SCRD logoWhen parents severely discipline their children in a physical way during their childhood, the child later apparently has behavioral issues through adolescence. This has been claimed by two studies which were conducted by experts from Duke University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Auburn University and Indiana University. The findings examine how discipline alters during childhood and adolescence, and what family factors are responsible for those changes.

The data was apparently gathered from two longitudinal studies. One of almost 500 children was apparently followed from ages 5 to 16 and the other of more than about 250 children were supposedly pursued from ages 5 to 15. The experts apparently sought response to questions like how discipline supposedly changes during childhood and adolescence, and whether there are some issues in the family which may have brought about these changes.

It is found out that parents generally adjust the way they discipline their children which may be in response to their children’s increasing cognitive abilities, by using less physical discipline like spanking, slapping, hitting with an object over time. Physical discipline may become less developmentally proper as children grow older. But it is apparently seen that if the use of physical discipline by parents continues through childhood, then by the time a child reaches adolescence, they may have behavioral problems. If parents did not use much of physical discipline when their children were young, then kids may not have much of behavioral problems in their teens.

Jennifer E. Lansford, associate research professor with the Social Science Research Institute and Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, who led the study, commented, “Given these findings, mental health specialists and others who work with families should encourage parents to refrain from using physical discipline. They should also help parents—especially mothers who are at high risk of using harsh physical discipline because they have children whose behavior is challenging or they are dealing with a lot of stress in their environment—come up with alternate strategies for disciplining their children.”

Lansford remarked, “Low income, low educational attainment, single parenthood, family stress, and living in a dangerous neighborhood form a constellation of risk that increases the chances that parents will continue to use physical discipline with their children.”

Lansford further added that parents are also more likely to continue using physical discipline with children who behave aggressively.

This finding appears in the issue of Child Development.