Corporal Punishment Affects Your Children's IQ

Corporal Punishment Affects Your Children's IQ

Last update: 05 December, 2017

Corporal punishment and verbal attacks can lead to resentful adults with low self-esteem, who are highly vulnerable to drug abuse and suicide.

When we are born, human beings have similar responses to the stimuli that we experience in life: pleasure, surprise, anger, distress, shame and others. As we grow older, these responses merge with our own experiences to give shape to a complex emotional life.

Children’s emotional wellbeing deteriorates when they are mistreated. In most cases, corporal punishment comes along with harsh words, which affect their self esteem. They become depressed and avoid contact with family members and friends. Anxiety and negative self image can develop, affecting how the child perceives him or herself as a person.

Insecurity, in turn, leads to poor academic performance and understanding of school subjects, creating serious knowledge gaps. This angers the parents, and the cycle of mistreatment and corporal punishment continues.

Even in developed counties, there are still large numbers of adults that approve of physical punishment, despite the evidence pointing to the fact that, not only does it not work, it actually makes things work. Besides, there are more effective alternatives.

Corporal punishment involves the use of force, inflicting pain and discomfort on the child in order to correct their behavior.

It is important to take into account that the vast majority of parents who hit their children were also abused by their own parents.

But all punishment is mischief: all punishment in itself is evil.

-Jeremy Bentham-

Corporal punishment does not only cause momentary pain to children; it can also give rise to trauma that will stay with them throughout their lives. One aspect of this, according to a study carried out by scientists in the United States, is a reduction in IQ, which will hinder their performance in any activities that they undertake in their adult lives.

effects of corporal punishment on children

Effective alternatives to corporal punishment

There are a variety of ways for parents to gain insight into their children’s development, which, in some cases, can reduce the frustration and helplessness that often lead to corporal punishment. One of the most useful ways to do this is to promote words instead of actions.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways to do this:

  • You can use words instead of actions by talking to your child about what kind of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable; what is dangerous and what is not.
  • Listen to your child to get to know why they did something, or stopped doing it. By letting them explain their reasons, you are strengthening their decision-making abilities.
  • The word “discipline” comes from the Latin “discere” which means to learn. In childhood behavior, this has a special meaning. Children’s behavior is closely connected to their feelings. Therefore, discipline is a process that entails learning about behavior and the feelings that cause it.
  • Improve children’s self esteem by praising them when they behave well.
  • Make rules, and enforce them without aggression.
  • Show your child lots of love and affection.
  • Children identify with their parents, so be a good example. They tend to imitate both actions and words. How parents behave, speak and act has a profound impact on the development of their children.
effects of corporal punishment on children

Corporal punishment has limited effectiveness, and can potentially have very harmful side effects. Parents should be helped and encouraged to develop methods other than hitting to control undesired behavior.

If we really want societies with lower levels of aggression and violence, not promoting corporal punishment is a good place to start.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aguirre, E., Montoya, L., & Reyes, J. (2006). Crianza y castigo físico. Diálogos, 4, 31-48.
  • Baumrind, D. (1996). The Discipline Controversy Revisited. Family Relations, 45(4), 405- 414.
  • McMahon, R. (1991). Entrenamiento de padres. En V.E. Caballo (ed.), Manual de técnicas de terapia y modificación de conducta, Madrid: Siglo XXI.
  • Sánchez Gutiérrez, Ginette. (2009) Teorías de niñas y niños sobre el castigo parental. Revista Electrónica “Actualidades Investigativas en Educación”; Universidad de Costa Rica; San Pedro de Montes de Oca, Costa Rica;  vol. 9, núm. 2, mayo-agosto, 2009, pp. 1-29; 31 pág
  • Tabares, X. (1998). El castigo a través de los ojos de los niños. Bogotá. D.C.: CES-Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
  • Víquez Jiménez, Mario Alberto. (2014) Castigo físico en la niñez: un maltrato permitido. UNICEF; San José; Costa Rica; 158 págs

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.