Spare the rod, spoil the child?


KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Even though parents want their children to be on their best behavior, we all know that’s not very realistic. The tactic some moms and dads are using to get kids to behave is coming under added scrutiny this week.
Many parents resort to spanking their children to keep them in line. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, a local pediatric expert is joining the nation’s top pediatricians hoping to settle the spanking debate once and for all.

For many years, spanking was socially accepted as a prime method of punishment to get kids to behave. Just four years ago, a survey showed seven in ten adults agreed “a good hard spanking is sometimes necessary”. But now the American Academy of Pediatrics says spanking kids is a failed disciplinary measure. “Corporal punishment does not improve behavior. In fact, it increases aggression in children,” said Pediatric Associates of Kingston Pediatrician Jeffery Kile, MD.

Dr. Kile serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ executive committee of the national conference planning group. AAP just updated its guidelines for parents by issuing a very stern statement warning that spanking can cause children to act out aggressively at home and at school. Dr. Kile said, “It even changes the stress hormones in the brain and can negatively affect brain development in young children.”

Dr. Kile says children who are routinely spanked lose their ability to self-regulate behavior. “And that is learned through different techniques rather than through corporal punishment.” So what should parents do to get their children to behave? Dr. Kile encourages them to set rules for their kids at a very young age and don’t bend the rules. “If one child is going to get disciplined by the dad for one thing and the mom is going to let that go and not discipline that, that creates confusion, not understanding.” Hiller says, “So you need to be consistent.” Dr. Kile says, “You need to be consistent.”  

Another technique Dr. Kile recommends is reinforce the positives when you see your child acting the way he or she should. “We’ve got to pick and choose what we’re going to discipline but reward good behavior.”

Dr. Kile also says watch what you say when you’re disciplining your child. Verbal abuse and shaming kids can also cause damage that can follow your child later in life.

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