Physical Punishments May Lead to Mental Health Problems

Wednesday July 4, 2012

By Amy Morin

A new study recently published in Pediatrics links physical punishments during childhood to mental illness in adults. The study reports that hitting, pushing, and other forms of physical punishment don't have to be abusive in order to cause emotional damage.

The study links several different mental health problems to spanking, including substance abuse problems, personality disorders, and mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders.

The study concludes that parents should not use physical forms of discipline on children for any reason and encourages pediatricians to educate parents on the dangers of physical punishments.

The study also notes that over half of Americans report using physical forms of discipline with their children. This begs the question, why do so many parents spank their children?

Sometimes it is a lack of knowledge about effective discipline strategies. A lot of parents report that discipline strategies such as time out or reward systems just don't work.

At other times, people say, "I was hit as a kid and I turned out fine," and justify spanking their child with their reasoning.

Lack of ability to control their own emotions causes some parents to resort to physical punishments. They hit their kids out of frustration or anger.

And lastly, some people worry that kids will become spoiled if they aren't "taught a lesson." However, there's a lot of research that shows that spoiling kids has nothing to do with physical punishments.

It's important to acknowledge the difference between consequences and punishments. Education on parenting issues can teach parents how to make discipline strategies more effective and how to use positive and negative consequences to address behavioral issues.

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