Spanking Your Kids Likely Does More Harm Than Good—Here Are 7 Things To Try Instead

a woman wearing a purple shirt: Stocksy-Spanking Your KidsSpanking may be on the decline in America, but it’s far from obsolete. JAMA Pediatrics reports that 15 percent fewer parents spanked their kids in 2017 than they did in 1993, but many moms, dads, and caregivers continue to believe that children should be spanked. (I was! Were you?!?) If you’re someone who believes in spanking your kids, you’re likely not alone. But a new analysis of over 69 studies on the subject makes a compelling argument for putting this corporal punishment behind you.

The review, published this past June in the journal Lancet, draws strong conclusions around a concept that has long been somewhat murky. Researchers found that spanking did not improve the behavior of those being spanked overall. Instead, it exacerbated bad behavior, leading to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, and disruptive behavior. And the more children received spankings, the more they acted out. In other words, spanking had the opposite of its intended effect.

When most parents talk about effective disciplinary measures, “they mean things that improve children’s behavior over time,” says Joan Durrant, PhD, a child clinical psychologist and one of the review’s co-authors. “But what we see with physical punishment, and spanking specifically, [are] increases in the behaviors we don’t want. If parents think it’s improving behavior, that’s just not the case.”

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