Monthly Article Archives: March 2001

Perspectives on Discipline: Does Spanking Really Have a Role? – Part IRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

Many of the questions I receive in my parenting workshops, in my clinical practice, and in e-mails concern the topic of discipline. The importance of this topic is reflected in the large number of books and magazine articles advising parents of the most effective ways to discipline their children. In reaction to displays of aggression in society, law enforcement officials as well as politicians will frequently provide their own opinions on disciplinary approaches. Not surprisingly, the suggestions offered by child development specialists about discipline represent a wide spectrum of views, many of which seem to contradict each other. As a parent noted in one of my workshops, “The more I read, the more confused I become about discipline.” I can understand why. I recently read two articles by child specialists, one of whom advocated parents using timeout, while another questioned the efficacy of that practice. There are many different aspects about discipline that I have been discussing for years. Interestingly, in the last few months I have noticed an increase in the number of questions pertaining to corporal punishment or spanking. One father said that he read that “if kids don’’t listen, a spanking can serve a useful function.” This

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