Spanking and other types of physical discipline is gaining less popularity now among American parents, a recent study suggests. Parents don't want to be the "the bad guy" in their kids' eyes and are looking for alternatives to make their children follow rules without hitting them. Compared to data from 30 years ago, parents now prefer using "time-outs" and talking to the child.
Low-Income Parents Are Still Likely To Spank Misbehaving Kids
Researchers Rebecca M. Ryan, Ariel Kalil, Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, and Christina Padilla found out that there was a decrease of physical discipline and an increase in enthusiasm for timeouts among mothers of all socioeconomic backgrounds, from 1988 to 2011. The percentage of middle-income mothers who used spanking as punishment decreased from 46 percent in 1988 to 21 percent in 2011. However, even with the decrease in numbers, low-income mothers continue to be more likely to spank their children than their wealthier counterparts. In 1988, around 50 percent of the poorest mothers endorsed physical punishment, but it has now went down to 30 percent in 2011.
Physical Punishment Leads To Multiple Behavioral Problems
Various studies from different researchers have outlined results of physical punishment. According to experts, physical punishment not only fails to work, but can also lead to antisocial behavior, aggression, mental health problems, and cognitive difficulties in children. Spanking is illegal in 42 countries, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly opposed it since 1998.
Parents Should Do Positive Discipline Whenever Possible
Heidi M. Feldman, who was on the AAP committee behind the 1998 policy statement opposing physical discipline, says that the recent findings should encourage the Academy to do just this: "If attitudes and practices have changed, then pediatricians and the public may be ready for advice on alternative discipline methods. A new generation of pediatricians, allies from related fields, and parent advocates must collaborate on a new statement."
According to Robert E. Larzelere, a professor of parenting at Oklahoma State University, "Opposing all negative consequences for all children all of the time is an unrealistic ideal for most parents-an ideal that has no adequate scientific support as an absolute for all children." Parents need to understand the options considered by parenting experts to employ disciplinary tactics.