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North Texans Sound Off On Yelling Vs. Spanking Study

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – How to discipline or punish children is always a hot topic. Questions always arise over what is effective and when is the line crossed?  Yelling, shouting, and raising your voice…may feel natural.   But a new study says those actions should only be used to get a child’s attention.  The study, done at the University of Pittsburgh, argues that those practices equate with spanking.

Many North Texas parents agree that yelling is a bad idea.  At the Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park in North Dallas, Chelsea Lopker watched as her 20-month-old son, Donovan, played in a miniature fire truck.  “He loves fire trucks,” she said.  But when faced with doing something he doesn’t love, Donovan can be a handful.   And, yes—mom sheepishly admitted—sometimes she yells.  “ I don’t like to do it and I definitely feel guilty on the occasions it does happen.”

Chelsea and her circle of friends—other mothers her age—don’t believe in spankings or other forms of corporal punishment; and don’t approve of shouting, either. “Personally, I’m against it; I don’t like to do it, I think it teaches your children to shout back at you,” she told CBS 11 News.

The approach she and her friends use is a bit different. “Just taking the time to be patient and explain and talk with them [children] and help them understand what behavior you expect from them and also exhibiting the type of behavior that you want from them is really what we do,” she explained, adding, “I just try to stay calm in the moment and I try to explain and rationalize and have him sit down.  One of the tools we do is I ask him to sit down and be patient.”

Licensed marriage and family therapist Melody Brooke agrees about not using physical or verbal punishment.  “They aren’t really forms of discipline, they’re really trying to get control back on a child that you feel is out of control,” she said.

Brooke reared five children of her own.  She says while yelling and spankings may be counterproductive, they’re also instinctive behaviors that adults themselves must learn to control.  And it’s not always easy.   “I have to say I have yelled at my kids,” she relates, “ And I regret it every time because it doesn’t work!  Just taking the time to be patient and explain and talk with them and help them understand what behavior you expect from them and also exhibiting the type of behavior that you want from them is really what we do.”

Brooke believes that the old saying about taking a deep breath and counting to 10… really works.  “The first thing you have to do when you start to feel out of control, when your kids have gotten the upper hand, is take a deep breath.  Count to ten.  Because you have to get yourself back under control if you’re going to be effective as a parent and then you can make a logical choice about what to do.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier as kids age, either.  That same University of Pittsburgh study suggests that yelling, cursing, or using insults, may be just as detrimental to the long-term well being of adolescents—as physical abuse.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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