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No-spanking is not for state to decide

Original post made by Diana Diamond on Jan 19, 2007

The biggest problem that I have with State Assemblywoman Sally Lieber's (D-Mountain View) proposal to ban parents from spanking a child under the age of 3 is that it is more government intrusion into the privacy inside our homes.

Lieber's controversial proposal would forbid, she said, "any striking of a child, any corporal punishment, smacking, hitting, punching, any of that," and subject the parent to a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine up to $1,000,

Now I am against hurting a child in any way, and deplore any parent who would beat a child. But a little swat on the behind is different, and at times an appropriate way to tell a child that what he is doing is wrong.

I can well remember when my 13-month-old son was crawling around and insisted on pulling on the cord while I was ironing. I pulled him away, put him in his playpen, where he started to scream. I got him out, and back to the cord he went – three times. Did I want a hot iron falling on his head? Absolutely not. One swat convinced my son that maybe pulling on an iron cord was not a good idea. Obviously he was too young to reason with.

Having had four sons, I can think of many times when a little spank was the only way to let a child know that he was acting inappropriately. And I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

Experts in child psychology have disagreed for years whether spanking is an appropriate and effective way for a parent to discipline a child. Some say it is fine, as long as it is used sparingly and doesn't escalate into child abuse. Others say it is better to reason with a child.

Sometimes it is hard to reason with a 2-year-old.

Lieber is asking the government to act as Big Brother and make it a misdemeanor if a parent swats a child. I think that is wrong, because it clearly interferes with what is a parent's responsibility, not the government's. Next thing she will be insisting is that parents make sure their children are not obese, and fine us if they are, or demand that we read to our children each night.

There are many parents who choose to never swat their children, and I think that is great. There are others who think an occasional swat is appropriate and I think that is fine. Spanking is an issue for parents to decide – not the state government.



Comments (34)

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2007 at 9:28 am

The blood of the first toddler who runs into the street and gets run over, or electrocutes himself by playing with a socket, or is opportunistically abducted because he "runs away" from the parent's sight, is on Lieber's hands if she gets this through.

A swat on the diapered bottom or on the offending hand gets attention and links it to the behavior..which diminishes the behavior, and saves lives.

This woman can't differentiate between responsible parenting and abuse. Classic black and white poor thinking.

Throw out the baby with the bathwater


Posted by Parent of 4, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2007 at 9:53 am

This really is opening up a can of worms.

There is so much child abuse going on that I don't think that a law is going to make a difference to abusive parents which may be the idea behind the bill. Good parents who occasionally feel the need to spank a child, without temper, in the child's best interest, are not going to change their behavior. Parents who continually spank a child, because of temper or alcoholism, are going to do it in their homes anyway and if it is done for something that happened hours ago while the child was away from home, then there is a double problem. Firstly the child will have forgotten the behavior being punished for so it is useless, and secondly the pent up anger of the parents who want to give their child what for, will cause what could have been a quick swat into a serious beating.

In my experience, spanking used in the correct manner is an appropriate discipline (teaching method not punishment). It should be rare. It is better for the parent to do the ironing in the playpen (or as I did it behind the kiddy gate into the kitchen while the child played in the family room) is a better method.

I used spanking for two things, one if there was blatant disobedience to me and secondly if they did something on purpose to cause pain or serious distress to another child. This was the only time spanking seems appropriate. It was done in private with an explanation of why it was happening and with me calm and business like. I always followed with a hug and told them I loved them and I wanted their behavior to improve, not that they were a bad kid.

Getting laws to make parents behave is only going to intrude into a family's personal life, making things difficult for the good parents and worse for the children of those whose parenting skills are not so good. This could turn into a slippery slope as Diana says and who knows where it could end.


Posted by Gary, a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2007 at 1:23 pm

It seems to me that Sally Lieber's proposal is arrogant in the extreme. When you consider that almost every child in the entire history of mankind until very recently was subject to corporal punishment she, and those who agree with her, must think themselves smarter than virtually every parent, in essentially every culture, in recorded history.

