A new study that looks at how low-income parents discipline young children has found that spanking one-year-olds leads to more aggressive behaviors and less sophisticated cognitive development in the next two years. In addition, one-year-olds’ fussiness predicted spanking and verbal punishment at ages one, two, and three.
“Our findings clearly indicate that spanking affects children’s development,” according to Lisa J. Berlin, the study’s lead author. Specifically, children who were spanked more often at one behaved more aggressively when they were two and had lower scores on tests measuring thinking skills when they were three.
On the flip side, the study also found that verbal punishment is not associated with more aggressive behaviors. And in fact when verbal punishment was accompanied by emotional support from moms, the children did better on the tests of cognitive ability.