Two approaches to discipline you hopefully never use have been passionately denounced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In a long and very important statement released by the organisation, parents were urged to find positive ways to promote better behaviour in children – and doctors were urged to help them do the same.
No smacking, no shaming, no wooden spoon
The AAP are calling for adults “to avoid physical punishment and verbal abuse of children” in a bid to protect kids and help them grow into happy, healthy adults.
Smacking, shaking, shaming and a whole bunch of old-school traditional and terrible discipline techniques (hello getting your mouth washed out for bad language) are being called out for what they are – W.R.O.N.G. And also abusive, let’s be real.
While some parents – or grandparents – may think that a little smack never did anyone any harm, the research proves otherwise and the AAP wants to clear that up once and for all. Not only that, they are robustly focusing on discouraging verbal forms of ‘discipline’. Things like shaming, humiliating and insulting children.
Read more about discipline:
- 9 really common reasons why toddlers have tantrums
- “Screaming, crying and flailing limbs”: A parent’s guide to managing tantrums
- The truth about bribing your kids: How much is okay?
No scaring, no threatening, no ridiculing
Smacking is often hotly debated, but thankfully lots of people consider it an unacceptable form of discipline. Phew.
Verbal forms of ‘discipline’ are being dragged out into the light of day too, as experts warn parents that ‘psychologically aggressive’ punishments are harmful as well.
“The AAP recommends that adults caring for children use healthy forms of discipline, such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviours, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations,” their statement says.
“The AAP recommends that parents do not use spanking, hitting, slapping.”
For parents and carers who are not clear on what might constitute ‘verbal abuse’ the AAP also slammed the following in their statement – “insulting” children and “punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares, or ridicules the child.”
“The odd smack never hurt me!”
Punishing a child by shaking or smacking – or worse – not only has been proven to be a totally ineffective method of discipline, it can result in diminished physical and mental health outcomes for kids … and is just straight-up cruel.
Physical punishments like smacking might be a last resort for some parents – or may be something that happens when they are under pressure. But the AAP says physical discipline in any form is simply never, ever, ever okay. Even when you are having a bad day.
“A good, hard spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child?” Nope
Of course, you probably know that and would never dream of hitting or pinching your child or aiming a wooden spoon at them.
However, the AAP says a poll of US parents conducted by Harris Interactive discovered that support for the statement “good, hard spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child” was still at 70 percent in 2012.
Okay it’s a wee while ago and it’s America, but 70 percent is still a majority of parents surveyed.
The AAP are pushing for better promotion of positive discipline methods and parenting classes for parents – and better awareness of the terrible impact some ‘punishments’ can have.
“The AAP recommends that adults caring for children use healthy forms of discipline, such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviours, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations.”