Physically punishing children can lead to mental health problems in later life, according to a new study. Distinguishing between “abuse” and “harsh physical punishment”, Canadian academic scrutinised data collected from almost 35,000 American adults. Their conclusion: “Harsh physical punishment in the absence of child maltreatment is associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders in a general population sample.”
But as some experts question the results of the study, would you still smack your child?
Results may not be as alarming as they seem
“The researchers based their conclusions on what adults remembered happening as children, which can be a bit tricky. (Someone who is depressed, for instance, perhaps remembers harsher physical punishment.),” pointed out Stephanie Hanes at The Christian Science Monitor. And the study did not take into account a new influential theory on the effects of spanking: “[Po] Bronson and [Ashley] Merryman looked at cross-ethnic and international research into spanking and found that when a culture views spanking as normal, then spanking does not cause later harm,” Hanes said.
Spanking also linked to higher income?
“The researchers also found what they described as ‘surprising finding’: that as an adult’s reported education and income levels increased, so did his or her likelihood of having experienced harsh physical punishment as a child,” reported The Los Angeles Times.
Alternatives to spanking
At the Mother Nature Network, Jenny Savedge provided a list of alternatives to physical punishment. These include using “teaching moments” rather than punishment: “Instead of meeting every misdeed with a punishment, try using the opportunity to teach your child the right choice they should have made.”
Looking for a new way to deal with tantrums? Check out the video below.