the shots now.

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
2:47 pm

So nurse and mother…If I’m not angry at my spouse but adminster corporate punishment on her to change her behavior, I’m in the clear?

Troll Alert...

September 17th, 2009
2:48 pm

There is a troll posting as lakerat (after the initial post by lakerat at 12:58pm, the other posts by “lakerat” are by the imposter/troll). And, it appears he/she is posting as other bloggers, too!

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
2:49 pm

jeez….extra apologies to Michael for being the spelling hypocrite I am today..self editing would make for “administer” and “corporal” punishment! Humbling to call b*llsh*t on myself!

nurse&mother

September 17th, 2009
2:50 pm

Jack my intent is to stop the behavior. I start out very light. If that doesn’t work then maybe a little sting (that does NOT make a mark, of course). Usually the shock pop works on the toddlers. Probably not so well on the school age.

I personally believe that it is helpful to incorporate several other methods of discipline like taking away priviledges and time out. I don’t think one method alone is as effective especially when the children get older.

Troll Alert...

September 17th, 2009
2:51 pm

…an imposter is posing as “lakerat” – the original post at 12:58 is by the real lakerat; any post by that moniker after that time – 2 other posts – are by the troll. Sorry folks, he / she likes to utilize my name for some reason – it goes back to last year!

Troll Alert...

September 17th, 2009
2:53 pm

I don’t think that even lakerat knows if it is really her or not. Hmm. Identity crisis much?

jack5656

September 17th, 2009
2:54 pm

@nurse&mother…sounds reasonable and responsible to me….And I didn’t think anyone could get along on this blog!