A new study just revealed that getting angry, shaking, shouting or hitting at your kids can literally shrink the neural structures related to anxiety and depression in their brain. The researchers from the University of Montreal and Stanford University found that kids raised with harsh parenting methods developed smaller prefrontal cortexes and amygdala, two brain areas that play an essential role in emotional regulation.

Regrettably, severe and violent parenting practices are still widespread and even considered socially acceptable in many parts of the world. According to Dr. Sabrina Suffren, who led the study, "The implications go beyond changes in the brain. I think what's important is for parents and society to understand that the frequent use of harsh parenting practices can harm a child's development." (Infrequent use probably doesn't do any good either.)

The Canadian-Californian research team hopes that their findings will encourage parents to apply gentler parenting strategies. In the UK, for example, it's unlawful for parents, carers and teachers to smack children, except in the case of "reasonable punishment". But how can we speak of "reasonable" "punishment?" Two terms that are hardly compatible in education.

Picture: Harsh Parenting (YouTube)