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Teen Mom sparks discipline debate with spanking of her little girl (VIDEO)

Ashley Austrew is a freelance writer who loves tacos, Target and screen time. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, The Stir, Mommyish and more.

Leah Messer loses her cool with daughter on Teen Mom 2

We all have those moments as parents when we lose our cool, but when you're a reality star, those moments get broadcast to the entire world. For better or worse, people are going to talk, and there's no doubt Teen Mom 2 star Leah Messer is feeling the heat after a preview from the show's upcoming episode showed her spanking her child.

More: Teen Mom's Leah Messer slams ex's claims that she's an 'unfit mother' (VIDEO)

If you keep up with the show, it's obvious Messer is dealing with more than her share of stress. The 23-year-old is mom to three rambunctious daughters, and she's embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband, Corey Simms. As if that weren't enough, she's also in the middle of a split with her current husband, Jeremy Calvert.

More: Teen Mom's Leah Messer entered rehab for an unexpected reason

In a sneak preview of tonight's Teen Mom 2 episode, Messer is shown breaking up fights between her kids, cleaning up messes and dealing with those motherhood stresses we all feel. At one point she loses her cool with her daughter Aleeah Grace, yelling, "I've had enough! I don't know why you're acting like this," before taking the child to another room and spanking her.

Watch the drama unfold:

Spanking is a hot topic among today's parents, and there's no doubt many will take issue with Messer's decision to hit her daughter. Hitting kids was common just a couple of decades ago, but recent research seems to suggest the consequences could be more serious than we realize.

More: 5 Reasons you shouldn't spank your kid

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a recent study published in Child Abuse and Neglect showed that kids who are spanked regularly are more likely to harbor aggression and resort to physical violence when trying to resolve conflicts with peers and siblings. Over time, this pent-up aggression can lead to antisocial behavior, physical injuries and mental health problems for children.

Similarly, a study last year on physical punishment showed spanking actually reduces the amount of gray matter in kids' brains. According to the report, kids who were spanked just once a month over a period of three years had less gray matter in their prefrontal cortex. Gray matter directly affects our decision-making and thought-processing abilities, so when we have less of it, we also have less impulse control. That means spanking kids can actually make them more impulsive and likely to act out.

More: Dad asked police to watch him spank his 12-year-old daughter (VIDEO)

Obviously we all have moments when we lose our cool and snap, and Messer is not immune to the struggles we face. Young kids are not easy to handle, even for the most veteran of moms. We have to remember, though, that spanking has fallen out of fashion for some good reasons.

It may not be what we want to hear, but a lot of science supports the argument that finding new discipline strategies is a must. Hopefully Messer is able to find some alternative ways to discipline her kids and to help eliminate some of the insane stress she must be feeling.

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