Some Things Hugs Can’t Fix

ybs (CC BY 2.0)

ybs (CC BY 2.0)

via Duke Today:

A loving mom can’t overcome the anxiety and aggression caused by corporal punishment, and her otherwise warm demeanor may make it worse, according to research led by Duke University that was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

“If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and then smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken,” wrote lead researcher Jennifer E. Lansford on the Child and Family Blog. Lansford is a research professor at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University. “Being very warm with a child whom you hit in this manner rarely makes things better. It can make a child more, not less, anxious.”

The blog is a joint project of the Future of Children at Princeton University and the Applied Developmental Psychology Research Group at the University of Cambridge.

Lansford calls it “one of many worrying findings” in the multicenter research about corporal punishment. They interviewed more than 1,000 children and their mothers, from eight different countries, asking about levels of physical punishment and also about anxiety and aggressive behavior on the part of the children.

They found that while maternal warmth can lessen the impact of “low levels of corporal punishment” among children ages 8 to 10, both anxiety and aggression still remain — just not quite as much. It doesn’t typically diminish the negative impact of high levels of physical punishment. Lansford said countries with a more authoritarian parenting style, like Kenya and Colombia, see less effect on the children than other countries.

“Generally, childhood anxiety actually gets worse when parents are very loving alongside using corporate punishment,” she wrote. The researchers aren’t sure why, but she said it might be “simply too confusing and unnerving for a child to be hit hard and loved warmly all in the same home.”

Continue reading.

h/t Science Daily.