No parent with a modest level of sanity enjoys punnishing their children. Where do you think old sayings like "spare the rod and spoil the child" and "you'll thank me for this later" come from? These are designed to help the parent get past the emotional pain they feel when they cause physical pain to their kids. Designed by a community that knew from long millenium's of experience that an occasional swat on the bottom was necessary to raise a good kid.


Posted by shane campbell, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 19, 2007 at 7:31 pm

this spanking ban is whats wrong with america people are affraid to disapline thier children, there fore it teaches children no respect and they get unruly and that is where all the problems of society come from, no disapline, no respect. i myself have been spanked when i was a child and i turned out alright. i deserved every spanking i got and i dont hate anybody for it. i am a better person for it.


Posted by A concerned grandparent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 19, 2007 at 8:07 pm

There are many reasons to oppose any such law: What constitutes spanking ? Bruse's?, A pink spot? Witnesses needed? Revenge by someone who claimed you spanked? A 3 year old calling 911 when they get mad at you? (never teach a child to call 911). Hire 3 more police in every city to enforce this. Set up cameras in homes/streets to watch for spanking? Shoppers who are annoyed by children call 911 to get the child out of the store and claim there was spanking.. Do we need more big goverment. How about requiring couples to attend classes on child rearing, etc before allowing them to get married. This would be more helpful.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2007 at 7:50 am

Mom swats child. Mom arrested.
Mom loses job.
Child loses Mom.
Definition of a liberal - someone so dumb they cannot differentiate between cutting off a child's allowance and cutting off his hand.


Posted by Einstein, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2007 at 9:13 am

I agree with Walter_E_Wallis: "spare the rod, spoil the child" built our whole civilization! Adults need to prove to those carpet munchers and rug rats who wears the pants (or the skirt), as it were.

Liberalism has run amok. The result? The Iraq War fiasco, gigantic federal deficits, rampant graft and corruption in federal contracting, the FEMA-Katrina debacle, dumb and incompetent high federal political appointees, etc. And that's just under Bush-Cheney!


Posted by Thanku4playing, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2007 at 12:38 pm

I have witnessed children growing up without ever being touched. They are selfish, self centered and have no understanding of consequenes. They become manipulative at an early age. When they enter the real world they can not adapt to the real world being very different. Ultimately they because or the best victoms or the best criminals.

There are of course betters ways of dealing with children then corporal punishment. They of course only work when corporal punishment is still a feared possibility. And of the parents that do not have top parenting skills, who will help them raise children in some idealistic way?

The government is ready to get involved in interferring in raising of a child, but do little to solve the problems that result of there interference.

For abusive parents, they will attempt to comply with this law until a breaking point, which will result in grave consequenses, releasing all ther frustation at once..


Posted by Bob OKeefe, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Sally Lieber should be recalled for proposing such a law.


Posted by Nolen Long, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2007 at 1:31 pm

I'm from another state, just reading the news. I won't pretend to know about the particulars of California law but being the progressive state the rest of the country knows, it seems as though you have the same problems everybody else does. Instead of enforcing the laws we already have, they want to make new ones to intrude into your life even further. Funny thing happens when you start checking them out though, they scream and cry about people prying into their personal lives. I know Cali has child abuse laws, if she wants to do something positive, let her find a way to investigate and enforce those. It seems its just another politician trying to get media attention from this veiw, hold her accountable for wasting your time and tax dollars.


Posted by C Harris, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2007 at 1:32 pm

It is precisely this kind of proposed legislation that scares the hell out of middle America. Out here, beyond the bounds of the Bay Area, we believe that Senators Barbara and Diane and their cohorts would like to impose similar ideas about the government's role in our lives.
Considering that local, state and federal officials (D and R) have demonstrated for generations that they can't control themselves, who would want them to pass legislation to control us?


