Don't spank: Pediatricians warn parents of long-term harms

Don't spank: Pediatricians warn parents of long-term harms

The AAP announced today that it will update its 20-year-old "guidance for effective discipline", which stated that "corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects".

Effective discipline involves practicing empathy and "understanding how to treat your child in different stages in development to teach them how to cool down when things do get explosive", said Dr Vincent J. Palusci, a child abuse pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone.

Another study showed that the impact of corporal punishment was short lived - within 10 minutes of the punishment, 73% of children repeated the behavior for which they had originally been punished. Those include giving positive reinforcement, setting expectations and limits.

It will also be published online November 5 in Pediatrics.

We can do better."Verbal abuse and humiliation is also counterproductive, the pediatrics group said."Parents, other caregivers, and adults interacting with children and adolescents should not use corporal punishment (including hitting and spanking), either in anger or as a punishment for or effect of misbehavior, nor should they use any disciplinary strategy, including verbal abuse, that causes shame or humiliation", the group says in the updated guidelines."Within a few minutes, children are often back to their original behavior".

"The good news is, fewer parents support the use of spanking than they did in the past", Dr. Robert D. Sege, author of the policy statement and past member of the AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, said in a press release.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strengthened its advice against corporal punishment in update guidelines, saying it makes kids more aggressive and raises the risk of mental health issues.

In one study, 3-year-olds who were spanked more than twice a month were more aggressive by age 5.

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A 2016 analysis of multiple studies, for example, found that children do not benefit from spanking.

"What we talk to parents about is paying attention to your child's good behavior and paying less attention when they're misbehaving", Sege said.

Research shows spanking is an ineffective long-term punishment. "Parents who suffer from depression tended to use corporal punishment more frequently".

"One small report suggested that parents who themselves have a history of trauma are more likely to use corporal punishment than other parents".

He added, "The loving relationship between a child and their parents is the most important relationship that there is".

So what is the best way to discipline children?

Instead, the group advises mothers and fathers to use what it calls "healthy forms of discipline". Sege said there are other forms of discipline that parents can employ, no matter their child's age. Only 6 percent of the 787 USA pediatricians surveyed in 2016 approved of spanking, and only 2.5 percent actually expected it to do any good.

"Positive reinforcement for alternative behaviors is extremely effective", it says.

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