Parenting • Jun 19, 2012

Striking a Child is Never OK

I saw a story recently out of California where a step-father was caught on tape beating his child, allegedly, for not catching a baseball. While I wasn’t there and have no idea what the circumstances are, I can say as a pediatric psychologist, that the circumstances are irrelevant. What I saw in this video is not OK. Ever.

A recently published review of over 20 years of research on the long-term effects of corporal punishment, such as spanking, discovered that this type of discipline is linked to increased children’s aggression –and in fact, has NO positive effects on their future behavior.  In other words, not only is spanking not effective, but it is harmful for children’s development in the long run. Despite this, a recent poll indicated that in some regions of the country, up to 31% of parents are “very likely” to spank their children. Behavior change can be difficult, for parents as well as children.

So, I wonder what would a child learn from a situation like this?  I speculate that this would be an effective way to teach a child to become aggressive when angry, to feel like his self-worth is based on his athletic performance, to avoid spending time with his stepfather, and to hate baseball.

Being a parent is a 24/7 job and be can be very stressful, particularly when a child is in a challenging developmental phase.  If you feel like your frustration with your child is getting the best of you, you can contact the St. Louis Crisis Nursery 24-Hour Helpline at  314-768-3201 –OR- 314-338-2200  http://www.crisisnurserykids.org/.

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