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Parents physically rebuke defiant kids in public.

By Vidisha Rana Subscribe to RSS | August 8th 2012 | Views:

The study founds parents resort to the "negative touch" when dealing with willful children who do not abide by their wishes in public places.

The occurrence was much more common than what is acknowledged in laboratory settings or surveys.

Study researcher, Kathy Stansbury, a trained psychologist and professor of human development and family studies at Michigan State University said, "I was very surprised to see what many people consider a socially undesirable behavior done by nearly a quarter of the caregivers."

"I have also seen hundreds of kids and their parents in a lab setting and never once witnessed any of this behavior.”

106 interactions studied

The focus of the study was to get some insight into how often care-givers use 'positive' and 'negative' touch to discipline kids in real life situations.

'Negative touch' included restraining, pinching, slapping and bottom battering while 'positive touch' included hugging, tickling and patting.

They observed 106 interactions between caregivers and misbehaving kids aged 3-5 years in restaurants, shopping malls, parks and other public spots. The study subjects were unaware of being monitored.

Findings of the study

The analysis revealed that 23 percent of the defiant kids were subjected to some sort of "negative touch" to discipline them on the spot.

It was also noted that 33 percent received a positive touch from caregivers while 38 percent got no touch at all.

Female caregivers were more inclined to use negative touch with boys and positive touch with girls. Males touched the kids more during discipline settings than their fairer counterparts.

What came as a pleasant surprise was that men often exhibited a more gentler approach and adopted a positive manner.

Stansbury commented, “When we think of Dad, we think of him being the disciplinarian, and Mom as nurturer, but that’s just not what we saw. I do think that we are shifting as a society and fathers are becoming more involved in the daily mechanics of raising kids, and that’s a good thing for the kids and also a good thing for the dads.”

Disciplinary action with positive touch helps

The study found defiant kids complied to their parent’s wishes quite readily when subjected to positive touch as opposed to a negative approach or physical punishment.

Though kids complied with parental wishes when disciplined with negative touch they often pouted or sulked afterwards.

Stansbury said, "If your child is upset and not minding you and you want to discipline them, I would use a positive, gentle touch. Our data found that negative touch didn't work."

The findings were published in the current issue of the research journal Behavior and Social Issues.

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