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Spanking Toddlers Stupid

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Ronda Kaysen: All you moms who cheered the man at Wal-Mart who slapped the screaming toddler, chew on this: Spanking toddlers doesn't make them more compliant. It actually makes them aggressive and dumb, a new study finds.

mom spanking toddler

The study looked at 2,500 low-income kids and found that 1-year-olds who were regularly spanked were more aggressive a year later and didn't do as well as their corporal-punishment-free peers on cognitive tests when they turned 3.

"We're talking about infants and toddlers, and I think that just, cognitively, they just don't understand enough about right or wrong or punishment to benefit from being spanked," Lisa Berlin, the study's lead author and research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, told CNN.

The study focused on low-income kids because parents in that demographic tend more often to use spanking as a form of discipline, researchers said. The study challenges the idea that the aggressive kids are the ones who are likely to be spanked -- and instead argues that it's the spanking that makes them aggressive. Fussier 1-year-olds, however, are more likely to be spanked than go-lucky ones.

"If the mother sees this fussiness as willful misbehavior and begins verbally punishing or spanking, rather than empathizing with the child, the child's behavior deteriorates into more tantrums and other frustrating behavior," said clinical psychologist Laura Markham.

Whether it's okay to spank older kids -- say, between the ages of 2 and 6 -- is still up for debate, with some researchers saying it's an effective method and others saying it just leads to more aggressive behavior down the road. Moms, what do you think: Is there ever a good age to spank your kids?

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19 comments so far | Post a comment now
missy September 18, 2009, 1:07 PM

I’m just appalled that any moms thought that was okay. Seriously??

Kris September 18, 2009, 1:19 PM

I wouldn’t usually take the bait on this topic but what they hey. How someone disciplines their child is their business and their right. Unless it is proven to be child abuse. You may conduct all the tests you want on LOW INCOME famillies and guess what. ALL Income families will in the end discipline their child they way they choose and by the way in most cases spanking is usually a last resort and it should be at an age of the parents choosing. I personally spanked my kids for the first time at about 2 1/2-3 years of age and it was a tap on the hand or a swat on their diaper or pull-up encased rear end.

Anonymous September 18, 2009, 3:07 PM

But at least it shuts them up

Jamericanspice September 18, 2009, 6:54 PM

I don’t see what this has to do with low income families.

Every family choses how they want to discipline their child/ren. I’ve had worse discipline than spanking. In those times, a spanking would have been better and over with in no time.

There are many different methods of discipline that works with each family.

Aftercancer September 18, 2009, 7:54 PM

For whatever reason spanking is one of those topics that makes people a little crazy. I will say that anyone who dared to lay a hand on my child in a public place would be charged with assault.

Spanking is a short term solution. It is immediately effective but like any other negative reinforcer it does not last and actually lessens in effectiveness over time.

kaela September 19, 2009, 6:13 PM

i start spank my kids like at the age of 3 soo.

Michele September 20, 2009, 2:03 PM

I personally don’t believe in spanking, but it seems a little far-fetched to suggest that spaking actually lowered their IQs. Umm, what about the genetic component? Maybe the parents that were doing the spanking weren’t the brightest bulbs on the tree…

ashley September 21, 2009, 8:03 AM

Hey guess what!!! My 2 brothers and I were spanked and not from a low income family!! My dad has been a lawyer for 25 years now and my mom a nutritionist. And none of us are dumb thank-you-very-much!!

Dorothy Stahlnecker September 21, 2009, 7:27 PM

Perhaps a light tap on the butt with a smile that says move it my sweetheart however, anything more I agree it creates and supports aggressiveness and we have enough of that going on in this worlds. You can’t turn the tv or radio on without hearing something horrific.

Dorothy from grammology

Anonymous September 21, 2009, 11:28 PM

I’ve seen aggressive children of parents with very progressive ideas, which included not believing in spanking. One was the terror of his daycare, a serious danger to the other children there.
Whichever way you can manage it, I believe it is important for kids to be made to understand that there are limits. It’s not OK to hurt others.

dj September 29, 2009, 9:32 PM

Yeah, I can see how hitting a child shuts them up. Not. Gee, mom, I’d like to be quiet, but you keep slapping me.

