According to a new study of more than 2,500 toddlers from low-income families, spanking may have detrimental effects on behavior and mental development.
I guess they didn’t bother studying kids from high-income families because they knew they’d already have behavioral problems. (What? It’s true! See: Gossip Girl, 90210 and The O.C.)
Actually, they focused on children from low-income families because prior research suggested that spanking is more common among them. This may be because of the added stresses of parenting in a low-income situation, or because of a “cultural contagion” of behaviors among people. For example, in some families this study examined, a grandmother would spank a child, or neighbors would encourage physical discipline, she said.
About one-third of the 1-year-olds, and about half of the 2- and 3-year-olds, had been spanked in the previous week, according to mothers’ self-reporting to the researchers. At all three ages, African-American children were spanked significantly more frequently than those from white and Mexican-American families, and verbally punished more than the other children at ages 2 and 3, the study said.
“We’re talking about infants and toddlers, and I think that just, cognitively, they just don’t understand enough about right or wrong or punishment to benefit from being spanked,” said Lisa Berlin, the study’s lead author and research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.
Berlin and colleagues found that children who were spanked as one-year-olds tended to behave more aggressively at age 2, and did not perform as well as other children on a test measuring thinking skills at age 3. The study is published in the journal Child Development.
No word on what biting a toddler’s cheek will do, which is what MY mom did to me when I threw a tantrum at Sears. However, it may explain why I get VERY nervous any time mom says she’s hungry.
Although these “detrimental effects” were somewhat small, the study is just the latest of many supporting psychologists’ advice against spanking. Still, some experts say spanking has a time and place. Especially the marital bedroom after the kids have gone to sleep.
*AHEM* Perhaps I’ve said too much.