Mar 12, 2018

Dr. Gellner: There's always controversy over spanking children. Some people say kids should never be spanked, and others argue that generations have spanked their children, and most adults who were spanked turned out just fine. And some kids these days really need a good spanking. So who's right? I'll discuss spanking on today's Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering The Healthy Kid Zone with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Every parent can tell you that disciplining their kids is hard work. But it's an important tool for teaching children what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not. However, a new study in The Journal of Pediatrics shows that parents who choose to physically discipline their children may be conditioning them towards domestic violence.

Kids learn how to behave towards other people by following the examples their parents set for them. Children who are repeatedly spanked learn that aggression is a normal way to react to a stressful situation, and so they lash out at those they love when they are older. The long-term effects of kids who are spanked or had other physical punishments have been studied many times, and they show that those children are more likely to have mental health issues or substance abuse disorders.

So what's a parent to do? Some of the best discipline isn't even about discipline at all. Instead, it's about catching them when they're doing something good and praising them when they do the right thing or are helpful. Kids really do want to try hard to please their parents, believe it or not. When problem behaviors do arise, punishments like timeouts, loss of privileges, or having to face natural consequences can be very effective.

As a parent and a pediatrician, I know that sometimes doing those things just doesn't cut it. Some children absolutely can be more difficult to discipline than others. If your child seems overly defiant no matter what you do, ask your pediatrician about referring you and your child to a therapist or other mental health provider who can help determine the underlying cause of the behavior and help with management.

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