5 Effects of Physical Discipline

In the past, physical discipline was more common. Even to this day, because there is no law that protects people from it, it is still practiced in many homes and schools. But researchers have discovered that physical discipline, whether it’s mild or severe, can create consequences that may last a lifetime for individuals who have experienced it. Psych2Go shares with you 5 effects of physical discipline:

1. Physical Effects

Depending on the severity of the physical discipline, it’s more than just bruises, burns, and cuts. Not only is there immediate pain, but there is suffering. Physical effects of physical discipline include stuttering, sleep disruption, and can even lead to psychosomatic disorders, which is when the individual is affected by their thoughts of the pain. The physical effects may be worsened from the stress they feel, which can make it hard to heal from. In serious cases, the individual can suffer side effects, such as vomiting, seizures, paralysis, and death.

2. Emotional Effects

People often think that a little spanking never hurts anyone—perhaps, the physical pain isn’t that severe, but the emotional consequences can sometimes last for a lifetime. Emotional effects of physical discipline include excessive crying, anxiety, depression, anger and hostility, low self-esteem, self-blaming tendencies, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and in serious cases, contemplation of suicide. People who have experienced physical discipline often struggle with developing a strong, stable sense of self-identity. They may also have difficulty separating their failures from their self-worth, because they were conditioned to believe that it is only when their performance is good that they are valuable.

3. Social Effects

When people experience physical discipline, it affects their ability to trust others. This can take a toll on the relationship they try to build because they may fear intimacy and have a hard time opening up and being vulnerable. Depending on how severe the physical discipline is, the individual may not want to be as physically close to anyone. People can blow hot and cold or unpredictable behavior to potential partners who want to offer love and support. Since they can suffer from low self-esteem, if not careful, they may also end up in physically and/or emotionally abusive relationships and have a difficult time leaving them.

4. Health Effects

Health effects of physical discipline potentially include a higher risk of developing heart, liver, or lung problems, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse. People who have experienced physical discipline may develop these health problems because of the stress or trauma they face. For instance, they may develop eating disorders from the anxiety or self-image issues that come from physical discipline or try to numb or escape feelings of hopelessness and depression by using drugs and alcohol. It’s unfortunate, but depending on the severity, to the individual, self-sabotage doesn’t compare to the pain they’ve felt from the infliction of pain from their parents.

5. Academic & Occupational Effects

Children who experience physical discipline may develop problems paying attention (ADHD), lower cognitive and language skills, and lack of motivation to do work. People who experience severe physical discipline may end up staying back in school and repeating grades or dropping out of school. As they enter adulthood, they may have difficulty completing daily tasks in work and jump from job to job without finding a purpose or meaning to commit.


Do you struggle with these effects of physical discipline? We understand the harsh reality of it and recovery can be a slow, painful journey. Please share your story with us and leave a comment down below.


Want to say hello or send a personal message? You can reach the author at catherine@psych2go.net. ♥


If you enjoyed this article, then you may also like 6 Side Effects of Toxic Parenting or 10 Ways to Deal with Toxic People.


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Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect. (2018). Joyful Heart Foundation. Retrieved March 22, 2018.

Effects of Child Physical Abuse. (2015, May 14). South Eastern Casa. Retrieved March 22, 2018.

Gluck, S. (2017). Effects of Child Physical Abuse. Healthy Place. Retrieved March 22, 2018.

Tracy, N. (2017). Effects of Physical Abuse, Pictures of Physical Abuse. Healthy Place. Retrieved March 22, 2018.

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  1. Hi, a very sad topic but a very relevant and real issue that needs to be tackled. I noticed that in the introduction you mention that there is no law against physical discipline, and I’m wondering if that is a little too general. Of course, laws change depending on location, but in many places now there are laws against physical abuse. Although there will still places where the laws are not strict enough about physical abuse, it may come across as a bit too general to say overall that there are no laws – it may be more appropriate to say that despite laws in most places, most cases of physical discipline go undetected.

    Overall though, you have made a series of well written and developed points. You could develop them even further by talking briefly about studies, such studies investigating the effects on cognitive ability or health complications. Even without this though, it is still a great article!.