Grace Stryker Appelbaum, Lindsey M. Beattie, Kari Lynn Powers, Grace Marie Schneider, Oluwayemisi Omobonike Tayo-Ayorinde


Presentation: 10:45-12:00, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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The link between parents’ use of physical discipline and children’s social development is well established, with research indicating that more frequent physical discipline is associated with higher levels of aggression and delinquency (externalizing problems) and depression and anxiety (internalizing problems) in childhood and adolescence. However, the link between physical discipline and children’s social development based on their individual and family characteristics is not well understood, and findings from past research are mixed. The present study examined the link between physical discipline in childhood and outcomes in adolescence using a longitudinal survey design to understand their relationship over time better. Also, consistent with the goodness-of-fit framework, we tested whether the association between physical discipline and child and adolescent outcomes would vary according to children’s temperament and parental warmth.These links were tested using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 (longitudinal study of mothers; NLSY79), and the children of the NLSY79, which included 11,000+ children from birth to age 17. Parental use of physical discipline and spanking were measured in childhood, and delinquency, risk-taking, self-efficacy, externalizing, and internalizing problems were measured when offspring were between the ages of 10 and 17. Analyses will be conducted using multiple regression, and child temperament and age, family SES and race/ethnicity, and parental warmth will be included as control variables, to reduce confounding of the relationship between different parenting behaviors and outcomes in adolescence. Findings will be discussed in terms of their relation to past research and their implications for the role of parents in shaping children’s social development.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Jackson A. Goodnight

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals


How do the effects of physical discipline and gentle parenting vary by child characteristics and/or parenting characteristics?