Posted by Richard Anson MSW, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2007 at 10:32 pm

In the bio on her website, Sally Lieber seems to imply that she and her husband have no children but "take seriously their role as pet guardians for a politically astute black-and-white cat."

How cute. With all of the problems facing this state, this young person presumes to understand what is best for parents. If her arrogance was not so dangerous she might be amusing, however, she appears as a poster child for feelings-based legislation...doomed to accomplish nothing because it is not based upon fact.

Grow up, wise up, shut up.


Posted by Adam Hill, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2007 at 12:30 am

I have no strong opinion about the legislation under question; those enforcing the child abuse and neglect reporting laws are already incredibly underfunded, but I am saddened by the words chosen by those who have responded to this article.

I have a six year old who I have never hit. He is a model of consideration and respect for others and spends his time with others (both children and adults) who behave in the same way. There have been many times when he was out of control from infancy onward. Several strategies have worked, with the most intense involving holding. I would sit him in my lap with his back to me and hold his body close, but only tight enough that he could not thrash about, while at the same time speaking in a calm and loving manner and letting him have time to regain control. Sometimes it would take less than a minute; sometimes it would take more like 10 mins. This is a classic use of "time out" from stimuli that de-escalates the situation, rather than "time out" as punishment that is used. I can only imagine the unnecessarily defensive attitudes hitting him would have caused -- either defiance or submission.

I can't imagine that the resulting dynamics wouldn't have made him either more distrustful of himself or of me. If you are reading this and want resources, I like Benjamin Spock's "Your Baby and Child" for starters.


Posted by james, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2007 at 12:35 am

Hilarious! Idiotic... from someone who doesn't have kids? MY WORD... MORONIC... This kind of thinking.. the depravity of it all.. you know... the liberal minded psycosis... like there is alot of 3 year olds pissed about their parents spanking them.. it's so sick.. tackle some real problems... this should show people how idiotic moronic the mind can get once it tunes into liberal soft idiotic passive thinking..


Posted by Happy Spankee, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2007 at 1:35 am

I was spanked as a child, and so were my brother and sister. I can't say I liked it, but it taught me right from wrong when no amount of lecturing would do. When it came time to raise my own daughter, I used mild spanking and swats on her wrist whenever appropriate. She got the message, and guess what: she grew up to become a smiling young woman and most accomplished person who was the valedictorian of her school, a national merit scholar, and a phi-beta-kappa Stanford grad, among many other distinctions. We have talked of her spanking on occasions. She remembers it, but bears no grudge. It is not the physical pain that matters, which in any case is rather mild, but the stern message that accompanies it: there are lines that must not be crossed. Sometimes, there is no other way to deliver it.


Posted by Paul G, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2007 at 5:56 am

Raising violence among children has nothing to do with spanking, I grew up in a era where a snap on the butt helped teach that there is a price to pay for bad behavior. The real reason for the violence is single parent homes and the lack of whole family contact. Boys need a male parent to teach responsiblity and mother to teach love and compassion, this comes from a warm family environment. Divorce is the poison of the our youth.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2007 at 8:49 am

Paul G

How right you are. It is no co-incidence that two people are needed to create a child and that two parents are needed to raise a child. Each child, boy or girl, needs two parents as role models and mentors. Yes, children can get this from elsewhere, but the best way is from their own parents. Even in many two parent homes, the children never seem to see the two parents at the same time, or do anything together as a family. As a society we must get back to basics and put family values first. After that, all sorts of things will fall into place that appear to be in a mess at present.


Posted by Diana Diamond, Palo Alto Online blogger
on Jan 22, 2007 at 9:58 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

I dcn't think we can blame the violence in our society on single parents. It's a much more complex problem.

Some single parents do a fantastic job of raising their children, others do not. Single parenthood is the result of divorce and death, oftentimes not the "fault" of the single parent. It is unfair to blame a parent who is trying to raise a child alone -- a difficult task --- for a societal problem.

