Parents, I’m Sick To My Stomach Over This…

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As you know, I truly enjoy reporting positive and healing medical information for you, dear reader.

And that is the plan for the next 7 weeks, as I walk you through your Chakras from a medical point of view and give you great ideas for supporting your inner healing.

But today… I’m sitting here with a knot in my stomach and here’s why. Please consider helping me spread this news:

There was a study recently published in Pediatrics (on July 2, 2012) looking at spanking and other forms of physical punishment.

As makes common sense, there have been many many studies that show the incidence of mental illness is significantly increased for an adult if that person was the victim of physical abuse as a child.

For example if the child had been neglected, witnessed the physical abuse of a parent, or suffered from emotional, sexual or physical abuse directly… they have a much higher chance of developing a mental disorder as an adult. Understandably so.

What the investigators of this latest study wanted to know is: does spanking increase a child’s chance of becoming mentally ill as an adult. It is known that abuse will… but would spanking alone do this?

Are children who are spanked or punished physically in any way (slapping, pushing, grabbing, shoving, hitting or spanking) but WITHOUT any form of maltreatment… only physical discipline alone... at an increased chance of developing mental illness as an adult?


For the purposes of this study, spanking and other socially acceptable forms of physical discipline was not considered maltreatment…

although after you read the results of this study, it is my hope that you will begin to consider that it leads to similar results as other forms of abuse.

The reason this study is important, is that while physical punishment is uncommon and even illegal in other parts of the world, in North America it is a common form of punishment throughout the United States and Canada.

Physical discipline is used in roughly half of our homes (49%). So yep, most likely one out of every two of your friends are using physical punishment on their own children.


These researchers looked at over 34,000 adults in the United States, and put the study through very rigid parameters.

Even though almost half of the population uses physical punishment, by the time they included all those who met the criteria for being physically disciplined at least “sometimes”, yet excluded all those who were exposed to abuse (emotional, sexual, physical, neglect, or witnessing spousal abuse) there was only 6% of the population left (about 2,000) that fit the narrow inclusion criteria.


Of this these study participants, it was found that physical discipline alone, in the complete absence of any abuse or maltreatment, caused:

  • 50% more mood disorders (like depression or mania)
  • 40% more anxiety disorders (like panic, phobias, and PTSD)
  • 60% more alcohol and drug dependence
  • 30 -50% more personality disorders across the board


Yuck. Although the numbers were small (a 50% increase in mood disorders in a 6% population only shifts it’s prevalence by a few percentage points) the fact is that JUST PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT ALONE, in an otherwise normal and supportive family, SIGNIFICANTLY increases the chance of developing a mental disorder as an adult.


So you can see why I feel a bit sick over here.

Parenting is difficult. And one out of two of us have been physically disciplined when we were children, by well-meaning adults. Many adults who have had our the best intentions at heart. And many parents right now are innocently doing the same that was done to them. But now that we know better, we can do better.

This article proves beyond a shadow of any doubt that all forms of physical punishment are forms of mental abuse, increasing the likelihood of a serious mental disorder by the time that child grows into an adult by up to 60%.

Completely independent of any other form of child maltreatment.
I admire the 32 countries that have banned childhood physical punishment.

With your help in understanding the impact these socially acceptable forms of physical punishment (like spanking or grabbing) I am hopefully that we can educate ourselves and our loved ones about other ways to interact with our children, even when our buttons are being pushed.


It is possible to never spank a child.

And because I would never ever ever want to present something upsetting without offering lots of solutions… here are my very fav parenting books and free resources that help trouble shoot and problem solve in positive and healthy ways.

Ways that will make it less likely that a precious child will suffer from mental illness needlessly.



1. Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla Kabat-zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn — the first mindful parenting book I ever read and perhaps still my favorite… great food for thought for raising children all the way up through the teen years and beyond…

2. Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen PhD — thank you Gigi for sharing this amazing book with me… good for both older and younger children, it is a great reminder of why one of the best ways to resolve conflict is through PLAY!

3. Busy But Balanced by Mimi Doe — I enjoy the book (little ideas on easy ways to reconnect with your children despite super busy lifestyles… great for working moms) but actually appreciate the free monthly newsletter even more — click the link to hop over to her website and sign up!

4. Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear, 2nd Edition by Pam Leo — great problem solving advice from the perspective of reconnecting with your child as a natural means to solve conflict.

5. Heart Centered Parenting by Laura Koniver, MD — well you know it’s my fav because it’s all the best things I’ve learned about parenting, both as a physician and a mom, all in one instantly accessible ebook! Not only general parenting advice but also with an additional focus on how to tackle health obstacles with children in a fun, hands-on, interactive way. Parenting is the single best thing I’ve ever done in my life… and here is the inside scoop on how I do it!

6. Enjoy Parenting by Scott Noelle — not a book but rather a free daily parenting email that helps get your day started on the right foot, release struggles and move into the day with clarity. Pop on over and sign up for free!


Please share this important study finding and also this awesome list of parenting resources with all the mothers and fathers out there that you know and love.

And I’ll see you here next week to begin the exciting physician-approved run down of our body from head to toe!!!

Get the inside scoop on how I help patients approach each chakra for maximum health and healing!

xoxo, Laura