One in five Australian parents still threaten to smack, hit or spank their kids when they misbehave, a new report has revealed.
Up to 23 per cent of parents threatened to physically discipline their children if they’ve been badly behaved, the Child Health Poll report by the Royal Children’s Hospital found.
‘Physical discipline can hang long-lasting negative effects on a child, including reduced self-esteem and psychological harm,’ report director Dr Anthea Rhodes said.
The report found up to 17 per cent of parents actually smacked, hit, spanked, slapped or pinched their children when they misbehaved, shares Daily Mail.
The report also claimed that a ‘significant proportion’ of Australian children had been physically disciplined in the month before the studies conclusion.
Punitive or negative discipline does not help children learn what behaviour is expected from them as it centres on what not to do, Dr Rhodes said.
‘Children who experience aggressive discipline are also more likely to develop aggressive behaviour themselves,’ she added.
A number of the parents surveyed said they look on their disciplinary tactics critically, with 48 per cent saying they become ‘impatient too quickly’, while 38 per cent said they often ‘lost their temper’ which caused feelings of guilt.
The poll found more than half of Australian parents (51%) think it is never OK to use physical discipline with a child. However, almost one in five parents (23%) subscribe to myths that physical discipline teaches a child to respect their parents. Another one in five (23%) also believe it teaches children self-discipline, while a quarter believe children can become unmanageable without physical discipline.
The poll, based on a survey of 2044 parents Australia-wide caring for 3545 children aged one year to under 18 years old, found:
- The vast majority (95%) of parents use positive tactics to promote good behaviour in their children, such as attention, praise and reward
- One in four parents (27%) report feeling stressed by their child’s behaviour every day
- A significant proportion of Australian children have been physically disciplined in the past month, according to parent report, with
- 4% being physically disciplined `quite a lot or most of the time’, 13% `some of the time’ and a further 24% `rarely’
- Many parents reflect critically on their own parenting strategies, with almost half of (48%) said they become impatient too quickly,
- while one in three (36%) said they often lost their temper and later felt guilty
- A third of parents (33%) said children should be on their best behaviour at all times, suggesting a lack of understanding about the range of normal childhood behaviours
- A third (32%) said they often feel overwhelmed by managing their child’s behaviour
- And almost half (45%) of parents are not confident that they would know where to go for help if they had difficulty managing their child’s behaviour
However the report also showed almost all parents do use positive techniques such as praising their child’s behaviour when they’re good.
Dr Rhodes said a positive response was the best way to encourage children to continue their good behaviour.
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