nola family staff, Nov. 7, 2018

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced Monday that parents should not spank their children. In their strongly worded policy statement, the Academy warned against the harmful effects of corporal punishment in the home.

According to the Academy, "Recent studies have also shown that corporal punishment is associated with increased aggression and makes it more likely that children will be defiant in the future. Spanking alone is associated with outcomes similar to those of children who experience physical abuse." 
Remember "Spare the rod and spoil the child"?
That's a firm pass.  In one study the Academy referenced, approximately 2,000 parents were interviewed when their children were three years old, and then again when those kids were five. Researchers found that more than half the mothers and one third of the fathers spanked their children, with spanking declining after age five. 
As summarized in a NY Times article, that same study found – after controlling for several variables such as the children's age, birth weight, aggression and vocabulary skills at younger ages, and family variables such as race and income– that maternal spanking at age 5 was significantly associated with greater aggression and rule-breaking and lower scores on the vocabulary test at age 9.
Barbara Leblanc, Director of the Parenting Center at Children's Hospital says, "The evidence about the effects of spanking, hitting and verbal abuse including shaming, has been growing. We are fortunate to have one of the foremost researchers on this in New Orleans, at Tulane, Dr. Cathy Taylor."  
LeBlanc said, "Part of the mission of The Parenting Center is to help parents develop skills and competence in their new roles. We know so much more today than in past generations about how children develop, particularly brain development."
Citing Dr. Taylor’s research, LeBlanc added, “Technology has provided us with information about how parenting practices impact the developing brain. We have long known that positive parenting practices help children become self-sufficient and responsible citizens, among other qualities, while physical punishment doesn't have the same outcomes. Now, thanks to Dr. Taylor and others, we know that hitting kids actually changes the way the brain develops besides not helping children learn to manage and internalize positive patterns of behavior."

 The Academy's new policy on spanking (for the past 20 years they just 'encouraged' parents not to spank) will be published in the December issue of the Academy's journal, PediatricsThe recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidelines for pediatricians as well as recognition of the harmful effects of harmful discipline practices.

The Parenting Center recommends the following parent resources for discipline/positive parenting practices:

The Parenting Center staff is available by phone, in person, and they have classes in child development, discipline, communication. Parents can contact them via email: [email protected] or phone: 504-896-9591.

For more on alternative ways to discipline your child and the dangers of punishment, read  Guidance, Discipline and the Perils of Punishment .

Recommended online resources:

Laura Markham's site: 


Join Our Playdate

Get our parenting e-newsletter and they won’t run with scissors.

Latest NOLA family-friendly stuff

Special needs in NOLA