Little Actions. Big Impact!

All the tools you need to help your child learn and grow

from PA Promise in partnership with OCDEL

Challenging Behaviors and Your Child

Angry preschool girl

Spanking a child may increase aggression in a child, and may actually do long term harm to a child, says a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The AAP released an updated policy statement about the harmful effects spanking can have on children. The use of spanking is also ineffective in teaching a child responsibility and self-control. New evidence shows that it may actually cause harm by impacting a child's normal brain development.

Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes to a child's brain. Harsh verbal abuse is also linked to mental health problems as children get older.

There are other methods to teach children right from wrong that are safer and more effective. Depending on the age and development of a child, other methods may include:

  • redirecting their attention
  • distraction
  • changing the subject
  • positive reinforcement
  • time out and
  • natural consequences.

Check out these resources for families for more information or assistance in your role as a parent.

Contact your Early Learning Resource Center for more information about these programs and others in your community.

  • Pennsylvania's Family Centers provide community services to help families become healthier, better educated and self-sufficient. Family Centers help families engage in parent education and child development activities.
  • Family Check-Up for families with young children is designed to help parents address challenges that arise with young children before these concerns become more serious or problematic. 
  • Healthy Families America is a nationally recognized evidence-based home visiting program model designed to work with overburdened families who are at-risk for adverse childhood experiences, including child maltreatment.
  • Nurse-Family Partnership helps low-income, first-time parents experience healthy pregnancies, promotes early literacy and encourages school readiness by helping mothers learn how to foster healthy child development. 
  • Parents As Teachers provides home visits with trained experts who educate parents on how to become the first and most important teacher in their child’s life.

Concerned about your child’s development?

Call Pennsylvania’s CONNECT Helpline at 1-800-692-7288 for information about your child’s development and connecting to Early Intervention services in Pennsylvania.

Call Child Care Works Helpline at 1-877-4-PA-KIDS (1-877-472-5437) for information about finding, paying for and other concerns related to child care.

Learn more about these Helplines