Physically Punishing Your Child Could Lead to Emotional Problems

Using non-abusive physical punishment as a parenting tool on your kids may still lead to serious mental and emotional problems when they become adults, WebMD reported July 2.

Up to 7 percent of mental disorders among adults who were physically punished as children — through slapping, spanking, or other actions — could be directly related to their corporal punishment as children, Canadian researchers say. “It is really important to make sure that what you are doing is appropriate for that age or development level,” says study co-author Tracie O. Afifi, Ph.D., of the University of Manitoba.

It’s more healthy to use positive reinforcement to bolster good behaviors than to punish bad behaviors, Afifi says. Scaling your punishments to fit your child’s age is important too, says Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.

When giving time-outs, for instance, a “a good rule of thumb is one minute for every year of age.” Also, it’s important that parents not send children to their rooms or engage or negotiate with their child while he or she in time-out, Adesman says.

The study appears in the August 2012 issue of the the journal Pediatrics.

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