Spare the rod, spoil the child? Nope, quite the opposite

Smacking children slows their cognitive development

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Hitting your child to punish them lowers their chance of doing well in school and means they are more likely to grow up and commit a crime, according to a new book.

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It is also more likely to “chip away” at the bond between the parent and child.

“Research shows that spanking corrects misbehaviour,” says the book’s author, Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Lab and professor at the University of New Hampshire. “But it also shows that spanking does not work better than other modes of correction, such as time out, explaining, and depriving a child of privileges.”

Stauss’ findings came from the International Parenting Study, which surveyed 11,408 university students from 15 different counties between 2006 and 2010.

Nearly two thirds of the students questioned were smacked by their parents at the age of 10.

“The research clearly shows that the gains from spanking come at a big cost,” says Strauss. “These include weakening the tie between children and parents and increasing the probability that the child will hit other children and their parents, and as adults, hit a dating or marital partner.

“Spanking also slows down mental development and lowers the probability of a child doing well in school,” he says.

This research comes at a time when a controversial book encouraging parents to spank their children is for sale on Amazon in America. The book, To Train Up A Child, compares child rearing to raising a dog or a horse. It says that a 7-month-old baby should be hit with a stick if it pulls on its mothers’ hair while breastfeeding.

But Stauss’ research goes against the controversial book’s claims. “If you [want to] increase your child’s chances for a happy and healthful life, including a good job and a violence-free marriage, the evidence … suggests it would be promising yourself to never spank,” he says.

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