On when to Spank, Violence Against Children, and How to Prepare for Camp

Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.


I’m just curious. I’m a nanny who is also trying to conceive, and I find the idea of violence toward children abhorrent. But I would like to know at what age parents who do spank consider it appropriate to start. Would you spank your 9-month-old for trying to pull down the DVD player? Your 15-month-old for running off the porch after you told him to wait? Also, at what age do you stop?


Spanking is an incredibly polarizing topic, but your question is a good one.

The answer depends on how you define “spanking.” If you wish to punish a 2-year-old such that you can deter future bad conduct, you might consider a moderate slap on the back of the hand. For a young toddler, that constitutes a spanking.

Spanking children much younger than, say, 18 months is probably of little benefit. Children that young may have trouble connecting punishments to their own conduct. Other types of punishments, such as timeouts, often work equally poorly with very young children.

Once a child reaches 13 or 14, spanking becomes more difficult, and probably less effective than it was at earlier ages. However, by that time, parents can generally draw on a larger selection of potential punishments to establish discipline in the house. Grounding won’t generally faze a 3-year-old. But it could mean a lot to a teen.

I feel compelled to supplement my answer with a comment about your question. You said you find violence toward children “abhorrent.” To that I say, join the club.

All of us oppose violence against children. In my dictionary, the lead definition for violence is “Exertion of any physical force so as to injure or abuse.” I have yet to hear anyone of sound mind suggest that purposely injuring children is a good idea.

But corporal punishment, when administered correctly, is focused and controlled. The purpose is not to injure or to abuse, but instead to deter bad behavior. Parents punish children in an attempt to make the consequences of their action uncomfortable enough so that they will change their ways. For many children, corporal punishment works better than other types of punishment.

Unfortunately, some parents go overboard with punishments of all types. I recent weeks, I’ve read about parents who have starved their children, locked them in dark rooms for long periods of time, and beat them severely. All of these actions represent abuse. But the core punishments – going to bed without supper, serving a timeout, and receiving a spanking – are not abusive in and of themselves.

Child abuse isn’t a spanking problem, any more than it’s a timeout problem. Put the blame for abuse of any kind where it belongs – on the shoulders of the abuser. Because an adult who shows a lack of compassion or judgment can turn any punishment into abuse.


What kind of bedding do you take to a sleep-away camp? We know we have to bring a sleeping bag for her night out, but sheets or blankets? If so, do we pack her comforter?


The answer depends on the camp’s accommodations. If she will spend most nights sleeping in a bed, sheets and a blanket are probably fine. However, a sleeping bag can do the same job as traditional linens, and it provides more flexibility for camping or gathering to sleep in small groups.

I suggest sending her to camp with a sleeping bag, a pillow, and an extra blanket in case she gets cold. Keep the




Itsy Bitsy



Rugrats that


Nag you enough to grow on you

Best Children’s Classic Movies for Family Movie Night

Enjoy a classic movie with your children. Watching classics can open their eyes to a new world of imagination. Don’t be tempted to introduce these in the car DVD player. Watch these movies with them. Movies you saw as a child will seem different from an adult and parent perspective. And you’ll enjoy being there when your child tells you which parts they liked the best.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Charlie wanted more than anything to visit the great chocolate factory. All he needed was to buy a Wonka Bar with one of the five golden tickets hidden inside. We are so disappointed when the fifth ticket is found; we wonder what Charlie will do.

Mary Poppins: Jane and Michael Banks want a new nanny. They promise they won’t put toads in her bed or pepper in her tea if she is sweet and witty. When Mary Poppins shows up they get an adventure way beyond their imagination.

Cinderella: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is the ultimate fairy tale. Cinderella must get to the ball if she wants to meet the prince. Her stepmother will not let her go. Then her fairy godmother comes to help.

Wizard of Oz: Dorothy meets a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion on the yellow brick road. The travel to find the Wizard of Oz so Dorothy can return to her home in Kansas but they must elude the Wicked Witch of the West.

Sound of Music: A young nun cannot conform to the rules of the convent and is sent to care for Captain Von Trapp’s children. She teaches them to sing and how to play. The Captain, who hasn’t heard music since his wife died, does not like the change.

