Why You Shouldn’t Spank, According To Pediatrics

Why You Shouldn’t Spank, According To Pediatrics
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The American Academy of Pediatrics is coming out strongly against the use of spanking, calling for a ban on corporal punishment. It also now says that “harsh verbal discipline,” including shaming and humiliation, is harmful to a child’s developing brain.

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. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents be encouraged and assisted in the development of methods other than spanking for managing undesired behaviour”.

The new statement goes further, clearly outlining that spanking is more than simply limiting in its effectiveness. It actually is both ineffective and harmful:

Corporal punishment and harsh verbal abuse may cause a child to be fearful in the short term but does not improve behaviour over the long term and may cause more aggressive behaviours, according to the AAP. In one study, young children who were spanked more than twice a month at age 3 were more aggressive at age 5. Those same children at age 9 still exhibited negative behaviours and lower receptive vocabulary scores, according to the research.

Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes in the brain’s architecture. Harsh verbal abuse is also linked to mental health problems in preteens and adolescents.

“The good news is, fewer parents support the use of spanking than they did in the past,” said Dr. Robert D. Sege, a past member of AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect and an author of the policy statement. “Yet corporal punishment remains legal in many states, despite evidence that it harms kids—not only physically and mentally, but in how they perform at school and how they interact with other children.”

It is more effective to use discipline methods that are calm and controlled, such as by setting clear rules and expectations, being consistent and rewarding positive behaviour, the statement says.


  • Much as my first reaction is to go “OMG, we’re cottonwooling kids”, the more logical part of my brain questions how we are actually determining that these methods are ‘more effective’ ?

    No one (in their right mind) wants to hurt children, but pain has always been the most effective teacher, and if it prevents a greater danger, is a calm conversation about ‘how we don’t grab the pot off the stove’ a better deterrent or a slap to the hand when they try ?

    • No one (in their right mind) wants to hurt children, but pain has always been the most effective teacherThis frustrates me. The nanny-state mentality is not to do ANY harm, while ignoring there are benefits.

      They want only positive reinforcement, while ignoring that negative reinforcement is a more powerful learning method. Kids need to learn fast that there are definite repercussions, and a few stern words isn’t going to cut it.

      The alternative is them going back and grabbing that pot handle anyway, forgetting what the parent said. That’s not good for anyone.

    • Speaking to the logical part of your brain, we are actually determining what methods are more effective by doing studies. There are many scholarly, well-referenced articles just a Google away, for example: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/101/4/723

      I think this is the only way we can get close to an answer that based in truth and not just a gut feeling we might have that (for example) ‘pain has always been the most effective teacher’.

      Otherwise we risk making decisions to hurt children that are not based on sound reasoning, meaning we really are not in our right minds.

  • I find this subject interesting as you see people from all sorts of backgrounds argue the extremes. Appears like Ned Flanders parents vs the single mum on the doll that has 17 kids to multiple fathers.

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