MONDAY, Nov. 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Pediatricians should educate parents about positive and effective discipline strategies for children and emphasize the importance of avoiding corporal punishment, according to a policy statement published online Nov. 5 in Pediatrics to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held from Nov. 2 to 6 in Orlando, Florida.

Robert D. Sege, M.D., Ph.D., from Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues address the use of punishment for disciplining children, including corporal punishment and verbal punishment such as shaming or humiliation.

The authors note that corporal punishment has been linked to an increased risk for negative behavioral, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children. Parents, caregivers, and other adults should not use corporal punishment either in anger or as a punishment for or consequence of misbehavior. They should also not use other disciplinary strategies that cause shame or humiliation, including verbal abuse. Pediatricians are encouraged to offer guidance on effective discipline strategies, information regarding harmful effects of corporal punishment, and current evidence indicating that spanking is not necessary and may cause long-term harm. Agencies that offer family support should provide information about effective alternatives to corporal punishment, including healthy forms of discipline such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors.

“It’s best to begin with the premise of rewarding positive behavior,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Parents can set up rules and expectations in advance. The key is to be consistent in following through with them.”

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