To spank or not to spank? That's a question that pops up in many a parent's mind more often than most would care to admit. But the research is pretty clear that spanking causes more harm then good. New data released yesterday adds to this pile of research, finding that kids who are spanked are more likely to develop mental problems later in life.

Do yourself, and your kids a favor, and skip the spanking. Here are five better ways to handle any situation your kids may throw at you.

1. Cool down. No matter the infraction, don't react in the heat of the moment. Spanking your child when you're angry teeters on the fine line between spanking as a form of discipline and spanking as child abuse. There's nothing wrong with sending your child to her room and telling her you will discuss her punishment when you have calmed down.

2. Be firm. Bend down on your child's level, make eye contact, and tell him firmly but kindly what you want him to do or why he is in trouble. Kids often misbehave when they think you're not paying attention. Remind him that you are watching.

3. Be consistent. If your child hits his sister and you punish him with a spanking, what does that teach him? That it's OK to hit when you do it but not when he does it? Instead of spanking, choose a punishment that fits the misbehavior. For example, if a child hits his sister, his punishment might be to do her chores for the rest of the day.

4. Turn it into a "teaching" moment. It's easy to forget that our kids are still new at this thing we call life and it's our job to help them make the right choices. Instead of meeting every misdeed with a punishment, try using the opportunity to teach your child the right choice they should have made.

5. Focus on the positives. So, you've asked your daughter to brush her teeth five times and she still hasn't done it. Don't yell or spank. Rather, tell her, "Go brush your teeth and when you're finished we can pick out a book to read together."

5 alternatives to spanking
How to raise happy, healthy, and well-disciplined kids without spanking.