81 percent of parents threaten to either leave their kids or send them away, reveals study

Updated: Mar 26, 2018, 18:12 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

According to a recent survey, the reinforcement of such methods starts with problematic parenting styles and ends up making children weaker. Child behaviour experts agree with these findings

Graphic/ Ravi Jadhav

Are you the kind of parent who lures their child with their favourite toy or chocolate to complete a task, or the type that threatens them with dire consequences if they don't? If yes is the answer to either, you might want to rethink what you're doing, because bribery and threats are also methods used by paedophiles to lure and abuse children.

According to a recent survey, the reinforcement of such methods starts with problematic parenting styles and ends up making children weaker. Child behaviour experts agree with these findings.

The survey was conducted in January by the Podar Institute of Eucation, with help of member schools of Early Childhood Association (ECA). It was released this month after rigorous interviews with 3,000 parents of children aged between 3-12 years in Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and Chennai.

Time to educate parents
"The results are indeed worrisome. It is time to educate parents about discipline methods employing negative reinforcement that can actually make your child susceptible to threats used by abusers and paedophiles," said Swati Popat, president, ECA.

Explaining how this survey came about, she said, "It all started when many parents began questioning why their child was not telling them if someone had harmed them or why they were listening to the perpetrator. We analysed this further and found out that bribery, threatening or keeping secrets, common ways used by parents to discipline children, are also the tactics used by child abusers."

The survey report stated, "Safety... can also be compromised by unknowingly practicing negative reinforcement parenting techniques that can actually teach children to be scared of adults who threaten them, and have them keep the injustice being done to them as a secret."

'Worrisome trend'
Popat added, "It is a worrisome trend when linked with the rising instances of child sexual abuse. We are not saying that this could be the cause of the increase in sexual abuse cases, but it definitely brings to light what parents can do to not let their children become an easy prey of paedophiles smart enough to identify and use their weakness against them. We also urge schools and teachers to be aware of the same and not include it as part of their disciplining in schools."

Illustration/ Ravi Jadhav

Betting on threats
81%: Parents admitted to threatening their children
33%: Parents threaten child with sending them to boarding school
26%: Parents threaten children by hitting them
12%: Parents tell children how a bogeyman will take them away
11%: Parents also tell children how mom and dad will go away
(Figures from survey conducted by Podar Institute of Education with member schools of ECA)

Experts weigh in
Dr. Seema Hingorany,
Clinical psychologist
'This emotionally immature way of parenting dangerously impacts the child's personality. Threatening children for anything will never build the confidence needed to share things with parents if they are being harmed.'

Arundhati Chavan,
President, state PTA forum
'Rewarding children for a good job would be positive, but it is very important to give the child a proper explanation for it. There is a need to create awareness among the new generation of parents regarding this.'

Also Read: Parenting Behaviour Can Raise Babies' Risk Of Obesity

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