Parental discipline has been the focus of a number of studies, but are moms and dads telling the truth about how often they get physical with their kids?
The authors of a study who observed parents interacting with kids in 106 real-life public settings found that physical discipline may be more frequent than previously thought. Researchers watched acts of discipline between children age 3 to 5 and their caregivers. Of those, 23 percent of kids got some form of negative touch from parents when they didn’t do as told.
That negative touch was expressed as pinching, arm pulling, spanking and slapping.
“I was very surprised to see what many people consider a socially undesirable behavior done by nearly a quarter of the caregivers,” lead author Kathy Stansbury of Michigan State University said in a news release. “I have also seen hundreds of kids and their parents in a lab setting and never once witnessed any of this behavior.”
Also surprising was that fathers touched their kids more often while disciplining them than mothers did, and most of the time it was in a positive way—hugging, tickling and patting.
“When we think of Dad, we think of him being the disciplinarian, and Mom as nurturer, but that’s just not what we saw,” Stansbury said. “I do think that we are shifting as a society and fathers are becoming more involved in the daily mechanics of raising kids, and that’s a good thing for the kids and also a good thing for the dads.”
The researchers noted that overall, positive touch rather than negative touch got the children to obey faster, more often and with less fussing. Girls, especially, when touched in a negative way during discipline had a worse demeanor than did boys.
Do you think positive or negative touch works better for disciplining children? Let us know in the comments.
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Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal, and has gotten in a boxing ring. Email Jeannine | TakePart.com