Association of Harsh Physical Disciplining and the Mental and Behavioral Health Problems among Pre-School Children in Ethiopia


  • Yonas Baheretibeb



Abstract Background: Harsh physical discipline may have an impact on the emotional and behavioral health and cognitive abilities of children and adolescents. There is little understanding of the association between harsh physical disci-pline and mental health issues in populations where harsh disciplinary measures are culturally normal.Objective: The primary objective of this research was to investigate the potential correlation between the use of harsh physical discipline methods and the development of mental and behavioral health issues in children. By ex-amining the impact of these disciplinary practices on the psychological well-being of children, this study sought to shed light on the potential long-term consequences of such parenting strategies. Through a thorough analysis of data collected from a diverse sample of families, the researchers aimed to provide valuable insights into the effects of harsh physical disciplining on child mental health outcomes. Methods: A cross-section survey was conducted on 358 pre-school children preschool children and their primary caregivers in ten randomly selected elementary schools in Addis Ababa. The Strengths and Difficulties (SDQ) questionnaire was used to measure the mental and behavioral health of the children. The Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale measured the primary caregivers' experience of harsh physical discipline.Result: The study found that more than two of the three primary caregivers witnessed the harsh physical discipline of pre-school children in their lifetime. The study also showed that the likelihood of having any of the mental or behavioral problems was higher among children who experienced harsh physical discipline. AOR = 5.8; 95% CI, 1.7, 17.4). It was also higher among preschool children in the second (AOR = 2.9; 95% CI, (1.2, 7.0)) order of birth and children perceived to have a moderate AOR = 5.0; 95% CI, (1.1, 23.4) and a lower AOR = 17.0; 95% CI, 17.0 (1.3, 218) school performance.Conclusion This study has revealed a concerning connection between the physical discipline of preschool-aged children and the development of mental and behavioral health issues. The findings underscore the importance of policymakers and stakeholders in implementing interventions to prevent harsh verbal and physical discipline of young children. Society as a whole must prioritize the well-being and emotional health of our youngest members, and taking steps to promote positive and nurturing forms of discipline is essential in safeguarding their overall development and future success. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2024; 38(1): 00-00]Keywords: Physical discipline, mental/ behavioral health problem, preschool children




How to Cite

Yonas Baheretibeb. (2024). Association of Harsh Physical Disciplining and the Mental and Behavioral Health Problems among Pre-School Children in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 38(1).



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