Study: Spanking spurs violence
New study lays out a connection between spanking, aggression, anxiety and depression, so examine your actions carefully
There are few topics that spark controversial discussion more than politics. Here’s one, though: spanking children. If just the topic of spanking makes you tense, consider what a new study is saying about the act of spanking.
According to researchers, if you spank kids under the age of 1, you’ll have a hitting, screaming, tantrum-prone kid by the age of three. By age five, your kid will have fully identifiable depression and/or anxiety.
There’s a specific relationship between the two: Spanking at age 1 produces greater aggressive behavior, which eventually becomes depressive behavior. “Prior research had indicated that spanking was related to each type of child behavior ,” University of Wisconsin’s Andrea Gromoske told a reporter. "It turned out that spanking was directly related to future aggressive behaviors.”
Many people are pretty quick to nod their heads when asked whether video game violence leads to real violence, and the question of mental health looms large when the country grieves over events such as the Newtown, Conn. school shootings. In adults, depression and anxiety are widely known to manifest as anger and violence. But what if researchers hit the nail on the head… that the seed of violence of any kind by adults could be planted even earlier than we thought, through parental disciplinary action that molds a child’s psyche pretty much right after birth? Should we reshape our views on discipline in the name of anti-violence?
Like many controversial topics, the answer depends on whom you ask. The jury on spanking is – clearly – still out. In some studies, parental polling shows that nine out of 10 parents think a “good swat on the behind” is fine, while others polls show parents believe strongly in a “good hard spanking” every now and then. Officially, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no spanking, but a three-step approach to discipline instead.
Many child behavior experts suggest reinforcing positive behaviors and providing structure and routine. Time-outs for toddlers are highly recommended by several child psychologists. KidsHealth.org believes in communicating the connection between behavior and consequence at ages 3 through 8.
One big thing to remember: Kids are sponges and soak up everything from their immediate surroundings. That amazing ability to absorb a language so easily at a young age also lets them learn behaviors, both good and bad. As adults, our own behaviors are a teaching tool. Be aware that your actions – and interactions – make a strong, lasting impression on your children.
More on Healthy Living
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With Spanking, Nature and Nurture Create More Aggression