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It’s Official: Spanking Is A Totally Counterproductive Way To Discipline Kids

There are plenty of things your parents did back in the day that appeal to you now that you’re in the driver’s seat — swearing in front of your kids, threatening to turn this damn car around, and generally embarrassing them in front of their friends. But according to a 50-year study, there’s one aspect of old school parenting that is in desperate need of updating and that’s spanking. Yes, even though you and your butt turned out just fine.

The extensive research of 160,927 children looked at specifically whether or not they were spanked, which was defined as an “open-handed hit on the behind or extremities,” and not what parents considered physical abuse. While most spankers citing doing it as a disciplinary action to teach their kid a lesson, their kids behaved worse overtime across the board. Children who were spanked experienced 13 out of 17 detrimental behavioral outcomes analyzed by the study, including mental health problems, cognitive difficulties, aggression, and antisocial tendencies. As much as you want to teach them a lesson, you don’t want that lesson to be that they’re a sociopath.

Flickr / Lauren

Getting spanked was directly linked with supporting physical punishment in their children later in life, which might be how this cycle started in the first place. But in the words of every infomercial you’ve ever hated, there’s gotta be a better way. In their book No Drama Discipline, Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson recommend having a plan in place for when your kid misbehaves, so whatever method you chose it’s more proactive (losing privileges) than reactive (spanking). Don’t worry, you’ll find other ways to engage in tough love that are actually for their own good, like crushing them at Monopoly.