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Child physical punishment, parenting, and school readiness

TitleChild physical punishment, parenting, and school readiness
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsWeegar, K., Guérin-Marion C., Fréchette S., and Romano É.
JournalInfant and Child Development
Pages1 - 22
Keywordschild physical punishment, parenting, school readiness

This study explored how physical punishment (PP) and other parenting approaches may predict school readiness outcomes. By using the Canada-wide representative data, 5,513 children were followed over a 2-year period. Caregivers reported on their use of PP and other parenting approaches (i.e., literacy and learning activities and other disciplinary practices) when children were 2-3 years old, whereas school readiness was measured at 4-5 years using interviewer-administered tests of number competence and receptive vocabulary skills. Analyses controlled for PP use at 4-5 years, child externalizing behaviours, and various sociodemographics. Results indicated that PP does not directly predict school readiness; however, the effect of PP was moderated by other parenting approaches. Children's receptive vocabulary was weaker if caregivers used PP together with less frequent explaining/teaching regarding problem behaviour, or PP with less frequent engagement in literacy and learning activities. Children had weaker number competence when PP co-occurred with more frequent psychological aggression (e.g., yelling/scolding). Results suggest that PP hinders children's school readiness when used alongside other parenting approaches, which reflects the reality of parenting (i.e., PP does not occur in isolation). Findings support early education efforts aimed at promoting early learning and literacy opportunities, as well as positive disciplinary strategies that do not involve PP.

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