Old Yeller: A coming of age story about a boy and his dog. While he first rejects the dog, he comes to love it. Then he must make a difficult choice. This choice will determine the boy’s character.

Anne of Green Gables: A red-headed orphan is a spirited change for a brother and sister who live on a farm on Prince Edward Island.

Chitty Bang Bang: Take an exciting and musical ride in the magical but clunker jalopy. One close call after another, the car barely makes it.

Dr. Dolittle: Do you wish you could talk to the animals? You’ll love this delightful story of Dr. Dolittle and his talking animals.

Swiss Family Robinson: Shipwrecked on a deserted island. Watch the family adapt to a new life on this island.

These are wonderful movies the whole family will enjoy. Plan a special time to watch these.

Create a Family-journal and Give Your Children Something Unique!

We all want to leave something in this world. So, when we’re sitting on our pink cloud in the sky one day,we have the good feeling we have not been there for no reason. Because that would be a poor thought, that you have done absolutely nothing worthwhile with your life! Not everybody is creative; so leaving a lot of beautiful paintings or sculptures or even a book is not given to everyone, unfortunately. But here is something everybody who can hold a pen can do: write a Family-journal.

By that I don’t mean a dairy with all your inner-most thoughts in it. I mean something else entirely.

In every family there are stories, memories, of all the people who make up your family now and in the past. Part of these are probably stored in your mind now, on a sub-conscious level. You remember uncle so and so, he who always had jokes to tell. Or your grandmother who was good at baking and had beautiful hair. You remember how they lived, where they lived, how they spoke, how they were to you.

The idea came for me in winter. It was cold, rain slashing, and nothing on TV. I took out the photo-books and snuggled up on the couch for a cozy afternoon. A couple of memories came back and I smiled. My son, who is an adult now would never believe me how I had lived when I was growing up. What would he have done without his I-Pod, computer and cell-phone? My mind went back a bit further to my parents’ generation. World War II raged through Europe then……..and so I ended with my grand-parents . How did these people live? I could remember their house and what they had looked like, but what kind of life had they lived?

First I made a Family-tree, on white card-board. I was surprised to see that it went a lot further in the past than I thought. I added photo’s of everybody,starting at the oldest ancestor, going right down to my son. I added the dates when they were born and when they died.When I showed son this he was impressed. All these people had come together in order for him to exist. And looking at his photo you can see a bit of this long line of ancestors in his face.

I decided I wanted to know more about these long dead ancestors of mine and asked aunts, uncles and parents. What I wanted was stories, about real people! The strange thing is, I ‘d always thought that these people were poor and unhappy. No outings, no parties, a miserable life with nothing to look forward to. Well, poor they were but to my big surprise they had not been unhappy at all! And although they might not have had the Internet, they knew exactly what was going on in the world. I heard so many interesting family-stories that I decided to write it all down for future generations.

My journal is written for a small audience:the future generation of my family. It also has a part of world-history in it that young people don’t know about. A fine example is WWII: a 15-year old (future History-student) asked me the other day if the people in Europe had fought at all! Your “history” might be vastly different of course; I can imagine African-American people have a lot of history to tell their next generation. Or it could be that your family has lived in wealthy circumstances in the past. How did that go with servants tripping over

Family Fun in the Great Outdoors Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard

We, as a society spend so much time running here and running there to do things we consider fun we sometimes take for granted all the fun and wonder there is to be had in our own back yard.

Go camping

Is there an old tent taking up space in the garage? Bring it out, dust it off and get ready for a night sleeping under the stars. During the day plan a backyard scavenger hunt. Write a list of flowers, insects, rocks, leaves etc and send your family in search of nature. If a scavenger hunt isn’t your families cup of tea, set up a crafts table and make some faux fossils. This requires a small investment because you will need to purchase a box of Plaster of Paris as well as balls of clay. For each item you want to “fossilize” set one ball of clay on waxed paper. Use items with depth such as acorns, rocks, twigs or pine cones. Using an old rolling pin that you don’t need for food anymore roll the clay into a circle. If no rolling pin is available roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, that’s the point of camping right? When you have your circle of clay, impress your object into the clay and then remove. Follow the instructions on the box of Plaster of Paris keeping the consistency thick but make sure it is smooth. Pour you plaster mixture into the imprint of your item and let it harden for 30-60 minutes. Peel the clay mold away from the plaster and you have your “faux fossil”. You and the kids can paint them if you like or simply leave natural. You have just created a memory that will last a lifetime.

