Hugs Can’t Fix Anxiety Caused by Physical Punishment, Study Shows.

Hugs Can’t Fix Anxiety Caused by Physical Punishment, Study Shows. March 17, 2015

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

A new study by Duke University published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology shows that being loving after administering corporal punishment tends not to ease a child’s anxiety and may, in fact, make it worse.

A loving mom can’t overcome the anxiety and aggression caused by corporal punishment, and her otherwise warm demeanor may make it worse, according to research led by Duke University that was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology….[Researchers] interviewed more than 1,000 children and their mothers, from eight different countries, asking about levels of physical punishment and also about anxiety and aggressive behavior on the part of the children.

“…Generally, childhood anxiety actually gets worse when parents are very loving alongside using corporate punishment,” she wrote. The researchers aren’t sure why, but she said it might be “simply too confusing and unnerving for a child to be hit hard and loved warmly all in the same home.”  READ MORE

The article goes on to say, “It’s far more effective and less risky to use nonphysical discipline,” Janet Lansbury, a Los Angeles parent educator, told the Deseret News recently for a story on effective nonphysical discipline. “Discipline means ‘to teach,’ not ‘punishment.’ “

This is actually the position Lisa and I take in Parenting with Grace.  The ways most parents approach discipline just makes their work harder.  Good behavior doesn’t spontaneously erupt when bad behavior is sufficiently punished. If children are misbehaving, it is either because they don’t have the skills to behave properly in that context OR they don’t have the ability to access those skills in that situation for some reason.  In Parenting with Grace, we show parents how gentle, skill-building techniques enable them to both set higher standards and achieve those standards more easily than they would be able to with more physical/punitive approaches to discipline.

The bottom line is that the more parents use methods that respect the dignity of the child, the integrity of the parent-child relationship, and that teach skills as opposed to punishing missteps, the happier parents and children are, the healthier their family life will be, and the more well-behaved their children will ultimately become.


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