Violence can, in part, be blamed on the fact that we tend to be a more violent society than others. We now have shootings almost daily in East Palo Alto, and there is little outcry. We have become used to that in our society.

But I digress. The issue we are discussing here is whether it is okay to spank a child. I agree with those who have said that sometimes, particularly for toddlers, a swat on the rear is the only way they can learn that certain behavior is not permissible. An occasional slap is not child abuse.

Diana


Posted by Rich Hedberg, a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jan 25, 2007 at 11:05 am

Many thanks for Diane's forum and level headed journalism!
Mr. Adam Hill: Lets see the outcome of your pride and joy of pure idealism after 20 years where there is no spanking, just prison, just cold hard reality...
BTW, Spock recanted his work as valid years later...stop being 6 and grow up.....


Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 25, 2007 at 1:21 pm

93% of teen aged males incarcerated for murder come from single parent homes.

I forget the number for incarcerated teen females, ..but it was close to that.

I hope I can find the source. It was a couple years ago.

Yes, violence and single parenthood ( moms) are highly related. Many factors involved in this, of course, but we cannot deny the correlation.

This is off the spanking topic, but I coudn't resist the lure to respond.

As for you, Adam, who has been so fortunate as to raise a male child to the age of 6 without ever even having to slap a hand or a diapered bottom, congratulations. Count your blessings. It isn't because you were such a great parent doing such a better job than the rest of us horrible and uninformed parents who have never heard of, much less read, Spock and who became parents because we wanted to hit our kids, it is that you were lucky to have a child with a temperament that responded to the same techniques that probably every single one of us tried.

Ask anyone with more than one kid. I was shocked that the temperament of mine were so different, such that I didn't "swat" my first son throughout his toddler years, but often is was only a swat that made my youngest "listen". Even after all my experience and knowledge, years of trying everything else.

I lost my smugness and judgementalism after another, later, child.

Don't be smug and judgemental.

And, as with my first, wait until the first time when there is a critical battle of wills between you, and he absolutely must comply, for his health and safety ( though I hope that never happens).

Don't be too hard on yourself, when you do the last resort. It feels horrible, but your first job is the safety of your child.

And, wait until he is a teen, and believes that there is nothing you can do to stop him from behaving in any way he wishes, so you are forced into very drastic and harsh measures that you don't want to do, but must do to keep him safe until he is 18, (or just give up and lose him earlier).

A lot of Spock babies hit that wall


Posted by The Crew in PA Central, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2007 at 10:20 am

Although we cannot agree with Ms Lieber's idealisms in any capacity, the main topic here is that the GOVERNMENT at any level, should not have the ability to intrude on such personal matters at any time and any degree...To suggest otherwise is disgracefull...


Posted by Cody, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2007 at 3:26 pm

wow... what about smacking them in the face when the misbehave? would that be wrong? YES! So why is the butt any different! Don't hit your kids. Its that simple... Its sad that there has to be a law for people to become responsible parents.

There are many ways to discipline your children besides hitting them. read a book, take a class. I was never hit as a child and I turned out just fine... and I will not hit my children!

And to the first person that commented...

"The blood of the first toddler who runs into the street and gets run over, or electrocutes himself by playing with a socket, or is opportunistically abducted because he "runs away" from the parent's sight, is on Lieber's hands if she gets this through."

Grow up! Take some responsibility for your parenting and quit blaming everyone else! The only reason for your kids to not run into the street, or stick their finger in a power socket, or runs away, SHOULDN'T be because they are going to get spanked!!! Teach them. Don't hit them.


Posted by Deb from GA, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 26, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Thank God we live in Georgia!


Posted by Graceann, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 26, 2007 at 7:20 pm

I agree with Cody. Teach them, don't hit them.

