Parenting, Spanking, and Later Aggression

“Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child.” Proverbs 13:24

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children carefully disciplines them.


Please notice that in the translation of Proverbs 13:24, the original Hebrew word was “hate the child” rather than “spoil the child.”

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a parent in a supermarket correcting her crying child by spanking him? In this scenario, the angry parent scolds the kid to stop crying and spanks the youngster, which can only cause the child to cry even more. Parents continue using hitting and yelling to discipline their young children.

Studies support research done in the past: Spanking children is not suitable for them and results in discipline problems and aggression in elementary school and beyond. Yet, spanking is a tactic mothers and fathers continue to use. Why is this so?

Studies show that many fathers and mothers spanked their children at age five. These numbers are high even though this is an ineffective way to correct behavior. It continues because this was how parents were raised, which temporarily results in compliance. Later, the same behavior occurs in school and while playing with other kids. Exasperated parents probably find it easier to resort to spanking rather than seasoning with their children to discipline them.

Understandably, children would become more aggressive when consideration is because parents are role models for their kids. If parents use spanking, children learn that hitting rather than talking and negotiating are preferred ways to solve problems. Therefore, those regularly spanked children learn to vent their frustrations and anger at school. Besides, in a child’s mind, if mom and dad hit, it must be the right way to do things.

Another study found a correlation between children who are hit or spanked as punishment and an increased likeliness of physically abusing romantic partners in adulthood.

Studies also found that children who were spanked were found to have lower vocabularies as compared to other kids. Not that spanked children are less intelligent than others, but that less time is spent talking about problems. In addition, youngsters who were spanked might be distracted and less able to learn at school.

Of course, it isn’t easy to raise little kids. Pressured for time to make breakfast, get the kids dressed, get to work, get them to elementary school, and see too many other chores, parents become overwhelmed, and their patience stretched very thin. Despite this, avoiding yelling and spanking is healthier, especially considering future behavior and development implications. Parents need to learn better strategies than hitting to handle their anger.

In a world where we read about war and violence every day, there have to be better ways to raise our children, and there are. It’s always sobering to remember that our little kids will become teenagers. By that time, it might be too late to impress upon them the values having to do with talking rather than fighting.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD






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