How to Convince Parents to Stop Spanking Their Children

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Abstract

English- and Spanish-speaking parents of 1- to 5-year-old children were invited to view 5-10 minutes of parent training program, “Play Nicely,” as part of the well-child checkup. Key measures were parents’ plans to change how they discipline and, if they planned to use less spanking, how the program worked in their situation. Of 197 parents who participated, 128 (65.0%) planned to change how they discipline. Nineteen parents (9.6%) reported that they planned to spank less. The most common reasons for parents to plan to spank less were that the program taught other discipline options (12/19, 63.2%) and that the program taught that spanking was not recommended as a form of discipline (6/19, 31.6%). The majority of parents report that the program works because it offers alternatives to spanking. This study has implications for the development of parent training programs and the primary prevention of child abuse, violence, and other health problems.

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