While a bill banning spanking may be inappropriate, one does not need to be a parent to know that spanking is harmful to children and counterproductive as well. There have been countless studies on the subject. When our sons were young my husband and I supervised them carefully and pulled them safely away from the dangers of hot stoves and traffic without the need for a "swat" which, as Diamond asserted, "…is the best way to teach a small child not to go near something." Our sons are grown now, fine young men with families of their own.

I was educated at a time when corporal punishment was acceptable in schools. I experienced it myself. When I began my teaching career in the 1960s there were paddles in the teachers' desk drawers in the public school where I taught. I never used them, or any other form of physical punishment in over 30 years of teaching in public and private schools. A successful parent or teacher can attest to the fact that there are peaceful, non-violent ways to achieve cooperation from children.


Posted by Parent of 4, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2007 at 7:54 pm

I would like to repeat my comments from earlier in the thread because I think they are useful.

I do agree that spanking a child to keep him away from danger is not a good idea and probably won't work. Keeping the danger away from the child is much more appropriate. I used harnesses on my young children so they wouldn't run into the road, used all kinds of safety equipment in the house including gates and playpens, and often put the dangerous things in the playpen rather than the child.

However, I do advocate spanking young children for two things. Firstly for deliberate defiance of my rules and authority. A child who constantly says "no" to me or defiantly does what they have been just been told not to do, just to see my reaction, definitely deserves a spank that brings them to tears and then they will remember who is in charge and why. Secondly, a child who deliberately hurt another child, either physically or in any other way, to cause harm or upset, also deserves to be spanked in the same way. I have had biters who never learnt that biting was wrong at school (pre-school) until in a different situation they were badly bitten by another child. They soon learnt that biting was not on. I have had children who think it is fun to take toys or food from their classmates, to see what the teacher would do. Time outs didn't work. They took pride in their time out, not having to do the craft or whatever they were supposed to be doing. The delight they told me in getting out of the classwork and fun was amazing. Realising that each time I was told by a teacher that they were in time-out at school for biting or spoiling someone's artwork meant that they would be spanked at home, soon stopped them from this habit.

No, I don't think spanking a child is the way to bring up children. Spankings should be rare, but occur in a fair manner. I always took my child into a private surrounding, explained calmly what they had done was wrong and spanked. When the tears came, I hugged them and told them that it was the behavior I didn't like, not them. I told them I loved them and that it was now over, but if the behavior was repeated, then the spanking would also be repeated.

I don't like to think of spanking as a teaching tool for all purposes, just as a punishment for something that is most definitely not acceptable. If you use spanking too often, then what do you do when a child does do something more serious. A child who knows that you will spank for serious situations can still explore and learn in a healthy manner, without being scared that almost anything they do could occasion them to be spanked.

Leave spankings for serious infringements and use other methods to train a child to look out for themselves when it comes to safety.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2007 at 9:53 pm

I have respect for a parent of four kids - you speak from experience. Thanks.


Posted by Cody, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Well Parent of 4, I have to disagree with you there. I don't as a parent, you should ever intend to give a spank that "brings them to tears and then they will remember who is in charge and why."

And as for doing it in a private setting, what happens when the child misbehaves in public? How do you react to that? However you do, SHOULD also be the way you do it at home. Would you wait until you got home and the spanked your child? Because I guarantee by then, he/she wont associate why they are getting hit now, with what they did earlier in the day.

And I don't mean to insult anyone here, but to Anonymous, generally just because someone has had 4 children, doesn't necessarily make them perfect parents! I do not have my own children yet. But I have taught young children from age 3-17 for over 6 years. And my fiance is a preschool teacher for over 7 years! we have been in contact with hundreds of children. So I believe that we have ample experience to say that spanking is wrong.


Posted by Parent of 4, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Cody

Thanks for your post. I will try to answer your points.

