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It’s science: spanking makes a child’s behavior worse in the long run

Spanking is a polarizing topic for parents. Some were raised with it themselves and see it as one ingredient in their family recipe for child-rearing, while others consider it poison for a child’s self-esteem and development.


As the debate continues, a new study offers some evidence that might have parents thinking more about alternatives to spanking. The science shows spanking can actually make a child's behavior worse, even 10 years later.

Previous studies have linked physical punishments, including spanking, with negative outcomes for kids within a year of the discipline, but the most recent research on the subject, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, found this kind of punishment in the earliest years of a child’s life is negatively impacting temperament and behavior a decade later.

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“It is very important that parents refrain from physical punishment as it can have long-lasting impacts. If we want to nurture positive behaviors, all parents should teach a child how to regulate their behaviors early,” says Gustavo Carlo, one of the study’s authors.

So what can parents do to correct a child’s negative behavior and teach them to self-regulate? Here are some alternatives to consider.

Be consistent and set limits

According to Deerwester, author of The Entitlement Free Child, parents seeking spanking alternatives should be consident, set limits, and allow logical and natural consequences instead of stepping in with a spank (like if you throw your food, you’re not getting spanked but mealtime is over).

“The alternative to spanking is not permissiveness, making excuses for misbehavior or laissez faire parenting. The alternative to spanking is teaching,” Deerwester writes.

“Teaching is not punishing, shaming or hurting. Through teaching, children learn to manage their own feelings, to acquire patience, to delay gratification, to consider long-term outcomes, to consider someone else's needs and feelings, to compromise, and to find constructive solutions to problems through age-appropriate challenges like protesting bedtimes, mealtimes and everyday rules. Children continually test parents' sincerity and consistency day after day, year after year.”

Teach control

At The Yale Parenting Centre, Dr. Alan Kazdin, a psychology professor and director of the Center and Child Conduct Clinic, teaches parents to use positive reinforcement and effusive praise to reward children for good behavior, rather than physically punishing bad behavior. Part of this involves teaching children to control their own behavior, even when they are angry.

Under Kazdin’s direction, a parent wouldn’t spank a child who hit them during a tantrum, but might ask the child to pretend to to throw tantrums and practice doing so without hitting anyone. As the kids practice controlling their tantrums when they aren’t angry, real tantrums become less intense and parents don’t need to resort to spanking.

Take a break

Pretend tantrums are one thing, but real ones are another. They can be frustrating. According to The Centre for Parenting Education, parents seeking alternative to spanking should find ways to control their own anger when a child is behaving in an undesirable, frustrating fashion.

Parents should try not to discipline out of anger, and take a minute to think about some age appropriate consequences. As Karen Deerwester, the owner of Family Time Coaching & Consulting, notes, “Parent emotions are always gasoline on the fire.”

Set a goal

While spanking may stop an unwanted behavior temporarily, in the moment, studies have found hitting kids is ineffective in the long-run, and teaches them to hit others. In 2014 researchers at York University published a paper on safe and effective alternatives to spanking.

According to the study’s authors, “Setting long-term parenting goals is an important first step to effective discipline,” so that’s where parents should start if they’re trying to take spanking out of their repertoire.“In setting long-term goals, it is important for parents to recognize that they set a standard for appropriate behavior as role models to their children,” the study notes.

A long term parenting goal may include teaching your child appropriate behaviors without modeling violence as being acceptable within any relationship

The science of spanking is pretty clear, but with patience and awareness of our own anger, parents can harness alternatives that are less damaging to a child’s development.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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