Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy New Year (Again)

Tonight is Chinese New Year. I love New Year's. Besides the obvious celebration, it's a chance to start again. And in the last several months we've been able to celebrate Jewish New Year, traditional New Year, and now Chinese New Year. (If there are others, write in.) I love New Year's because of this new beginning. We can choose to do it differently this time - whatever "it" is. We can start anew - be kind to ourselves and our kids - love ourselves, family, and friends in a healthier way. We can again aim to hit our mark and be the best person we want to be. We can put our mistakes in the past and forgive ourselves, our kids, our loved ones, even the stranger that cut us off on the road. We can let go of anger and resentment so it doesn't build up and cause us more stress. We can move on.

So, if we give ourselves permission for a fresh start on New Year's, why not give ourselves permission for a fresh start each day? And if we decide it's okay to start anew each day, why not every hour or minute? Imagine the kind of person you'd like to be? Imagine the kind of relationship you'd like to have with your family? What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it sound like? How would this simple re-adjustment in attitude affect your feelings about yourself and your behavior with your family? How would it affect your relationship with your kids? Hopefully, happier, healthier, and more peaceful.

Please let me know how it goes...and Happy New Year ... again.

Dr. Charlotte

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Family Harmony for Valentine's Day

Dear Community,

Is love is in the air for your family? With Valentine's Day this week, it's a great opportunity to re-evaluate how your family is showing they care about each other. Lately, there's been a lot of focus with the famlies I work with to develop more positive, loving, and harmonious households. How we communicate with each other is key.

Heart Circle Talks are an easy way to build positive communication skills. Set aside some weekly family time to discuss concerns and share good feelings. You might pick a topic or just talk about "what's up" for each family member. Find a treasured small object (or, visit Imagery for Kids for a Heart Love: Imagery For Kids Heart Lovey so that the person who is sharing holds the object. Then follow these 8 simple rules.

1. Person holding the object talks.
2. Pass the object gently to one side when done sharing.
3. Don't need to share - have the right to skip your turn.
4. Talk about what you feel. Speak from your heart.
5. No put downs.
6. Maintain confidentiality (don't share what is said without permission).
7. Equal time for all (use a timer if you need to).
8. Stay in the circle (don't run off) till Heart Talk is finished.

Adjust the timing, situation, and topic based on your family's needs.
And let me know how Heart Talks work for your family.

Dr. Charlotte

Saturday, February 3, 2007

More Comments on Spanking Sparks Debate

Thank you Community for all your thoughts. Here are some more:

1. From Karen Sorensen

I enjoyed reading the article you had on spanking. I totally agree with your view by the way. We would be in line with European countries who have banned spanking. It will be interesting to see what happens. Since we know that children copy what they see and what they experience (0-7 years of age is considered the imitation phase), if we want our children to learn to handle their anger in appropriate ways, that is what we need to model. In addition, discipline is not about punishment or expressing our anger, which backfires, and tends to create anger in children and a desire to hurt back. Discipline is about teaching children specific skills about positively handling their anger (calming down) and how to solve problems with others in ways that are safe, fair, and take into account others' feelings as well as setting firm limits in non-punitive ways for inappropriate actions. Modeling and teaching the kind of positive behavior and values we want our children to have is what creates peaceful, productive citizens.

2. From Barbara Daniels

I think you cannot legislate behavior and I am tired making more laws to do just that. I feel parenting classes could be required for all who have children from their prenatal onward through till the child hits about ten. Educating the legislating is where you will find people more receptive still giving them the control they deserve. I would resent and do resent anyone trying to mind my business and I think it is time to STOP legislating everything to death.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A College Student's View - Spanking Sparks Debate

I read the article and I find the idea rather
intriguing. I have to say that everytime I was hit as
a child I sure as hell hated it and it scared me but I
do believe I deserved it. The only times I was ever
slapped/spanked were times that I was really acting
out and I was beyond verbal confrontation. I guess you
could say I was out of control. In this context I do
beleive that a spanking can be useful. I may not have
had the cognitive skills at the time to really
comprehend why I deserved to be spanked but it kept me
from acting out in that manner, which I think is a
good thing. It's unfortunate to think of children as
dogs (who have to be spanked in order to teach right
from wrong) but in this case, as long as there is no
legitimate physical abuse (which is a little
ambiguous) I do not really see it as a problem.

