Dear Dr. G.,

I saw you on TV talking about why you are against spanking. I don't agree with you. Some of the things the kids say these days to their parents never would have flown when I was a kid. My father would have slapped me across my face if I swore like the kids these days. And, you know what, I do the same to my kid who is 12. If she thinks she can say swear words to me then she's got another thing coming. Why are you so against a slap or a good spanking? Maybe we wouldn't have such a violent and crazy world if our kids had a little fear in their hearts.

I would like to hear what you have to say. I am sure that there are many others out there like me who believe in a good spanking at the right time.

A Mother

Dear Mother,

Yes, you are completely right. I am against hitting, spanking and any other form of physical aggression particularly when it involves the parent-child relationship.

You said that you your father would have hit you if you swore. I don't know if he actually ever hit you or not but many adults tell me that they were hit as kids and are fine as adults. My response to that is yes they may be fine but maybe they would even be better if they were never hit. At least one study shows that adults who were hit as children suffer from more symptoms of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem in adulthood.

My concern is that hitting instills only fear not respect. Our goal as parents should be to have our kids respect us not fear us.How can fear possibly improve the quality of a relationship? Of course, you may be correct. If a child is hit enough then a behavior may stop but at a cost-perhaps the price of a good relationship with parents.

I believe that children and teens should be disciplined. Children and teens of all ages thrive on structure and limits. They need boundaries. They need parents to be involved and to monitor their behavior.I am not in favor of permissive parenting which lacks rules.

In my opinion and experience there are a number of ways to discipline your children that do not involve hitting. Here are some ideas:

1. Time outs. the kids are asked to leave the situation and spend time alone where they can think about their behavior.

2. Taking away privileges. If your kids misbehave they can lose computer time, social time or even activity time. Please make sure though that the punishment fits the crime and kids aren't grounded for an indefinite amount of time.

3. Earning privileges. Here kids earn the things they like with the hope that negative behaviors will decrease in frequency.

4.Repair Work. This is personally my favorite. If your child has done something wrong then they have to repair the situation. If they have broken something,for example, then they either have to fix it or pay to have it fixed. If they were mean to a peer or a sibling then they should be expected to do something nice for that person. This list can go on and on and can be quite creative

We do indeed have a violent society. I am concerned, though, that if parents model physically aggressive behavior then kids will learn by imitation and believe that physical aggression is okay.  This may lead to further acceptance of aggression and violence in our culture.I hope that I explained myself to you thoroughly and please get back to me with questions. I always welcome all sorts of viewpoints.

Good Luck,

Dr. G.

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