Infrequent, mild physical punishment by parents may appear to be effective in stopping misbehavior in some young children. Although there continues to be some debate among professionals about the merits of its use, I am not familiar with any research showing that infrequent, mild physical punishment with children who feel deeply loved and supported by the parent has clear long-term negative consequences for children.
Even mild physical punishment would be inappropriate, however, for foster or adopted children who have been abused in the past. These children would be better served by a completely nonviolent response. Any form of physical punishment could undermine their sense of safety in a relationship with a parent.