COLUMBIA, MO. - Belts. Tree switches. Bare hands. There was a time when they could all strike fear in the hearts of children because they were commonly used for punishment. And many parents had the same reasoning, the Biblical saying: "Spare the rod, spoil the child."
But a new study from the University of Missouri that was recently published in Developmental Psychology says physical discipline in childhood can lead to more problems.
Researchers found that if African-American children experienced severe punishment at 15 months old, they were more likely to exhibit increased aggressive and delinquent behaviors in the fifth grade. They were also less likely to show positive behaviors -- like helping others.
In European American children, negative emotions -- like irritability, predicted their behavior. In summary, researchers said it is important that parents refrain from physical punishment as it can have long-lasting impacts. They say if parents want to nurture positive behaviors, they should teach a child how to regulate their behaviors early.
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