But nearly 40 moms have gone a step further, recording themselves hitting and parenting magazine may 2011 their kids as part of a new study on how parents and children interact. They didn’t know they were going to be in a study about spanking per se. Researchers have to be careful when presenting their proposed area of study to potential participants — too much information can lead people to alter their normal behavior, which would skew results.
In fact, Holden didn’t even know he’d be studying spanking. He originally set out to study yelling, via voluntary audio recordings of parents conducting life at home — the pedestrian stuff of parenting like meal prep, bath time and lights out. Not all parents who volunteered were accepted. Researchers eliminated those who reported during a screening interview that they never yelled at home. Holden, who presented the research this month in Dallas at the Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline.
Here’s the twist: in the course of analyzing the data collected from 37 families — 36 mothers and one father, all of whom recorded up to 36 hours of audio in six days of study — researchers heard the sharp cracks and dull thuds of spanking, followed in some cases by minutes of crying. The recordings feature a mother spanking her 3-year-old son 11 times for fighting with his sister, prompting a fit of crying and coughing. Another mom hits her 5-year-old when he won’t clean up his room. One mom slaps her child when he doesn’t cooperate with the bedtime routine. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be recording my interactions with my kids, I’d be on my best behavior. Note to researchers: don’t include me in any parenting studies.