Spanking Research

Americans are currently split 50/50 on the issue of spanking. Although Dr. Phil is opposed to spanking, he believes you should look at some of the results of 62 years worth of research and decide for yourself.

The Pros

  • Spanking can be effective on a short-term basis in getting children to change any negative behaviors that prompted the spanking.

  • Spanking has been shown to be most effective in 2- to 6-year-olds when used in conjunction with milder disciplinary methods, such as reasoning and time-outs.

  • In a study, mothers who combined reasoning with negative consequences (such as spanking) had the most success in changing negative behaviors.

    The Cons
  • Long-term consequences of spanking can include increased aggressiveness, antisocial behavior, and delinquency.

  • Weaker associations for spanking such as a failure to learn right from wrong, subsequent criminal behavior, mental illness, and child or spouse abuse as adults, have also been suggested.

  • Physical punishment can send mixed messages to a child and reinforce aggressive behavior. When parents model aggressive behaviors by spanking, they reinforce the idea that physical aggression is the way to get what you want.

  • Spanking is associated with a poorer relationship between the parent and child. Children who were spanked feel less attached to their parents and less trusting of them. The more the child was spanked, the less close the parent/child relationship.

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