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Spanking Ranks Low as Discipline Option in U.S. Poll

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital poll finds big majority of parents favor reasoning with the child

MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to child discipline, most parents today opt to reason with their child, take away something the child enjoys, or ground the child or put him or her in timeout to get their point across instead of spanking, according to research published in the April 16 issue of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Matthew M. Davis, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues studied the results of a survey of a national sample of 1,532 parents conducted by Knowledge Networks Inc. The survey posed behavior scenarios for children aged 2 to 5, 6 to 12, and 13 to 17 years, and asked parents to choose their disciplinary preferences.

The researchers found that disciplinary approaches the parents were "very likely" to use were: explain or reason with the child (88 percent); take away something the child enjoys or a privilege (70 percent); or ground the child or put the child in timeout (59 percent). Only 22 percent said they would very likely spank, while 10 percent said they would be very likely to paddle their children. Parents in the West and South were more likely to spank compared to parents in the Midwest and Northeast.

"These poll results indicate that many parents feel they can use a variety of strategies, but what remains to be seen is how effective they think they are. While a great deal of research attention has focused on spanking, much less has looked at the results of discussion-based or privilege-removal approaches in terms of how kids learn and how they develop emotionally," the authors write.

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