Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of child abuse and spanking. Please take care while reading.
Psychologist and TikTok creator Dr. Han Ren shared yet another reason to not spank kids.
Dr. Ren took to her TikTok recently to talk about a new study on spanking by researchers at Harvard.
The researchers looked at the brains — specifically the arousal levels in the prefrontal cortex — of 10- to 11-year-olds when the kids were shown faces with different expressions.
Fearful faces produced more arousal than neutral faces in all the children, but especially in the ones who had been spanked.
The researchers then compared this data to the brains of children who had experienced more severe patterns of child abuse and found that there wasn’t much difference between the brain activation of children who had been spanked and those who had been severely abused.
These results suggest that even mild spanking can lead to similar neurodevelopmental changes in the human brain, all of which is to say that spanking can negatively affect children’s development.
It also doesn’t work long term, according to research
This is in line with other studies that have shown that physically punishing children does not work in the long term and can actually end up making children more aggressive, according to the American Psychological Association.
Upon presenting their findings, the Harvard researchers stated, “We’re hopeful that this finding may encourage families not to use this strategy.”
Echoing these sentiments, Dr. Ren also added that spanking “just doesn’t work.”
“It teaches kids to avoid the caregiver when they’re doing the ‘bad’ behavior, and it strains the relationship as well,” she explained.
“There [are] so many better ways to change your child’s behavior,” she concluded.
WebMD outlines plenty of alternatives to spanking, including ignoring bad behavior, time-outs, and compassion and understanding.
They also suggest that positive reinforcement is just as important as proper punishment practices. Praising kids when they do something positive will have them seeking further approval in future situations.
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