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Punishing your child for bad behavior is part of parental duty. How do I know when I am crossing the line of abuse?

Houston, TX |
Filed under: Child abuse

I hear a lot of parents being accused of child abuse. But sometimes I believe as a parent it is necessary to punish your kids to teach them a lesson. But who sets boundaries of how far you can punish your kids or not? Who determines when is the punishment is enough?


Attorney Answers 1


Common sense is required and you should be fine:
Never deprive your child of food or water.
Don't use the elements (ie heat, cold, etc) as punishment.
Using corporal punishment is generally going to be frowned upon in most circles, but if you go that route, you should never ever leave a mark and it should be done when your temper is under control. Usually one swat on the bottom is all that would be necessary and the age of your child should be considered.

I think the most effective punishments are when you take something your child enjoys away from them for a period of time, like a toy or privilege, or when they get older, driving abilities, etc. For younger children, quite time outs for age appropriate periods of time are useful.

Long story short, there are no laws. CPS has been known to both overreact and underreact. The best policy is to just use your common sense as a parent. CPS won't likely get involved unless your children are showing up to school with bruises and or look malnourished or dehydrated. If you are in a contested custody suit, I always suggest using the mildest punishment possible just so opposing party has no grounds for accusations of abuse.

This is for educational purposes only. This answer is given based on the facts provided above. Contact a local attorney to further discuss these issues. No attorney client relationship is established. These questions and answers are fully searchable and viewable on the internet.

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Harry Edward Hudson Jr

Harry Edward Hudson Jr


Excellent advice. Especially the comment about age. There is frequently an age where the child is to young to understnd the meaning of being deprived of a toy or activity. There is also a point where physcal punishment is meaningless to a child. He or she has figured out or decided the fun of the prohibited act is more enjoyable than the pain of the punishment.

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