Effective Punishment: To Spank or Not to Spank?

“Wait until your daddy gets home!” was the go-to threat for all seven children in Carolyn Tevis’ home, according to an article on ZME Science. When mom Jenifer Jarvis and her husband discuss effective ways to discipline their daughter; both agree spanking is never an option, especially because their daughter gets upset at the mere mention of the word “spank.”

On the reality show Super Nanny, a frazzled mom who favors spanking is questioned about it, and offers the defense: “That’s the way I was brought up.”

To spank or not to spank?

80 percent of parents worldwide prefer to discipline their child, according to a 2014 UNICEF poll. Does this make it ok? Is there a line between abuse and discipline? Yes—a fine line.  Spanking (or the threat of) could be most effective when used as last resort, like in the case of the Jarvis family, or not at all.  According to Dr. Alan E. Kazdin, parenting expert and founder of Yale Parenting Center, moderate-to-severe physical punishment has negative consequences including affecting areas of academic performance. There is also a significant risk for non-compliance, defiance and other negative outcomes in the child who is spanked.

A 50-year study led by researchers at the University of Texas and the University of Michigan involving more than 160,000 children recently concluded the more a child is spanked, the more

detrimental the outcome, such as low moral internalization, child aggression, child anti-social behavior, child internalization and externalization, behavior problems, mental health problems, negative parent-child relationships, impaired cognitive ability, low self esteem, and greater adult support for physical punishment.

Why do we spank?

The standard belief is spanking and abuse is different from each other. But, are they? The mom who spanks admitted to Super Nanny that spanking her children makes her feel good and releases her stress. But the angrier she gets, the harder those spanks become. It’s a terrible cycle that can easily cross over into abuse. Talk show host psychologist Dr. Phil says spanking sends the message to your child that he is a bad kid, but will not teach him how to stop the unwanted behavior.  The best scenario is that the child alters his behavior to avoid being spanked, but does this teach anything long-term? More often than not, children become defiant, aggressive and anti-social, and susceptible to cognitive difficulties such as mental health issues later in life. There aren’t any positive outcomes to spanking, so let’s look for healthier disciplinary methods.


http://www.zmescience.com/science/psychology-science/spanking- kids-study/

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2016/04/27/50-year- study-finds- spanking-doesnt- work/

Journal of psychology study:




https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/good-thinking/201604/update- what-happens- when-you-

hit-your- kids/

Tags: why punishment doesn’t work, spanking, child discipline, defiance, Alan E. Kazdin,