The Most Effective Punishment for Kids

When a child is naughty, fully 94 percent of parents admit they have used some form of corporal punishment at one time or another even though psychologists have long warned that striking children can lead to later emotional and behavioral problems.

A study from the University of New Orleans has concluded that these three punishments are far more effective than spanking or hitting:

  • Time out.
  • Giving extra chores.
  • Taking away privileges, such as electronic toys and television.
Even if parents spank their children only occasionally, the kids are more likely to show signs of depression or lower self-esteem. "The key is consistency. Using something like corporal punishment that seems severe at best doesn't help and can put a child at risk for problems," Dr. Paul Frick of the University of New Orleans told Reuters. "It is better to use other types of discipline and focus on the consistency." While the use of physical punishment is more common in the United States, it is illegal to use it in homes or schools in Austria, Finland, Germany and Sweden.

In this study, Frick and his team examined the impact of corporal punishment on 98 children. While there were many negative effects, largely impacting a child's confidence and sense of worth, there were no positive consequences. One lesson the kids learned that the parents probably didn't mean to teach: When angry or upset, it's OK to hit.

"The key is to have a lot of different forms of punishment depending on the age of the child," Frick told Reuters. Younger children benefit most from a time out, while older kids respond best to having privileges taken away or being assigned extra household chores. Frick said these disciplinary measures are just as effective as spanking, but have fewer harmful consequences.

The study findings were published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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