U.S. Parents Are Spanking Their Kids Less Today, Study Finds

Posted: Nov 14 2016, 1:33pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 14 2016, 9:52pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

U.S. Parents are Spanking their Kids Less Today, Study Finds
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Across all socioeconomic groups, the rates of mothers who spank their kids have declined significantly over two decades.

Disciplining children with physical punishment like spanking and shoving has seemingly declined over the years. 

The latest research provides some evidence that U.S. mothers are spanking less these days than two decades ago. More specifically, spanking has decreased from 46 percent to 21 percent since 1988 while the percentage of mothers who believe that timeout is the better option has increased from 51 percent to 71 percent during that same time period. 

“Parents seem to be using more reasoning and nonphysical discipline strategies with children, which is in line with what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 1998,” said lead researcher Rebecca Ryan from Georgetown University in Washington.

“At all income and education levels, parents' attitudes toward physical punishment have changed over the last 20 years and, very likely, their behavior with their children.”

For centuries, spanking and other forms of physical punishments were the main disciplinary tools for parents in America until 1960s when parents realized that spanking is doing more harm than good and turned their attention towards other better options like timeouts which involves isolation to stop misbehavior. This nonphysical disciple can produce better results as long as parents use it correctly and focus on the positive aspect, too.

In the latest study, researchers reviewed data from national surveys regarding prevalence of spanking among the mothers of kindergarten-age children between 1988 and 2011. Researchers have found a major shift in the discipline of disciplining children. Across all the socioeconomic groups, the rate of mothers who reported using spanking declined over the course of the study while the rates of those who adopted nonphysical strategy called timeout has increased over time. 

The use of spanking is still more prevalent in low income families than richer ones. Nearly one-third of mother from low-income families were reported spanking their kindergarten-age children while mothers from richer families mostly preferred nonphysical strategies. 

“It is very good news that over the last 30 to 40 years, the percentage of parents endorsing physical discipline has declined while the percentage of parents reporting nonphysical discipline increased,” said Dr. Heidi Feldman, professor of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Stanford University.

“It is encouraging that this trend occurred across all socioeconomic groups.”  

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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