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Mighty Blog

New updates to AAP policy on spanking

All parents want what’s best for their kids, and correcting problem behavior in children is a challenge for all parents. Sometimes, parents turn to yelling or hitting kids when feeling frustrated and unsure of what else to do. However, new updated guidelines on corporal punishment from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that parents and other adult caregivers should not use discipline strategies that involve spanking, verbal shaming or other forms of corporal punishment (define as the “non-injurious, open handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior”).

Good parenting doesn’t mean not making mistakes, but instead recognizing when things haven’t gone well and responding with love to repair things with their child. Here are a few tips for positive parenting from pediatrician and director of medical education Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd:

  • Remember that children are young and still learning, and tell yourself, “she’s only 2.”
  • Notice and celebrate your child’s strengths and abilities, as children respond much better to positive reinforcement and attention than to negative attention and punishment.
  • Provide consistent, age appropriate guidelines, limits and boundaries; make eye contact and be firm but gentle when setting limits and saying no.
  • And most importantly, recognize and regulate your own feelings before responding to your child; we do better when we take deep breaths and calm ourselves before responding to problem behavior.

The study also shows that parents who use corporal punishment more likely experienced trauma themselves or may even be depressed. Chief of general pediatrics Dr. Gigi Chawla recommends parents partner with their pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner to help determine what discipline is developmentally appropriate for a child, because together, families can work towards breaking the cycle of trauma.

You can read more from the AAP here.

Stefanie Kula