I agree with Professor Goldstein, in that it is a very
frightening thing for the government to regulate such
parental behavior. ... I also think the
legislation sounds more appealing if you apply it to
infants. Obviously no infant should ever be spanked in
any way.

The real reason I oppose the legislation is that I
don't see the damage that is occuring when children
are occasionaly spanked on the rear end. Unless of
course it escalates to abuse. To me, it is a little
more frightening to think that the government
(especially as it currently stands) would regulate how
we treat our children to that extent.

The idea that spanking children at a young age gives
them the idea that they can use physical power against
others is very interesting. It may be true that when I
was spanked I thought it is how I could possibly get
my way in the future. But that is extremely hard to
prove. It may be good to get spanked every once in a
while because you are confronted with that kind of
punishment and it may help you deal with others
outside the household. As a male, I deal with this a
lot. Ever since a young age physical dominance in
social circumstances presented itself. It still does
today. Fights still break out and at times you have to
hold your own. You could argue (and im not sure if I
agree with this) that being spanked allows you to deal
with these issues in a more mature and less-frightened
manner because we all know that bullies can smell
fear. Just a thought.


Your Comments on Media Article: Spanking Sparks Debate - and Legislation

Dear Community,

Below are some of the comments I received about the media article Spanking Sparks Debate - and Legislation. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. To see the article copy and paste the url:

In the future, because the Imagery For Kids Blog is here, you will be able to post directly - just click on Comment in the little green banner box below the actual post.

Warm regards,
Dr. Charlotte

1. From Marta Uffelmann-Ledezma MA

I believe spanking comes as result of frustration and lack of strategies to deal with a child that is pushing limits and it is not effective or positive, on the contrary it teaches a child that is acceptable to act aggressively when you are mad instead of teaching ways to manage the frustration and anger.
Parenting is a difficult job and it is true that we learn with our children; however in the age of information that we live in it is not excuse to act inappropriately claiming lack of information. For that reason, I am supporting you initiative and please accept my congratulations for being an active advocate of children safety.

2. From Jim Blumenthal DC

In my practice, I work with many kids labeled ADD/ADHD, Asperger's, autistic, LD, BD, etc. Frequently, the biggest challenge the (non-autistic) kids have is that their parents have abdicated the role of parenting. While I am not advocating abusive or cruel behavior on the parents' part, many of these kids exhibit a deep lack of concern over consequences because there have never, rarely, or infrequently been any. Parents who are more concerned with whether their children will like them than whether their children will grow into reasonable members of society, reminiscent of the recently past "self-esteem movement", are creating a self-indulgent and undisciplined group of monsters who either fail to develop theory of mind or are simply so self-absorbed that they don't care about hurting others.

Benjamin Spock is mercifully dead and gone after messing up the parenting of at least a couple of generations, including ours. If a child is raised in a caring environment and receives a swat on the behind for egregious behavior, I cannot believe that this will create a lifetime of emotional scarring nor teach the child to become an abuser. Atty Robert Goldstein made the point that child endangerment laws are already well established and enforced within DFS/DFYS resources. While we all seek to protect our kids and help them grow into the best people possible, this new legislation does neither and probably undermines both goals.

3. From Patrice Fisher

I think it's a bad idea for many reasons, but primarily, it's a slippery slope to a "government" raised society. I'd rather see more parent education and prevention of REAL abuse of all people. Sounds like another scheme to continue to feed the prison industrial complex.
Is there a epidemic of spanking abuse of children under three I don't know about? Of all the laws we could pass to improve the lives of children, it's a very sad statement if this is the best they can come up with.

5. From K.S.

Thanks for sending me this email. I read the article and do have some comments. First the government is going to far here. No we should not spank our children; it does say hitting is okay – which it is not. Is throwing someone in jail or fining them that amount of money going to help – NO! It is an education that is needed to help people understand this issue. I also do not believe that spanking is a parents right!!! And spanking does not tell your child you love them.

