Little is known about the conditions surrounding the occurrence of physical punishment. Toward that end, telephone interviews were conducted for 14 days with 39 college-educated mothers of 3-year-old children. The majority of mothers (77%) reported spanking an average of 2.5 times per week. Of 537 serious child misbehaviors, notably aggression, were more likely than other misdeeds to elicit spankings. However, parent effects were more evident. Positive attitudes toward spanking, and to a lesser extent, negative moods were linked to spankings. Parental use of physical punishment is important to understand in its own right but also reveals the interplay of variables that determine parental behavior.
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