How Can Parents Discipline Without Spanking?

When I was little, my parents spanked me when I misbehaved. Now that I'm a parent, I'm not so sure that I want to follow in their footsteps. Are there other discipline measures that work?

It's good that you're thinking about your approach to discipline and that you're giving lots of consideration to the effects of your choices and practices. Many parents settle on a discipline method just because it's how they were raised — and never give it another thought. But we now know more about the effects of different methods of disciplining than was known years ago.

Spanking can be humiliating for children, can cause anger, aggression, and resentment, can cause physical harm, and often does not teach the lesson you're trying to convey. For these reasons, experts do not recommend spanking.

Other ways to discipline kids effectively include using timeouts, withholding privileges, modeling appropriate behavior, and helping kids understand the connection between actions and consequences.

If you feel you need more guidance, talk to your doctor or contact a child psychologist or counselor and ask to have a couple of sessions just to discuss and plan new discipline strategies. Chances are, you'll learn a lot, enjoy success with some new approaches, and feel better than ever about your parenting.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: August 2011

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