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Punishment and reward in parental discipline for children aged 5 to 6 years: prevalence and groups at risk

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Author: Theunissen, M.H.C. · Vogels, A.G.C. · Reijneveld, S.A.
Source:Academic Pediatrics, 1, 15, 96-102
Identifier: 524749
Keywords: Health · Children · Discipline · Parenting practices · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living · Life · CH - Child Health · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


OBJECTIVE: In this study we examined the use and predictors of different discipline practices by parents of children aged 5 to 6 years. METHODS: We obtained cross-sectional data for a nationally representative Dutch sample of children aged 5 to 6 years within the setting of routine well-child visits provided to the entire population. A total of 1630 children participated (response rate, 84%). Before the visit, parents completed a questionnaire with questions about their approach to discipline (punishment and rewards). Chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations between discipline practices and child, parent, and family factors. RESULTS: Parental punishment prevalence was 21.9% for spanking and 80.3% for other punishment practices, such as time-outs. The prevalence of rewards as a discipline strategy was 32.2% for granting privileges and 86.3% for cuddling/complimenting. Multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that spanking was more likely in families in which the mothers have low and medium levels of education and in families of non-Dutch ethnicity. Other punishment practices (eg, time-outs, verbal reprimands, and holding) were more likely in families of Dutch ethnicity. Granting privileges was more likely in families of non-Dutch ethnicity, who lived in large cities, whose income was below the poverty level, in unemployed families, and in small families. Cuddling and complimenting were more likely in families with a high maternal educational level, in families of Dutch ethnicity, and in small families. CONCLUSIONS: These findings show the importance of considering social and economic factors when identifying and supporting parents with parenting/rearing challenges. Copyright © 2015 by Academic Pediatric Association.