Spare the rod and develop the child
By - - MCGILL (CANADA)
Added: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 00:06:11 UTC
Study suggests non-corporal discipline aids children’s executive-functioning ability
Children in a school that uses corporal punishment performed significantly worse in tasks involving “executive functioning” – psychological processes such as planning, abstract thinking, and delaying gratification – than those in a school relying on milder disciplinary measures such as time-outs, according to a new study involving two private schools in a West African country.
The findings, published by the journal Social Development, suggest that a harshly punitive environment may have long-term detrimental effects on children’s verbal intelligence and their executive-functioning ability. As a result, children exposed to a harshly punitive environment may be at risk for behavioral problems related to deficits in executive-functioning, the study indicates.
The study – by Prof. Victoria Talwar of McGill University, Prof. Stephanie M. Carlson of the University of Minnesota, and Prof. Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, involved 63 children in kindergarten or first grade at two West African private schools. Their families lived in the same urban neighborhood. The parents were largely civil servants, professionals and merchants.
In one school, discipline in the form of beating with a stick, slapping of the head, and pinching was administered publicly and routinely for offenses ranging from forgetting a pencil to being disruptive in class. In the other school, children were disciplined for similar offenses with the use of time-outs and verbal reprimands.
While overall performance on the executive-functioning tasks was similar in the younger children from both schools, the Grade 1 children in the non-punitive school scored significantly higher than those in the punitive school. These results are consistent with research findings that punitive discipline may make children immediately compliant – but may reduce the likelihood that they will internalize rules and standards. That, in turn, may result in lower self-control as children get older.
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