Research: Harsh Parenting Increases Kids’ Risk of Poor Health, Obesity

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AMES, Iowa – New research out of Iowa State University suggests that harsh parenting may increase a child’s risk for poor physical health and obesity later on in life.

Assistant professor Thomas Schofield defines harsh parenting as “parents who reject, coerce, are physically aggressive and are self-centered.”

Schofield said harsh parenting creates a chronic stressful environment for the child, and his research found that exposure to chronic stress can have a lasting effect on the developing brain during childhood and early adolescence. Similar research has found that there are negative biological responses to chronic stress, including chronic release of hormones, inflammation and lower cardiovascular reactivity.

Schofield’s research also shows that “good cop” parenting is not enough to counterbalance “bad cop” parenting.

“The best thing we can do is encourage parents to not be harsh. If we want to make sure we’re protecting children’s health and positive physical health into young adulthood, the best and safest conclusion is to avoid being harsh,” Schofield said.

For more information on the research, click here.