An earlier version of this post incorrectly implied that all of the children in the study were under 12 months old. The post has been updated.
Think spanking has gone the way of babies sleeping on their stomachs? Particularly spanking very young children? Specifically, those so young they can’t even walk yet?
A recent study out of the University of Michigan showed that nearly 30 percent of children at age one had been spanked by a parent in the last month (the average age of children in the study was 15 months). The study, in the current issue of “Child Abuse and Neglect,” looked at 2,788 families in urban areas. It shows that despite research showing that spanking increases aggression, depression and negative behavior in children, many parents still do it.
This study comes on the heels of a report last fall saying that using harsh verbal discipline with children can be just as damaging as spanking. Experts say neither technique is effective, yet parents continue to use them.
“If you yell at your child, you either create somebody who yells back at you or somebody who is shamed and retreats,” Meghan Leahy, a mother of three and a parenting coach in Northwest Washington, told me last fall. The same goes for spanking. “You’re either growing aggression or growing shame. Those are not characteristics that any parents want in their kids.”
How do you discipline your child? Do you spank? How young is too young for spanking?