Image for child spanking article Your child is throwing the temper tantrum of the century. Scratching, hitting, biting, spitting, and screaming—it cannot get much worse. What do you do? Do you spank your child or will that just make matters worse?

Spanking is one of the most controversial forms of child discipline. Most child development professionals agree that spanking is ineffective and may lead to more aggressive behavior. But many individuals and groups support or encourage spanking as part of a disciplinary approach for children. According to the National Survey of Early Childhood Health, other commonly used forms of discipline include taking away toys or treats, yelling, using time out, and giving explanations.

So what should parents do? Is spanking the best way to discipline children or are other methods more effective?

Discipline is a way of teaching children the restraint and values necessary to become competent and independent adults. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an effective discipline system contains three vital elements:

  • A learning environment characterized by positive, supportive parent-child relationships
  • A strategy for teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors
  • A strategy for decreasing and eliminating undesired behaviors

Most parents reward good behaviors and punish bad behaviors. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) suggests rewarding your child’s good behavior with things like:

  • Praise
  • An extra bedtime story
  • Delaying bedtime by a half hour
  • A preferred snack
  • Points toward a special toy or privilege

Bad behaviors, on the other hand, can by punished by:

  • Ignoring your child
  • Sending your child to time-out
  • Taking away privileges

Many parents report that they use spanking to punish unacceptable behaviors, but most child development professionals agree that spanking is among the least effective forms of discipline.