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We’ve all been there. The 2- or 3-year-old, a major tantrum, and you get hit, kicked, bitten.

Before you were a parent, you knew how you’d deal with children. In fact, you were kind of an expert. But now, you have this little crazy person abusing you. In a minute, you’re sure there will be a full 360 degree head rotation.

What do you do? Do you make the choice to spank?

A new study found a link between regular (2 times a month or more) spanking of 3-year-olds and aggressive behavior later in life. The study also took into account how aggressive the children were in the first place and other familial factors, such as drug use and neglect.

Here’s how it was done: 2,500 mothers of 3-year-olds were asked how often they spanked their child. They were also asked about the child’s behavior. Two years later, researchers checked back and found that those kids who were regularly spanked were more likely to act out.

From the study:

Despite American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to the contrary, most parents in the United States approve of and have used corporal punishment as a form of child discipline. The current findings suggest that even minor forms of corporal punishment, such as spanking, increase risk for increased child aggressive behavior.

(That’s an interesting term there, isn’t it? “Corporal punishment.” Linguistically, it sounds severe.)

So you want a bully? Spank them.

Okay. It’s not that simple. But most of us can agree that peaceful parenting will have better results long-term. It takes more work and patience to reason and discuss, to take away privileges and give time outs, but in the long term, we’ll have the kind of kids we want to be around!

(As a side note: Does anyone else find it irritating that they only asked mothers about the frequency of spanking? In my experience, dads sometimes spank too! Classic “must be the mothers” reasoning, eh?)

Found through NPR.

Image via Ha! Designs on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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