Positive discipline, harsh physical discipline, physical discipline and psychological aggression in five Caribbean countries: Associations with preschoolers' early literacy skills

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Abstract

Physical punishment has received worldwide attention because of its negative impact on children's cognitive and social development and its implications for children's rights. Using UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys 4 and 5 data, we assessed the associations between positive discipline, harsh physical punishment, physical punishment and psychological aggression and preschoolers' literacy skills in 5628 preschool-aged children and their caregivers in the developing nations of Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname. Caregivers across countries used high levels of explanations and psychological aggression. There were significant country differences in the use of the four disciplinary practices. In the Dominican Republic and Guyana, physical punishment had negative associations with children's literacy skills, and in the Dominican Republic, positive discipline had a positive association with children's literacy skills. Findings are discussed with respect to the negative consequences of harsh disciplinary practices on preschoolers' early literacy skills in the developing world.

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