The Worst Thing You Can Do If You Spank Your Kids​

Corporal punishment is way up on the list of parenting practices no two moms seem to agree on. But now we know one thing for sure about this discipline tactic: cuddling kids after spanking isn't going to make them feel better ... it's going to make them feel worse.

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A lot of parents think that expressing extra love and warmth after punishing children will help soften the blow, but a new study from Duke University proves that it'll actually just make them more anxious and confused about the punishment. 

The researchers looked at more than 1,000 relationships between mothers and their children from eight different countries and found that the feelings of anxiety and aggression in kids were just exacerbated by warmth from their mothers after being spanked.

More from The Stir: 12 Scientific Facts About Spanking Your Kids

Not surprisingly, kids from countries known for more authoritarian parenting styles (like Colombia and Kenya) suffered less than in countries where tough love isn't as common (like in the US).

The studies looked at mothers in four different categories: Low warmth/low punishment, low warmth/high punishment, high warmth/low punishment, and high warmth/high punishment. When they compared the anxiety and aggression of children in each group, they found the highest levels of both in the high warmth/high punishment group.

Though they don't know why, the researchers are guessing that the kids' anxiety comes from the confusion they feel when their mothers flip back and forth between being mean and being nice. That's confusing in any relationship, but particular for toddlers who don't have the best grasp on why it's happening.

More from The StirAlmost 1/3 of Babies Under 12 Months Old Are Spanked Regularly

So which group had the lowest anxiety? That'd be the high warmth/low punishment group, and their levels were a lot lower ... those kids were more than five times less anxious than the high warmth/high punishment kids.

The study also looked at the effects over time and found that the anxiety levels in all the groups were magnified three years down the line. That means that even though showing them warmth right after a spanking might make them stop crying, it'll actually hurt them more in the long run than if you just walk away.

Do you ever find yourself comforting your kids after spanking them?

 

Image © iStock.com/heidijpix

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