Bringing a child to tears is different for each child. I have one who cried as soon as she knew she was about to be spanked so that was not a very severe spank. I have one who stubbornly refused to cry until they had been spanked (no more than 3 times), left alone and I returned a few minutes later. I have another who needed to be spanked just once and the tears came straight away with plenty of remorse. I also have one who learnt that the tears meant no spanking so turned on the tap as a tool against me. I then had to use a more subtle approach. The point is not the severity of the spanking (it was never severe) just the point that I was the one in charge because I am the parent. I am showing that I am in charge because I am. This is not debating the issue with them or trying to bargain with them. It is showing them that their defiance or hurt towards another child will not be tolerated. As I said, this was a rare occasion when it happened and they knew that they were in the wrong.

Secondly, yes my children did misbehave in public, but I was always able to find somewhere more private to take them. I have walked out of grocery stores leaving a cart of groceries to take them to the car or a restroom. I have left the playground at the park and taking them behind a tree or somewhere less visible and calmly spanked. I have stopped the car and parked. I have just wanted less visibilty and somewhere that their friends do not see them being spanked, not for my fears but to make it less humiliating for them. I never waited until I got home. This would be much too late and I certainly never used the threat of "wait til you get home".

My child always knew why they were being spanked, because I told them why what they did was wrong. I always made sure that afterwards they understood that there were always consequences to their choice of bad behavior. I always told them it was the behavior I didn't like not them and always gave them a hug and told them it was now over and I loved them always.

I don't consider that I ever hit my child as you put it because I think that sounds as if I was angry and out of control. A spanking should never be done in anger and on many occasions when my children have made me angry I have told them to go to their rooms until I had calmed down and could talk to them properly (that was when they were older though and they certainly would not have forgotten what it was for).

I don't think I am a perfect parent. I do make mistakes. My children have often seen me cry, get upset and be angry. However, I think that the guidelines I set for myself are worth passing on. They worked for me and although my children are now older and still have their problems, I feel I am still learning how to parent.


Posted by Parent of 4, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Cody

Thanks for your post. I will try to answer your points.

Bringing a child to tears is different for each child. I have one who cried as soon as she knew she was about to be spanked so that was not a very severe spank. I have one who stubbornly refused to cry until they had been spanked (no more than 3 times), left alone and I returned a few minutes later. I have another who needed to be spanked just once and the tears came straight away with plenty of remorse. I also have one who learnt that the tears meant no spanking so turned on the tap as a tool against me. I then had to use a more subtle approach. The point is not the severity of the spanking (it was never severe) just the point that I was the one in charge because I am the parent. I am showing that I am in charge because I am. This is not debating the issue with them or trying to bargain with them. It is showing them that their defiance or hurt towards another child will not be tolerated. As I said, this was a rare occasion when it happened and they knew that they were in the wrong.

Secondly, yes my children did misbehave in public, but I was always able to find somewhere more private to take them. I have walked out of grocery stores leaving a cart of groceries to take them to the car or a restroom. I have left the playground at the park and taking them behind a tree or somewhere less visible and calmly spanked. I have stopped the car and parked. I have just wanted less visibilty and somewhere that their friends do not see them being spanked, not for my fears but to make it less humiliating for them. I never waited until I got home. This would be much too late and I certainly never used the threat of "wait til you get home".

My child always knew why they were being spanked, because I told them why what they did was wrong. I always made sure that afterwards they understood that there were always consequences to their choice of bad behavior. I always told them it was the behavior I didn't like not them and always gave them a hug and told them it was now over and I loved them always.

I don't consider that I ever hit my child as you put it because I think that sounds as if I was angry and out of control. A spanking should never be done in anger and on many occasions when my children have made me angry I have told them to go to their rooms until I had calmed down and could talk to them properly (that was when they were older though and they certainly would not have forgotten what it was for).

I don't think I am a perfect parent. I do make mistakes. My children have often seen me cry, get upset and be angry. However, I think that the guidelines I set for myself are worth passing on. They worked for me and although my children are now older and still have their problems, I feel I am still learning how to parent.


