Study: Middle school students need less punishment - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Study: Middle school students need less punishment


If your child’s falling behind in school, do you take away the iPod? Maybe no TV for a week?

Well a new study shows those tough parenting methods may not be the answer.

The Journal of Family Psychology researched more than 500 middle school children and found that punishment leads more often to poor grades on a report card.

But rather supportive homes with parents that regularly talk to their children and provide them with toys and books lead to better resources to learn.

SIU associate professor, Dr. Grant Miller who works with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, said students middle school are encountering a lot of different changes from what they experienced in elementary school.

“It might be things like citing evidence to support a claim," Miller said. "It might be things like comparing and contrasting two different sources – maybe conflicting sources. And so in that respect it might be that the lack of motivation isn’t directly where the punishment is appropriate to take away television, but to really see where that child or the student is requiring some additional help, so tutoring might be very appropriate.”

Study lead author, Sandra Tang, a research fellow in the University of Michigan Psychology Department says one of the biggest things for parents to remember is that sometimes a child’s under-academic performance could be the result of a learning issue rather than a behavioral issue.

"Those strategies that parents can use to address those poor school performance should really reflect on what is the reason their kids are having those low grades," Tang said.

Tang says punishment could be helpful if the student is not spending enough time on their schoolwork, but less helpful if the student isn't understanding the concept, "like knowing how to understand a math problem," she said.

Researchers suggest having the students understand why the material is important, tutoring if it’s needed, and developing strong relationships your child’s teachers. 

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