Parent Spanking and Verbal Punishment, and Young Child Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors in Latino Immigrant Families: Test of Moderation by Context and Culture

R. Gabriela Barajas-Gonzalez, Esther Calzada, Keng Yen Huang, Maite Covas, Claudia M. Castillo, Laurie M. Brotman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


SYNOPSIS: Objective. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of spanking and verbal punishment in a community sample of Latino immigrant families with young children, as well as the association of spanking and verbal punishment with child internalizing and externalizing problems 1 year later. Parenting context (e.g., warmth) and cultural context (e.g., the cultural value of respeto) are considered as potential moderators. Design. Parenting and cultural socialization practices were assessed via parent self-report in a sample of 633 Mexican and Dominican American immigrant families with young children (M age = 4.43 years). Parent and teacher assessments of child internalizing and externalizing were also collected at baseline and 12 months later. Results. At Time 1, male child gender was positively correlated with concurrent spanking; familial social support and U.S. American cultural knowledge were negatively correlated with mothers’ spanking. Verbal punishment at Time 1 was associated with externalizing problems at Time 2 among both Mexican and Dominican American children, and this relation was not moderated. Additionally, verbal punishment was associated with Time 2 child internalizing problems among Mexican American children. There were no significant associations between spanking and later child internalizing or externalizing behaviors. Conclusion. It is important that researchers examine both physical and verbal discipline strategies to understand their unique influences on Latino child outcomes, as well as contextual influences that may elucidate the use and long-term effects of spanking and verbal punishment on Latino children at different developmental stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-239
Number of pages24
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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