Magazine article Newsweek

The Debate over Discipline

Magazine article Newsweek

The Debate over Discipline

Article excerpt

YOUR KID IS FLINGING food, whacking his sister and screaming endlessly. What do you do? As you carefully consider your range of choices, consider this: how you discipline your child in the early years will go a long way in determining whether your child turns into a nightmare by the time he's 3. Hit him and he may turn into a noncaring scoundrel. Ignore her and her obnoxious behavior will escalate. Child-rearing techniques can be as varying as fashion. A look at some methods:

* For this generation of educated middle-class parents, spanking is as politically incorrect as smoking. "My parents spanked us, but I don't think it's a good idea," says Terry Standenmaier, the Baltimore mother of 2-year-old Gabe. The NEWSWEEK Poll showed that 31 percent of parents spanked sometimes or often. But experts say parents should avoid the practice. "Spanking and physical force in general accomplish quick compliance but build up resentment, anger, fear of the parent," says Martin Hoffman, psychology professor at New York University. Studies also show that spanking isn't especially effective, anyway. Families who start spanking before their children are a year old are as likely to spank their 4-year-olds as often as are families who start spanking later --suggesting the children aren't learning any lessons.

* The "humane" alternative to spanking, the timeout, has gained popularity over the last decade as a quick method to cool off a wayward kid. The NEWSWEEK Poll showed that 71 percent of parents often or sometimes used timeouts. …

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