SAN DIEGO — To spank or not to spank, it's one of the most common parenting questions, especially for young parents. The topic charges emotions and sparks controversy, so what do we do? News 8's Alicia Summer asked an expert.

Chances are you have been spanked at some point in your life. News 8 staff remembered their physical punishments many different ways:

"My mom would just kind of swat you with her hands."

"It could be a shoe, a tennis racket." 

"I got hand, I got the belt."

If you ask parents today, spanking is not as common.

"It's a change. Society has changed," said Lorri Bauer, a behavior specialist at Rady Children's Hospital. 

She says it's all about knowing the appropriate consequences for the misbehavior.

"I wouldn't want parents to think open handed spanking is being abusive to their child," Bauer said.

She says it more important that children are taught how to deal with people, become better problem solvers and take responsibility for their actions - not hide what they do out of fear.

She says asking the three R's can help:

Is the consequence RELATED to the misbehavior?

Is the punishment RESPECTFUL to your child? 

Is the punishment REASONABLE?

As Bauer explained, there is no easy answer in regards to spanking but you can get help figuring out what's best for you and your family through First 5 San Diego, Rady Children's Hospital offers free parenting glasses.