Now on the other side – I do understand why people spank. They are not educated to talk to the child to in the way that helps a child understand. Life is a learning process. Patience is another issue. As a human with emotions we tend to get to a level that we feel words don’t work and hitting speaks for us. My son has autism and I know I have felt that way many times. Did it help anyone, no, it only made me feel really bad and to him it was just hitting.

The legislature does not have a place in this issue. No fine or jail time is going to educate parents, it is only going to make then madder and take it out on the kid more and maybe even worse. Parents have killed their kids for wetting the bed, what do you think a huge fine or going to jail would do to them.
My opinion,

6. From Eva M. Spitz-Blum PhD

Spanking is an interesting issue and, as a mother, dog breeder and rancher, psychologist-psychoanalyst, with a byline as cultural anthropologist, I end up with conflicting views.
How do you get a mule to move? Get his attention!
How do you define spanking? There's where the skeleton lies buried

7. From Debbie Devine

I discussed your article with two bright children ages 10 and is what they had to say.
"It sounds like a good law not to spank little if they say don't hit mommy but then the mom hits them it is just wrong..."
As a Marriage and Family Therapist in training, and a former early childhood educator, I also agree that children three years and under should not ever be intentionally hit.(I would not support hitting any child)
However, I feel that a jail time of one year would be more harmful to a child in the case that they might be without their parent. (particularly if it is a single parent with the added stigma of the parent being in jail.)

Instead monetary fines and parenting classes sound like a far better consequence to me...even family therapy is a terrific option. In my motto was the punishment should always fit the crime. Taking away a parent and all the problems associated with that dilemma would not fit the crime to my would create another more serious family hardship and deeper pain to the child if enforced.

8. From Melanie Frost (Personal Comments not reflective of any organization)

In response to the article on drawing up a law around spanking young children, I believe this is a situation that does not have an easy one pat answer; therefore, it should not be a law that one size fits all. Having raised four boys who had enough energy for 12 kids, I believe people will take the liberty of taking situations out of context and good parents will be punished for minor displays of corrections to their children. It is a very different situation of a child misbehaving four or 5 times with the parent trying to redirect them, distract them and keep them safe at time and then on the sixth time giving the child a spank on the behind to get their attention. The common observer may not have seen all the times the parent did do the other ways of managing behavior but saw the last time he misbehaved and got a swat. Is this parent in the same category as the parent who does no corrective redirections and uses spanking as the only means of discipline? Is this the same as the parent who in anger hits his child with force and leaves hand marks on their behinds? And what about the child who says mommy spanked me? W here do we go with all of this. Do you put parents in jail? Why not come in the front door and when a women gets pregnant offer or mandate they take parenting classes prior to the birth of the baby. Give them tools to use before the problems begin. How do they discipline a child? Teach them the correct ways of dealing with children’s behaviors for we all certainly have been there if you have raised children. Where do they go for help? Are there resources for them to call when they cannot cope and do we make that easy for them to do? Parenting is one of the only jobs on this earth that is 24/7/life. We are given no direction or training, resources or help. Isn’t this more where we need to start?

IFK Media Article: Spanking Sparks Debate - and Legislation

Here's the email that sparked this Blog sent on January 27th:

Dear Community,

California is leading the nation again. Or is it? An anti-spanking law for kids 3 and under is about to be brought to the legislature. It's a hot topic and is stirring a lot of debate. I was asked to consult on the following article which presents some of the issues.

Although the author talks about children age 4 and under, my responses are about children age 3 and under, which is what the bill is geared toward. Probably just a misprint.

I'd love to hear how you feel about this proposed legislation and how you believe it might affect our communities. The aim seems to be a wake-up call, with parents being sent to parenting classes as a first line of defense.

Warm regards,
Dr. Charlotte

Welome to the Imagery For Kids Blog

Hello Community.

I've finally been inspired to start a blog and am absolutely thrilled. It was my last email sharing the recent article about no spanking kids under 3 in the upcoming California legislature that sparked this. I asked for comments and received many from parents and professionals expressing very different opinions. So I thought a blog would be the perfect venue to share ideas. Please feel free to add your comments to the ones I will post. And keep checking back as all kinds of topics around kids and parenting will be sure to crop up. Questions and comments welcome!

Warm regards,
Dr. Charlotte