HEALTH - I've put this under "health" because frankly good discipline is a mental health issue, plus knowing how to properly discipline your children without hurting them is certainly a health matter too.
There is essentially 5 levels of how to discipline your children. Some of them are more controversial than others, and the bottom two are basically illegal.
1. Minimalist / Anti-Discipline
Some parents don't like to discipline their children. They basically let their children run wild and only attempt to discipline them when they do something really bad. The problem with these parents is they've adopted a pacifist approach to discipline, so their methodology is things like "no dessert", "go stand in the corner", "no TV", "no computer", "no phone or cellphone", etc. Another problem these parents face however is children who cry, whine and act up until they get what they want. Such parents have a strong tendency to flip flop and renege on their punishment... sometimes even REWARDING bad behaviour by later offering to buy the kid a new toy just to get them to stop crying.
These parents are no nonsense when it comes to discipline. They punish their kids, ground them, take things/privileges away and they refuse to back down on the issue. Their results may vary depending on the parent and the methodology, but at least they're not being wishy-washing and then rewarding the kid for bad behaviour.
3. Pro-Spanking & Ear Tugging
Spanking or ear tugging your child is perfectly legal. The exact wording of local laws may vary (and this may not be allowed in certain European countries), but in North America all parents have the right to spank or tug the ears of their children when they misbehave. Brazil and several South American countries have also outlawed spanking. Spanking and ear-tugging causes no damage, only light bruising which fades very quickly. The biggest aspect of this form of punishment is that its more about humiliation and embarrassment. The child will be embarrassed by the spanking and will think twice before doing activities that might induce another embarrassment.
4. Legal Grey Zone
This could be anything really. "Cruel and unusual punishment" could for example be forcing the kid to apologize to all the neighbours they had wronged and atoning for their misdeeds. But it could also be forms of physical punishment / work which we normally don't think of... ie. Having to chop wood for the woodstove for 3 hours before being allowed to eat; 200+ pushups; etc... some of these get into areas which most people would consider to be abuse and parental neglect. Twisting a child's arm for example on purpose would be crossing the line.
5. Out Right Illegal
Beating up the child, starving them, forced isolation, serious physical harm and then covering up the injuries with stories of falling down the stairs, etc. It doesn't take a lawyer to figure out these are going overboard.
Conclusions: Now evidently options #2 and #3 are the best ones and parents might even use the "cruel and unusual punishment" part of #4 if the situation warrants an unusual punishment. ie. You probably won't spank your teenager, but you might confiscate their cellphone and cut off their internet for the whole summer when they're caught gambling online... combined with forcing them to help out at a homeless shelter until they realize the road gambling can sometimes lead to.
The end goal is not to enact revenge on your child, but to encourage them through positive and negative reinforcement that certain types of behaviour will not be tolerated especially as they get older. As parents we have a responsibility to discipline our children so they don't grow up and turn into psychos because of parental neglect. Children can get into all sorts of trouble if allowed to run amok, raising children who eventually as adults run amok is a sure sign that the parents failed in their duty to properly discipline their kids.
DISCLAIMER TO YUPPIES: You may think you're doing your child a favour by not disciplining them or "sparing the rod and spoiling the child", but in reality you are doing them and the rest of society a disservice by raising someone who will ultimately be spoiled rotten.
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