Posted by Parent of 4, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2007 at 9:33 am

I wrote the above last night when I was tired and I suppose I just tried to defend my self. On re-reading this morning I realise it sounds pretty terrible. I just want to say that most of what I was referring to above was not necessarily spanking, just dealing with a misbehaving child in public. When a child misbehaved at the park or a grocery store, or while I was driving, it was not usually an offence that deserved a spanking. However, it did deserve some action on my part and whether it was just a good talking to, or taking them out of a turbulent situation to cool off, I did take them to restrooms, the car or behind bushes for privacy. I do believe that situations should be dealt with quickly, calmly and appropriately. A temper tantrum in a grocery store can't be ignored, but the appropriate reaction is not a spanking but taking them out of the situation and waiting quietly until the child is ready to behave correctly, or putting off the errand are all ways of dealing with a situation. My kids picking fights with others at the park must be dealt with and seen to be dealt with and taking them home is not necessarily the right punishment. Each time a child misbehaves is different. Sometimes the child's misbehavior is not their own fault. I realised that taking a child from preschool straight to run errands was not a good idea for the child although it suited my schedule. Children need to be respected as much as we need them to respect us.

However, children, particularly preschoolers, must realise that a parent is the person in charge. This is a different role from a teacher who is only in charge for a certain period of time. A child must realise that a parent is always responsible for the child all the time, even when they are separated, and this is what makes for a family. Since a parent is responsible for providing shelter, food, protection, etc. for the child that makes them the responsible person for the child. If the child does not understand the word "responsible", then "in charge" is a way to describe it in a way they do understand. This is not a situation where we are trying to be bigger and therefore bully our children, but rather being responsible by showing that our responsibilities are to teach them how to become responsible adults and their responsibilities are to learn this so that they can ultimately teach this to their children. Even very young children can understand this concept.

And finally, I would like to add that no matter how much teacher training and experience somebody has, how many child development classes you have attended and how experienced you are with other people's children, it is not, can not and should not be the same as when eventually you have your own children. The old cliche of the child not having read the same manual as you, is true. I have worked in a child care facility before I had kids and I have volunteered in sunday school classrooms and youth clubs for teenagers. This is all very good experience, but is in no way comparable to having your own children. Being a parent is a 24/7 responsibility. You never have a day off and you never hand over the responsibility to anyone else. Even when you and your child are not together, you still worry about them and want to know how they are doing. You don't forget about a problem, hoping it will go away or that someone else will handle it.
That child is yours, from the moment they are handed to you in the delivery room, or wherever, until you die. Even when they turn 18, they are still your children and you don't turn your back on them. Once you are a parent, you are always a parent until you reach the grave. If you don't believe me, ask your own parents or grandparents.

Parenting is definitely an art and an art that can be learnt or improved. There is more than one way to go about it, but whatever method you try, be open to other ideas and let us all do our best.


Posted by Cody, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2007 at 10:47 pm

