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Parental Punishment: Don’t Throw Out the Baby with the Bathwater

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Ideological and Political Bias in Psychology


Over the past several decades, the use of punishment as a strategy to discipline children has fallen into disfavor in popular books and among many parenting researchers. Other well-respected researchers point out important instances where punishment can be beneficial if implemented appropriately together with positive reinforcement. In this chapter, we summarize the research on punishment, ranging from parental use of timeout to the clinical use of mild electric shocks to treat severe self-destructive behaviors that are otherwise resistant to change. We find that the bifurcation of research into causally informative studies of clinical child cases and correlational studies of more representative samples have prevented progress on how consistent mild punishment can enhance positive parenting techniques such as reasoning and negotiation, especially in children with oppositional defiance. We need better punishment research to help parents, because most of them will use some kind of punishment sometimes.

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Correspondence to Robert E. Larzelere .

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Larzelere, R.E., Reitman, D., Ortiz, C., Cox, R.B. (2023). Parental Punishment: Don’t Throw Out the Baby with the Bathwater. In: Frisby, C.L., Redding, R.E., O'Donohue, W.T., Lilienfeld, S.O. (eds) Ideological and Political Bias in Psychology. Springer, Cham.

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