Physical punishment at a young age could adversely affect the psychology of children, suggests a study.
Researchers at the University of Missouri have reported that children are emotionally vulnerable during infancy and early years of childhood and that physical discipline can have a serious impact on their behaviour.
They identified differences in parenting practices, temperament and self-regulation, and further assessed their effect on the development of racially diverse, low-income children.
Data was collected from 1,840 mothers and children who were at or below the federal poverty level. They were identified as either European American or African American. Information was obtained when children were 15 months old, 25 months old and in the fifth grade.
The results demonstrated that receiving serious physical punishment in African-American children, at 15 months of age increased the likelihood of having an aggressive and offensive behaviour when they reached the fifth grade.
Moreover, it also reduced the likelihood of a positive conduct, such as helping others. Among the European- American children, however, negative emotions, such as irritability, predicted such outcomes. For both groups, good self-discipline predicted better behavioural outcomes.
The researchers were of the view that the treatment given by parents to their children (particularly African-American) at their young age, plays a critical role in determining their behaviour. Hence, parents must abstain from imposing excessive physical discipline.
Source: Developmental Psychology Jounal