Why Spanking Is Harmful

Most parents today know that the old saying, "Spare the rod, spoil the child" has been proved by researchers to be untrue at best, and even harmful. While spanking and other forms of physical punishment have been shown to teach children to use acts of aggression and violence to solve their own problems, many parents still turn to it when they don't know what else to do.

Rose Rudert, child development specialist for St. Louis Children's Hospital, says that parents who learn to step back and understand their child's behavior can avoid reaching the brink of raising a hand to their child. In the process, she says, they can win their child over to better behavior.

"The purpose of discipline is to achieve positive long-range results, as well as cooperation now," Rudert says. "Research has shown that children who experience a great deal of punishment become either rebellious or fearfully submissive."

So, what do you do instead? Rudert and the Child Development Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital offer these suggestions:

Use natural and logical consequences. When you don't eat your breakfast, you get hungry. When you forget your coat, you get cold. These are natural consequences and are great ways for children to learn the results of behavior. However, sometimes natural consequences are not practical, such as when they put children or others in danger. For example, adults cannot let children experience the natural consequences of playing in the street or throwing rocks at others.

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