Affectionate Mothering

Have you ever wondered if you are being too hard on your children? Have you ever thought that every time you treat them harshly, you will leave a permanent emotional scar in their lives?

I know I have.

But I'm encouraged by a study of Mexican-American adolescents. The researchers concluded that negative effects of harsh discipline are softened by a loving mother. Contrary to a lot of current thought in our culture, "the use of harsh parental discipline does not automatically result in antisocial behaviour in the child."

In other words, spanking and other "strict" consequences could lead to negative behavior in children, but not so much if the general family environment is that of love. This is especially true when mothers are attentive and nurturing to their children.

Even during play time, mothers of young children can often be directive, correcting behaviors (such as telling the child to put the toy cow through the door of the toy barn, instead of its window). Directive behavior is not as damaging if the mother stays away from a negative and critical tone (see this study from Parenting: Science and Practice).

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