Punishment or Abuse

Is your partner abusing your child and calling it punishment? Learn to recognize the difference between punishment and abuse. Choose your child over your partner.

Punishment can be considered abusive when it causes injury, becomes excessive, and creates what Ohio law calls “substantial risk of serious physical harm” to the child.

Punishment is probably excessive if:

  • The child has a physical injury, including bruising
  • Other examples: broken skin, swelling, or a situation that requires medical attention
  • You mean to instill fear rather than to educate
  • You lose control
  • The action is inappropriate for the child’s age
  • The action results from unreasonable demands or expectations for the child


Wondering if you’ve gone too far? Ask yourself this about the punishment:

  • Do I feel good about this action?
  • Is there an important lesson to teach?
  • Does my child know that I love him or her?
  • Is there mutual respect, or is there fear?
  • Am I behaving in a way that I would want my child to behave?

Many experts say an authoritative parenting style is best. That’s when your children know you are in charge and they respect, but do not fear, you. Talk with your children about expectations, and decide together firm and appropriate consequences for misbehavior.