Samoys October 3, 2009, 9:10 AM

lot about you

A.G. October 13, 2009, 12:11 AM

i personally think that this article is crap… my mother disciplined me when i was a child (mind you only when i did something wrong) and i turned out just fine! hasen’t anyone every heard of the saying fat meats greasy?? there was this one time i went to mcdonald’s and this one lady brought her kids… one kid was fine with her food.. the other, lets just say he got all dramatic and silly because his mother didn’t get him chicken nuggets. he screamed and cried and said over and over “YOU DONT LOVE ME BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T GET ME NUGGETS”! it pissed me off because i wanted to turn around and tell the lady for christ sake chestize him! but obviously she did not hit the kid, she simply went back and got then nuggets.. then he stated screaming “WHY WON’T YOU LET ME EAT”?? by that time i wanted to slap the kid myself, she told him over and over be quiet, i didn’t do anything to you… since when does a grown parent compromise with a child? these days are soo backwards!

Mr. Mom October 15, 2009, 12:47 PM

Spanking will be abolished, it’s just a matter of when. I raised two boys. I was firm but never laid a hand on them. They are both doing just fine. Parents of the baby-boomer generation got spoiled by technology. Everything was focused on convenience and ease. Spanking increased by double between 1949 and 1999 because spanking is easy and convenient. It doesn’t take any time and gets immediate results. Stop being lazy. If you decide to have a child, don’t expect it to be easy and convenient. But don’t punish a child for just being a child. Most of what I see labeled as bad behavior is normal childhood behavior. It’s too bad that many parents believe that normal behavior deserves punishment.

Ref: Harriet L. MacMillan, “Slapping and spanking in childhood and its association with lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a general population sample.”
Harriet L. MacMillan, MD

meme February 11, 2010, 5:58 AM

Wow, these comments are stupid. I know some pretty stupid “non-spanked” people. Why did they research LOW income families?? Because they knew that it’d be more likely that the kids were more aggressive or stupid without spanking? I think so folks. Try your hand at writing again. I’m still not convinced. Oh and, I was spanked… and I have a degree ;)I’d say I’m one smart cookie.

Family Matters February 25, 2010, 9:10 PM

Actually, there IS no right and wrong. That’s why spanking parents do it out of some personal discomfort. If they start seeing their point of view as personal and their child’s as valid, their parenting will be oh, so different.

Gatlin June 9, 2010, 7:29 AM

KEYWORD: LOW INCOME These people tend to be under stress and these kids are seeing a whole spectrum of stressed out, burned out behaviors in low income families who take out their frustrations kicking the dog and their kids. “The study looked at 2,500 low-income kids and found that 1-year-olds” Another key factor: WHAT IS CONSIDERED SPANKING IN THE STUDY? Winding up and beating the heck out of the kid or a quick non-wind up swat on the hand or leg? Teens who were spanked between ages 2-6 performed better in almost every are than kids who weren’t…..

"da prof" October 12, 2010, 9:27 AM

I would make the “abuse” call on the basis of the severity of a spanking. A sound hand-spanking, even bare-bottom, should make a child cry freely, and once it does, you can and should stop. Belts and canes and even hairbrushes are for outer clothing (once a child becomes too modest to let you spank on the bare) and really by then you both should have agreed on a more grownup punishment.

It has been said that one should never spank a child in anger. But it is important that a child who provokes you to this point should understand that his or her behavior is provocative of this reaction, and that our actions have social consequences as well as physical ones (including deliberately testing mom or dad’s limits to see if that threatened spanking if you don’t stop is an empty threat.) Children do test this boundary, and in annoying ways. But while we can share our annoyance with the perpetrator, it is incumbent on us to spank dispassionately, that is just long enough and hard enough to elicit the required tears of remorse and shame.

Of course, spanking IS about shame, and those who are solicitous about children’s sense of self-worth rightly warn us not to spent too much time making our little ones feel any more ashamed of not coming up to snuff as grownups would than can be helped. Spankings should be rare and therefore the more memorable; they should be to drive home the really important lessons — “don’t run into the street” (vs. “always untie your shoe laces before taking your shoes off,” the subject of the last spanking this writer received as a child. Well, she DID say she’d spank me if I forgot again, so I suppose tshe felt she had to. But it seemed both mean and silly to me at the time, even though I have never once failed to untie my shoelaces before removing my shoes in the half-century since.)

And finally, we must always be aware that the nature of the shame of a “good old-fashioned bare-bottom spanking” is such that it is easily sexuialized in later life. This is not necessarily a bad thing if assimilated within the variety of pleasures of a robust love relationship with a like-minded mate, but it is better if the parent keeps it asexual and, again, switches to a different form of punishment to keep matters clear. “Too old to be spanked” is generally the onset of puberty but some children are precocious and it is probably less confusing to err on the side of caution. Not likely to be much of a problem before age 9 or so. For a kid between 4 and 8, sometimes a spanking really is the best and most efficient way to drive a needed lesson home for life.

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