How can I discipline my child without spanking?

Q: How can I discipline my child without spanking?
When my kids were little, I always spanked them when they misbehaved-I guess because that's the way I was raised. My oldest, now 16, just told me that my spankings used to give her nightmares. Now I'm having second thoughts about spanking. I certainly don't want to haunt my kids' dreams. Is there another way to discipline?
Linda

A: It's good that you're being open-minded about your approach to discipline and that you're giving lots of thought to the effects of your choices and practices. Many parents settle on a discipline method just because it's how they were raised-and never give it another thought. So congratulations on being a thoughtful parent.

Spanking can be humiliating for children, can cause anger and resentment, can cause physical harm, and does not necessarily teach the lesson you're trying to convey. For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend spanking. Other ways to discipline kids effectively include using time outs, modeling appropriate behavior, and helping kids understand the connection between actions and consequences.

If you feel you need more guidance, talk to your doctor or contact a child psychologist or counselor and ask to have a couple of sessions just to discuss and plan new discipline strategies. Chances are, you'll learn a lot, enjoy success with some new approaches, and feel better than ever about your parenting.