The role of discipline is to teach children what they need to know to become adults. Spanking, harsh tones and time outs teach children the wrong things and have been shown to be harmful.

What We Know

In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement against corporal punishment [physical punishment] and concluded: “Aversive disciplinary strategies, including all forms of corporal punishment and yelling at or shaming children, are minimally effective in the short-term and not effective in the long-term. With new evidence, researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk of negative behavior.”

  • Research has shown that spanking alone is associated with adverse outcomes, and these outcomes are like those in children who experienced physical abuse. This means that even if you only spank your child once a month or less, the potential long term effect is like you physically abused them.
  • A 2016 meta-analysis showed that current research does not support any benefit from physical punishment in the long-term. A meta-analysis is a type of study that analyzes the data from all the studies ever done on a topic.
  • A longitudinal study revealed spanking more than twice a month at the age of three increased the child’s aggression by age 5 and continued up to age 9.
  • Children who are spanked exhibited lower vocabulary scores than peers who were not spanked.
  • Using harsh tones to communicate disapproval of your child’s actions indirectly teaches how to convey anger/frustration [not in a good way] and negatively impacts their future mental health.
  • The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2001, determined emotional abuse is the most significant predictor of mental illness.

What Can You Do

  • Relate: Children learn through the context of a relationship.
  • Reflect: Remember your own experiences as a child and how it feels to be yelled at, spanked or ignored.
  • Time-In:  Rather than sitting your child aside in a time out, have them sit close by and allow them to express their feelings and cool down.
  • Demonstrate: When your child behaves inappropriately, your role is to teach the desired behavior.
  • Listen/Communicate: Allow your child to provide reasons for their actions.
  • Attention: Children crave a parent’s presence.
  • Preparation for challenges: Have discussions prior to the difficult experiences.