You might think in today’s world of soft disciplinary parenting most moms and dads aren’t beating their little diaper terrorists as a means of making them obey, but a new study finds that they actually are -- just not when they think someone “important” is looking.

Researchers from Michigan State University recently conducted a covert study operation in which they spied on 106 caregivers and watched the ways that they disciplined their children in public places.

What they found was that nearly 23 percent of them resorted to “negative touch,” which includes violent disciplinary measures like spanking, pinching and hitting in order to get junior to stop acting like a spoiled brat and follow orders.

According to lead researcher Kathy Stansbury, these discoveries suggest that most social science research in parenting misses out on these types of incidents.

"I have also seen hundreds of kids and their parents in a lab setting, and never once witnessed any of this behavior," Stansbury said.

While Stansbury and the rest of the research staff are not interested in debating whether spanking is okay, they are deeply involved with finding out more about the effects of positive and negative touch in discipline.

The good news is that while 23 percent of the 106 caregivers did in fact use negative disciplinary actions, 33 percent simply used a hug, a tickle or gentle guidance, while 38 percent did not touch the child at all.

However, when it came time to dish out the discipline, male caregivers appear to administer negative and positive touch equally between the boys and girls, while female caregivers geared the use of negative touch towards the boys.

The study also found no evidence to suggest that negative touch was more likely to get children to obey than other positive techniques. Typically, the happier the kid, the more likely he or she was to behave.

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