Almost every stressed out parent at one time or another feels the temptation to spank a child. Some parents today still swear by it as the most effective form of discipline, while others say it is child abuse, plain and simple.

Research highlighted in a US News and World Report article adds more validity to the assertion that spanking is harmful to children. Researchers in Canada found that up to 7 percent of a range of mental health disorders were associated with physical punishment, which included spanking and other forms of hitting or shoving. Best reference of

A separate study published in 2009 in Pediatrics also indicates spanking is an inappropriate form of discipline. Researchers at Tulane University found that kids' short-term response to spanking led to them to act out more in the long run, according to a Time Magazine article. Of the 2,500 kids in the study, those spanked more frequently at age 3 were more likely to be aggressive by age 5.


Disciplining a child is never simple, but there are many of alternatives to physical punishment that can be just as effective. These methods tend to be more effective in encouraging behavior changes, as well.

Here are some better ways to discipline a child:

Time-out for the child: This is a common strategy used by parents. For time-outs to work best, be sure that you are placing the child in an isolated place with no toys, television or playmates in range. Be consistent about how much time the child will spend in time-out and consider setting a timer, so the child knows an end is in sight.  The rule of thumb is that a child should be in time out for one minute for each age of the child.  Time-out is appropriate for ages 3 to 6, but not younger or older.

Time-out for the parent: Parents are most tempted to spank when they are tired or frustrated. If you feel a rush of anger coming on, give yourself a time-out by leaving the room for a moment or asking another adult to take over.  Once you have calmed down, go back and talk to your child about the problem, and decide if a punishment such as a loss of privileges is appropriate.

·Loss of privileges: If your child will not follow a rule, make it clear that the consequence will be the loss of a toy or game for a younger child or computer or phone time for an older child. This could also apply to outings, such as the loss of a trip to the zoo or a sleepover at a friend's house. Available resource about, you can check out...

· Distraction/positive redirection: Often with younger children, a simple distraction or redirection to a new activity is enough to interrupt their behavior. For example, if the child is jumping on the furniture and not responding to requests to stop, try redirecting the child toward a more constructive activity. If you make it seem fun, your child will be excited to engage with you.

· Positive reinforcement over negative: Another tool to improve your child's discipline is to praise their good behavior, especially when it is something you want your child to increase. Try rewarding your child with verbal praise or even additional time with a favorite activity for behaving so well at the grocery store that day, for example. The more you draw their attention to the good behavior, the more they'll want to please you again.  Younger children respond well to stickers and stamps, but be consistent with your positive reinforcement.  Don't threaten to withhold positive reinforcement, just "catch them being good."

There are more resources for disciplinary alternatives to spanking. Visit DisciplineToday for more advice on this topic. And if you're really struggling to effectively discipline your child, consider making an appointment with a qualified professional who can help you develop and effective, and safe behavior plan.
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