Parents Doubt Their Discipline of Kids Works: Study

One-third perceive methods as ineffective, much as their parents' tactics were with them

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SATURDAY, Jan. 13, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- About a third of parents believe that their methods of disciplining their children are not all that effective, says a study that also found that many parents use the same discipline techniques as their own parents.

The study, published in the January issue of the journal Clinical Pediatrics, included parents from 32 states in the United States and from Puerto Rico and Canada. When it came to discipline methods, 45 percent of the parents said they used time-outs, 41.5 percent said they used removal of privileges, 13 percent said they yelled at their children, and 8.5 percent often or always used spanking.

About 31 percent of the parents said they "never" or "sometimes" perceived that their discipline methods were effective, the study found. It also found that 38 percent of parents said they used the same methods of discipline as their own parents -- an approach that was often considered ineffective.

"There was actually an inverse relationship between self-reports of yelling at children and perceived effectiveness of discipline," said study author Dr. Shari Barkin, chief of the division of general pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

"But we strongly suspect that both yelling and spanking might be underreported, because we know when parents perceive their methods are not working, as a third reported, then emotion can quickly escalate," Barkin added in a prepared statement.

Parents with children ages 6 to 11 were about 25 percent less likely than parents with younger children to use time-outs and spanking. When children reached school age, parents were more likely to use yelling and removal of privileges as methods of discipline.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about disciplining children.

SOURCE: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, news release, January 2007

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