Nashville Dads: Best ways to discipline your kids

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Every parent wants the best for their child. And naturally we focus on the good stuff.

But we too were kids once and know well there are tough days, involving discipline.

“My dad would tell me to get a switch from the tree out back,” says Megan Lynch.

“I definitely remember it,” says Jonathan Smith. “And (I remember) being scared of it.”

When talking about child discipline or spanking, it is a sensitive issue.

Images like a wooden spoon or belt can stir up mixed feelings for today’s parents, who may have been spanked when they were younger.

“It’s sad to me, it’s heart-breaking,” Lynch says. “The anticipation was most of the punishment, the hitting was just secondary.”

“It’s not something I believe in,” says Devon Nickels.

Licensed clinical social worker Beth Hail, a vice president of Centerstone, still sees it.

“We still have quite a few families spanking, or using objects to discipline,” Hail says.

She doesn’t agree with it, and says the child tends to learn more about fear than about the lesson a parent wants to convey.

What she recommends, if you have a little one, start early with rules.

“Children as young as a year old are starting to learn the difference between right and wrong,” she says.

And more rules early will lead to less discipline later. Hail recommends reinforcing positives. Noticing good behavior may result in less bad behavior.

“They like that positive attention to hear from mommy or daddy about what they did well.”

And finally, be consistent, wavering on those rules sends mixed messages.

“That makes it very difficult for the child to understand how to navigate,” Hail says.

Like our kids, the discipline debate is not slowing down. The responsibility rests on moms and dads to get it right.

“Everything we do sends a message to them,” says Lynch. “They’re great imitators, so you may as well give them something great to imitate.”

It’s up to us.

Click here for all stories included in WKRN’s Nashville Dads reports.