Showing your child affection after disciplining them could be
doing more harm than good. In a recent study at Duke University, researchers
found that physical punishment immediately followed by hugs and kisses was
causing stress and anxiety in children.
Parents try to soothe their children's feelings, because
they feel guilty for disciplining them in the first place. However, the mix of the
two extremes in behavior can be confusing.
"Being very warm with a child whom you hit in this manner [corporal
punishment] rarely makes things better. It can make a child more, not less,
anxious," lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Lansford wrote on the Child and Family
The study included more than 1,000 mothers and children from
eight different countries: Thailand, China, Kenya, the Philippines, Colombia,
Italy, Jordan and the United States. Children's reactions varied based on home locations.
Those from countries with a more authoritative parenting style, like Kenya and
Colombia, weren't as impacted.
"Generally, childhood anxiety actually gets worse when
parents are very loving alongside using corporal punishment," Lansford said.
This study comes at a time when corporal punishment is
becoming socially unacceptable in more and more countries. It is outlawed in 43
countries, and many parents say that they later regret using it on their
"Perhaps the most compelling lesson from research is that no
one has found evidence that corporal punishment is good for children … there
are other ways to produce desired effects in children's behaviors. We should
focus our efforts on helping parents to understand and use these alternatives,"