Many people know that physical punishment, as a form of discipline, is actually effective. It stops the unwanted behavior temporarily. But it is simply not worth doing.
There are many unwanted effects to spanking as a form of discipline:
- It’s usually done in anger and on impulse, so it is not well controlled.
- People don’t want to hurt their children, so it’s inconsistent.
- Hurting someone else deliberately is disrespectful, and can lower self-esteem.
- It teaches children to be aggressive by modeling. It doesn’t make much sense to spank a child because the child hit someone else.
- It isn’t educational, as other forms of discipline can be.
- It replaces other effective forms of management.
- It isn’t useful for older children.
- Research has shown that children who have been spanked have an increased chance for alcoholism, depression, and spousal and child abuse.
For physicians: As part of the well visit in the early years, remember to ask your families what forms of discipline they use. If they mention spanking or hitting, then please share this information with them.
Based on a lecture by Barbara Howard, MD