Parenting without physical punishment

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Schwartz, C., Waddell, C., Barican, J., Andres, C., & Gray-Grant, D. (2015). Parenting without physical punishment. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 9(1), 1–16. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Most parents use effective disciplinary strategies, such as modelling positive behaviours and setting age-appropriate expectations. Still, some parents resort to using physical punishment despite it being linked to problematic outcomes, such as injuries and emotional problems for children.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized control trials (RCTs) evaluating parenting interventions with outcomes that included parents’ use of physical punishment and children’s wellbeing. Applying our inclusion criteria to the 48 studies identified from our searches, we accepted five RCTs evaluating three parenting programs.

Results: Our review found Chicago Parent Program and Incredible Years  reduced physical punishment and other problematic forms of discipline and also enhanced positive parenting. As well, both programs resulted in improved mental health outcomes for children, including reductions in behaviour problems.

Conclusions: This review finds that parents can be taught effective alternatives to physically punishing children. Investments in effective parenting programs can have produce long term benefits including advancing children’s wellbeing and safety.

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