Spanking kids deprives them of self-control skills

Melbourne: Children who are beaten up by their parents have far less self-control than those spared the trauma, a new study has found.

They also fall short when it comes to verbal communication, decision making, and resisting temptation.

Lead researcher Prof Kang Lee said “the ability to control behaviours, to switch from one task to another, and to plan actions” were all stronger in children raised under “positive parental control”.

“All these skills are essential for a child to succeed in school, as well as outside school, for example in sports, and of course in the future in many job situations,” quoted him as saying.

The study compared the performance of children at overseas schools practising physical and non-physical discipline.

While physical (or corporal) punishment is banned in Australian schools, Prof Lee said the principles also applied to home discipline.

“If parents mete out corporal punishment regularly for various transgressions, big and small ... then I think it is likely that the kids from such homes will have a long-term deficit in the ability to control behaviours,” said Lee, from the University of Toronto.

He warned that smacking could also backfire on parents, because some children could view it as “a reward, not a punishment”, because kids saw it as attention from mum or dad.

The study has been published in Social Development.


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