Spanking has become quite the controversial issue over the last few years. Whether or not you spank your child is a personal decision, but researchers say that spanking does in fact effect your child’s personality and IQ.
Dr. Murray Straus spent the better part of his life trying to understand the negative effects of corporal punishment on the psyche of a child. He wrote many books on the subject, detailing the harmful effects of spanking and how it can affect a child’s adult life. A newer study supported by the University of New Hampshire explored the link between spanking and IQ.
Spanking And IQ
Straus, along with Mallie Paschall, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, conducted the study. The two researchers studied samples of 806 children ages 2-4 and 704 children ages 5-9. Four years later, they retested both groups. They found that the IQ’s of children 2-4 who were not spanked ranked five points higher compared to those in the same age group who were spanked. Children 5-9 years old who were not spanked scored 2.8 points higher in IQ four years later, compared to those in the same age group who were spanked.
The duo presented the results at the International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in 2009. Straus explained, “How often parents spanked made a difference. The more spanking the slower the development of the child’s mental ability. But even small amounts of spanking made a difference.”
He added, “All parents want smart children. This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehavior in other ways can help that happen.”
Straus and his team also collected data on corporal punishment in 32 nations among 17,404 university students who experienced spanking as children. They found lower national average IQ levels in nations where spanking was more common.
As for an explanation for the relationship between corporal punishment and lower IQ, researchers explained that corporal punishment can become a chronic stressor for young children, especially those who experience it three or more times a week. Researchers found that the stress of corporal punishment can lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as being afraid that something bad will happen and being easily startled, symptoms that are associated with lower IQ.
Spanking And Personality
According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, children who get spanked are more likely to “defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties.”
The study is based off of a meta-analysis of 50 years of research that involves over 160,000 children. Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin was part of the study. She explained, “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which our parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”
Co-author of the study, Andrew Grogan-Kaylor added, “The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do.”