Society & Culture - Posted by Andy Henion-Michigan State on Friday, August 3, 2012 13:51 - 0 Comments
Nearly 1 in 4 kids gets physical rebuke in public
MICHIGAN STATE (US) — Twenty-three percent of kids received some kind of physical discipline when they failed to obey their caregiver in public, and moms were more likely to use “negative touch” than dads.
Parents use physical discipline much more in real-world settings than in a laboratory study or they admit in surveys. The physical discipline, called “negative touch,” included arm pulling, pinching, slapping, and spanking.
“I was very surprised to see what many people consider a socially undesirable behavior done by nearly a quarter of the caregivers,” says Michigan State University psychologist Kathy Stansbury. “I have also seen hundreds of kids and their parents in a lab setting and never once witnessed any of this behavior.”
Straight from the Source
In one of the first real-world studies of caregiver discipline, she wanted to get a realistic gauge of how often parents use what she calls positive and negative touch in noncompliance episodes with their children, in a real-world natural setting, outside the laboratory.
A group of university student researchers anonymously observed 106 discipline interactions between caregivers and children ages 3-5 in public places and recorded the results.
The data were vetted, analyzed, and published in the current issue of the research journal Behavior and Social Issues.
Stansbury says another surprising finding was that male caregivers touched the children more during discipline settings than female caregivers—and the majority of the time it was in a positive manner. Positive touch included hugging, tickling, and patting.
She says this positive approach contradicts the age-old stereotype of the father as the parent who lays down the law.
“When we think of Dad, we think of him being the disciplinarian, and Mom as nurturer, but that’s just not what we saw,” says Stansbury, associate professor in the department of human development and family studies. “I do think that we are shifting as a society and fathers are becoming more involved in the daily mechanics of raising kids, and that’s a good thing for the kids and also a good thing for the dads.”
Ultimately, positive touch caused the children to comply more often, more quickly and with less fussing than negative touch, or physical punishment, Stansbury says. When negative touch was used, even when children complied, they often pouted or sulked afterward, she says.
“If your child is upset and not minding you and you want to discipline them, I would use a positive, gentle touch,” Stansbury says. “Our data found that negative touch didn’t work.”
Stansbury’s co-authors are David W. Haley of the University of Toronto-Scarborough and Michigan State researchers Holly Brophy-Herb and Jung Ah Lee.
More news from Michigan State University: http://news.msu.edu/