Parents get physical with unruly kids, study finds

In a real world study of parents disciplining unruly 3-5 year old children, positive touch worked better than negative touch.

... positive touch caused the children to comply more often, more quickly and with less fussing than negative touch, or physical punishment, Stansbury said. When negative touch was used, even when children complied, they often pouted or sulked afterward, she said.

The study, led by Michigan State University’s Kathy Stansbury, found that 23 percent of youngsters received some type of “negative touch” when they failed to comply with a parental request in public places such as restaurants and parks. Negative touch included arm pulling, pinching, slapping and spanking.

...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 said this positive approach contradicts the age-old stereotype of the father as the parent who lays down the law.

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Interesting - I've found as a mother of 3 that touch is an essential part of my parenting - if they aren't listening to me - then I go up to them and touch them - this gains more of their attention - and I suppose gives them an additional sensory experience reinforcing my request.




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