On Spanking, Day Care, TV and More

March 13, 2006

Amy’s disciplining dilemma reminded me of one of my posts on our old site about the latest studies on guilt-ridden mommy topics like spanking, TV watching and Day Care. Here is that post with some minor updates:

Letting your kids watch TV for three or more hours a day hurts school performance. But well-chosen and limited educational programming has been linked to increased creativity, according to major studies cited in the January 9 edition of Newsweek.

The magazine printed a chart — You must subscribe to retrieve it online! — comparing the stances of child experts Benjamin Spock, T. Berry Brazelton, James Dobson, Penelope Leach and John Rosemond with those of recent scientists. The magazine compared these child psychologists’ views on spanking, disciplining, the stay-at-home mom versus day care debate, potty training and TV with studies from the last 30 years compiled by another psychologist, Jane Rankin.

Rankin’s findings?

Spanking: Not much difference between kids who are not spanked and those who are spanked sparingly. Frequent spanking, though, is associated with unhealthy levels of aggression in kids.

Setting Limits: Giving your child reasons why is key. Too much punishment and not enough explaining can lead to delayed development of conscience and more transgression when adults are absent.

Working Moms: Long hours in substandard day care have negative effects on social adjustment. Stay-at-home moms get more face time, but working moms are more social with kids on weekends. No links between day care and ADHD or depression.

Day Care: No strong evidence that delaying entry into day care past 2 years of age is better. One small study suggests less socially competent 2-year-olds in group care have elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Potty Wars: Different kids learn at different times. Training takes about nine months (more for boys). Frequent prompting works.

I was bummed to learn that potty training takes so long, especially for boys. My 2.5-year-old son has shown ZERO interest in his potty chair, except to use it as a toy chest. But I was relieved about the TV findings because I have no qualms about plopping my son in front of Plaza Sesamo to cook dinner or do other household chores. Glad to hear he may even gain some creativity for it!