Is spanking appropriate punishment?

Parents and experts discuss effective discipline

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The styles may be different, but in every home where there are children, there is some form of discipline. But when it comes to kids and bad behavior: what’s allowed, and what’s effective?

Massachusetts’ highest court recently established some legal guidelines for the use of physical punishment. They said its okay to spank children if a reasonable force is used and the child isn’t hurt.

One expert told 22News the recommendations aren’t specific enough. A parent who was hit with a belt as a child might consider that reasonable; while someone who was never spanked might oppose any physical punishment.

“Spanking them or striking them teaches them that’s how we control people. They will use it with other people later in their lives. In controlling other children in day care when they want something or in controlling you perhaps later, when they’re big and you’re not quite so intimidating,” said Baystate Family Advocacy Center.

Dr. Boos recommends a loss of privileges or time-out. We found one mother who prefers a time-in, talking together about rules and expectations.

“I wasn’t ever spanked as a child and I found any time I was separated or sent to my room I felt it never really helped me work through what I was dealing with so I don’t want to have my children experience that,”

But parents admitted it’s not always easy to stay calm.

“I tried spanking once and I just felt really awful and guilty and it didn’t really solve anything. You can communicate with them and tell them you’re disappointed in them,”

Guilbault said she’s also found it helps to incorporate emotions, talking with her girls about how their behavior made other people feel.

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