thank you for your replys. I see that you are putting a lot of thought into this which makes for a great debate!:) I do agree, your first reply sounded pretty terrible. Especially to someone who doesnt believe spanking is ok. I agree with a lot of things you said in your second reply. Like being a parent is a 24/7 gig. And even after they turn 18, they are still your children. Watching my parents and the parents of the children who I have been in contact with, I can see how different parenting stylse can be. For example, my mother and father (who are divorced) are both good parents, but have different views on how to raise a child. My mother seems to think I am 7 years old, and I feel it will always be that way!:) My father decided to charge me rent when i was still living with him, and becuase I could not pay, I got kicked out! But I still love them both. Back to the issue, I strongly feel there is always a way to handle a misbehaving child without hitting. And youre right, its not "bulling our children." To me, it just seems like the easiest, and the quickest thing to do. It doesn't take the time to talk to your children, or give them a punishment and stick with it. Its getting a spank and problem gone... all better. It doesnt work like that. I believe that if you hit a child, it teaches them that it is OK to hit and seem to hit more in school and at home. I have seen parents who spank, then their children come the class and hit more and more. I have also heard what you said before... "it is not the same as when eventually you have your own children of your own" Oh boy... when I read that to my preschool teacher fiance, it got her blood boiling! She has taught hundreds of kids. Learning along the way. She learned through trial and error just like you, but with dozens and dozens of kids. Learning what works, and what doesnt along the way. She has have more experience than any parent should have. All parents have is the experence of thier own children, with their own parenting style. She gets to witness all the parenting styles and sees how they act in school and with others. And believe me, there is a HUGE difference. Sure its not the same as having your own children, but its not worse, and we think better. She has worked with babies from 3 months to kids 4 years old. And some older! She knows what to expect at every age and she knows what works and what doesnt. They dont allow perschool teachers to hit/spank the kids, they would be fired for that. So why is it a good idea for you?


Posted by Parent of 4, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2007 at 9:24 am

Cody, thank you for your comments.

I agree with a lot of what you say. However, I would like to say that spanking a child at the spur of the moment for some presumed misdemeanor is not what I am talking about. What I am saying is that a young child who is too young to understand much, knows what "no" means. If a parent has firm rules for behavior and uses the word "no" to a child who then forgets, or hasn't understood, then it should not be a time for a spanking. However, a child who knows they are doing wrong and blatantly goes ahead and does it anyway just to get a reaction from a parent (or a teacher) shouldn't be allowed to get away with that behavior. A talking too may do it for the first time, a time out may actually give the child power (e.g. the parent can't get on with doing chores or whatever else the child wants the parent's attention for). Taking the child into a private setting, explaining the infringement and a short calm spank, taking time for the child to get over it with tears and an apology, a hug and an assurance that they are loved, is a considerate way of coping with this.

From my experience, a great deal of children's misbehavior is due to one of several things. They are seeking attention at a time when it is not convenient - so make sure that they get plenty of attention at a more appropriate time. They are over-tired, or over-stimulated, or over fed on junk food, or hungry or bored from not being stimulated - so give them routine, healthy food and cut down on between meal snacks and regular mealtimes. If a child feels loved and valued, they can understand that if they choose to misbehave then the consequences are of their own choosing also. If a child does not feel loved or valued, if they feel that their parent would rather be somewhere else or doing something else rather than spending time with them, then the likelihood of them misbehaving is stronger.

I was brought up by parents who had great parenting skills when I was young, but due to circumstances in their own lives, changed dramatically when I was 12 or 13. At this stage I got very confused and hurt because I just didn't understand what I was supposed to be doing. The things I thought I was doing right seemed to them to be wrong and the things that they expected of me just didn't seem right in my eyes. As a consequence, I know that confusing a child is the one of the worst things you can do for them. Even very young children can tell when a parent is having a bad day and will play on that to get attention. Attention is not a bad thing, we need to give it to our children. Sometimes they are looking for attention because they are not getting enough, or the right type, and sometimes they are looking for attention because they are spoilt and used to getting their own way. The hard thing is to work out which it is and why, then treating the cause of the problem rather than punishing for the misbehavior rather than solving the underlying cause.

Finally, I know that you have a great deal of experience with children. I can also see that you have watched many parents deal with their children. I really do think that you will be great parents in due course. However, I think you will see your own children differently when you have them and realise that all your experience now is not the same as having your own.


Posted by Kathy, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 6, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Diana, no posts for over two weeks?


Posted by Ann, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2007 at 7:24 pm

What a valuable dialogue! This and other parenting challenges are wonderfully addressed in Non-Violent Communications (NVC) for Parents. NVC resources on the Internet and community offes terrific support and tools that work and are effective in peacefully communicating and resolving issues (with children at all ages). Definitely worth checking out! Web Link


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