Some things hugs can’t fix: Parental warmth does not remove anxiety that follows punishment

A loving mom can’t overcome the anxiety and aggression caused by corporal punishment, and her otherwise warm demeanor may make it worse, according to research led by Duke University that was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

 “If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and then smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken,” wrote lead researcher Jennifer E. Lansford on the Child and Family Blog.  Lansford is a research professor at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University.  “Being very warm with a child whom you hit in this manner rarely makes things better.  It can make a child more, not less, anxious.”

The blog is a joint project of the Future of Children at Princeton University and the Applied Developmental Psychology Research Group at the University of Cambridge.

Lansford calls it “one of many worrying findings” in the multi-center research about corporal punishment.  They interviewed more than 1,000 children and their mothers, from eight different countries, asking about levels of physical punishment and also about anxiety and aggressive behavior on the part of the children.

They found that while maternal warmth can lessen the impact of “low levels of corporal punishment” among children ages 8 to 10, both anxiety and aggression still remain — just not quite as much.  It doesn’t typically diminish the negative impact of high levels of physical punishment.  Lansford said countries with a more authoritarian parenting style, like Kenya and Colombia, see less effect on the children than other countries.

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  1. bp7o9 says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. I’ve been struggling with memories of my mother lately, and boy! did your info fit her. She didn’t hit often, but she would do it. Other times, it was overboard with buying presents. I could never talk to her. Too many memories of derision, being told I was being stupid or lying. Stuck right now. I’d really like to hit her if she were alive…a million or more times….


    • cherished79 says:

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂 Physical or emotional abuse ~ these are not forgotten. I can still hear my mother’s hateful words spewing out of her mouth, then rewards later. I’d rather she left the rewards and gifts out and be a caring, supportive mother. Difficult to go through life isn’t it? gifts mean nothing and don’t solve problems.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Leslie says:

    I’m 45 and I rarely tell my parents very personal details of my life. I still find myself flinching in their presence if I express something that I know they will disagree with. I’m working on it though!


  3. Banded Carolina Girl says:

    My mothers words still haunt/hurt me and i will be 50 this year…its somewhat shaped me into being who I am however….to be something she was not (compassionate..caring…non judgemental)….she died in Sept last year and I will forever think, what did I do wrong?..

    great post yet again my friend


    • cherished79 says:

      You did nothing to deserve it, she thought the only way to stop you from doing whatever you were doing was to physically abuse, then felt bad. Trouble is, she would repeat it all over again and again and again. Parents just don’t realize what sticks in your mind throughout your life and how they treated you, then when they are elderly they expect to be taken care of. Is this karma maybe?

      Thanks for posting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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