Fewer Parents Report Using Spanking as a Punishment

posted: 11/28/16
by: Katie Morton
Mother talking with her son
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Mother talking with her son

Being a parent is tough and finding ways to discipline your children can be a tightrope walk: kids crave boundaries and guidelines, yet finding the right balance of parental understanding and discipline can be challenging.

In a recent study published by the journal Pediatrics, spanking kids as a disciplinary technique is on the decline, as parents find different ways to discipline their children. In 1988, 46% of mothers in middle-class families reported using spanking to discipline their children. However, that number dropped to only 21% by 2011, while the number of parents putting their children in time-out rose from 41% to 81%, respectively.

The decline of the use of physical punishment can likely be attributed to the numerous studies that conclude that spanking isn't efficient as a form of discipline, and can, in fact, have adverse effects on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that spanking can be associated with increased aggressive behavior and have a negative impact on the parent-child relationship, among other issues.

While the findings are promising, some researchers acknowledge that the study itself may be flawed, as it's based on self-reporting. Given the negative stigma associated with physical punishment (due, in part, to the AAP's guidelines and many other studies outlining the negative impacts of spanking), researchers question whether parents are actually spanking their kids less or if they simply don't want to admit to it.