With Harsh Discipline, No One Wins

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Photo Credit: American Humane Association

It has been long argued that physically disciplining a child through means such as spanking or hitting is detrimental to the child's emotional development and well-being. But what about harsh verbal discipline? A study was recently released that found children are more prone to depression and behavior problems if their parents resort to shouting or swearing at them when they misbehave. The study, conducted by Dr. Ming-Te Wang at the University of Pittsburgh, looked at almost a thousand middle class two-parent families. The results clearly showed that harsh verbal discipline is not only ineffective, but can potentially exacerbate the child's issues.

Dogs, too, are detrimentally affected by harsh verbal discipline. Similar to a child becoming more delinquent if harsh punishment is used, dogs with aggressive tendencies will often become more aggressive if subjected to harsh, punitive training methods. Perhaps even worse, some dogs shut down completely as a result of harsh punishment, and enter a state of learned helplessness.

What we can all take away from this is a better understanding of how our children and our dogs learn. Harsh physical or verbal punishment simply does not effectively teach a child or a dog right from wrong. Hopefully, as studies like this one continue to come out, such methods will become a thing of the past.

Read the full article about the study here.



2 Comments

  1. DeLinda

    September 5th, 2013 at 11:10 am

    As a survivor of physical and emotional abuse, I can tell you these findings are right on the mark My childhood upbringing is why I have several emotional issues as an adult, and also why I treat my animals - cats AND dogs - with love and respect.

  2. JK

    December 11th, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Wait, you know that abuse, punishment, and discipline are three different things?
    Punishment IS 100% abuse when done in anger, hatred, or rage. Discipline, when done calmly, actually can benefit. Love and respect ARE part of proper discipline. Sadly people don't understand and either abuse their dog/child in a fit of rage OR think that all discipline is hurtful/negative and totally spoil their kids instead.
    In no way am I condoning abusive acts of punishment because too many people do it the wrong way (and shouting/swearing is definitely not how to do it), but I'm left wondering why we have so many delinquent, spoiled kids in this generation who have no sense of responsibility, respect for their own family or others, or caring feelings. The same attitude is found in dogs who do not have rules. Could it just be that we are missing something? Food for thought.

    I mean, I was spanked when I was younger and I think I've turned out just fine because my parents did out of love. And just as discipline can become abuse so easily, reward methods can backfire as well. There's a fine line for both methods. I think its unfair to shoot down one method or the other.
    Just my opinion though. I do find your articles to be quite interesting, Victoria!



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