BBQ an easy dinner for the family with your own grill in your own backyard. No need to make it complicated but make certain to make it fun! Simple hamburgers and hot dogs are always great with the kids but if you are feeling adventurous BBQ a pizza on your grill. Buy a premade pizza crust next to the rolls of refrigerator biscuits at the grocery store. Make your own favorite pizza sauce or buy a can. You don’t even need to chop vegetables and meat. Most large supermarkets now have a salad bar where you can find exactly what you need cleaned and chopped, all yours for the taking. Oil the grill with a spritzer bottle or a simple basting brush will do the trick as well. Place the fully built pizza on the hot oiled grill but just remember to keep the toppings somewhat light. In order to heat up 2 pounds of meat per pizza your grill may need more time to cooking time resulting in a tough and burned crust. Serve with raw vegetables and the veggie dip of your choice. Lemonade is always a favorite on campsites but add some color to your drink. Before your camping trip make a some pink lemonade and place in an ice cube tray. Freeze until they are ice cubes and then bring them to the camp site and pour regular lemonade over them. As the ice melts it will create a new flavor sensation and change the lemonade to a pretty pink color, much to the delight of the kids. For the adults, add a splash of white wine to the lemonade for a lemony wine cooler that is out of this word. Of course no camping trip is complete without s’mores. The quintessential camping dessert is simply graham crackers, a bar of chocolate

Chicago: The Deadliest U.S. City for Children?

America is no doubt one of the “best” nations on earth. But all is not well here. One of the country’s best cities – Chicago, seems to be a death trap especially for children. In a special report in his program – AC360°, last Wednesday, 6 May, 2009, CNN’s Anderson Cooper X-rayed the growing death toll in Chicago, where school children are being killed in an alarming proportion.
So far, 36 students have been murdered in Chicago, during this school year; with 16 – year old Ramone Morris, as the latest victim. He was killed early Wednesday. Police found him on the street, shot in the back of the head. It should be noted here that most of the shootings are believed to be part of gang turf war – a common phenomenon in the city.

Chicago, according to Maureen Miller, an AC360° contributor, “is now the deadliest city for school children in the United States”. The program (AC360°) gave an up close look at the problem through the eyes of a 10 year old boy, whose brother was murdered. Meanwhile its presenter Anderson Cooper also talked with Chicago’s Police Superintendent, Jody Waise, on what the cops is doing to try to stop the calamity. Waise told Anderson Cooper, that the issues of Death, Violence and gang activities are being provoked by the proliferation of guns and illegal drugs on the street.

But Chicago’s Mayor, Richard Daley, told AC360, “This happens in every big city.” A statement many took as an opportunity to condemn, and fault the mayor for being uncaring, and out of touch about the issue. 
“Mr. Mayor, tell us what you’re doing to stop these murders and protect the CPS students?” Louis questioned. Adding, “He can’t tell us because he’s not doing anything about it. These murders will continue to occur as long as Richard Daley is our mayor. His #1 priority is securing the 2016 Olympics, not the safety and well being of Chicagoans”.

Sullivan Anu on his part expressed great concern on the children who witness these killings especially those who are directly affected. He further marveled about the counseling system for the younger ones who are still at school. “How do the younger ones deal with such experiences?” he queries. Though Sullivan honestly recognizes the hard work of the police in handling the situation, he intimated “we need to understand that every action is a reaction to some other action and if the community in question is not seeing any breakthroughs, developments, changes… that too contributes to the numbness that was pointed out so much more effort is needed in Chicago”.

But Mike strongly believes race has a part to play in the whole issue. Hear him “I am wondering if it were well off white kids dying in these kinds of numbers if more people would take notice. The point is that “well off” White kids don’t murder each other at anything even approaching the pace that “disadvantaged” non-white kids do. And that’s even when you count the much-publicized Columbine-type shootings – the overall numbers still aren’t even in the same ballpark. Ask yourself why”.

People react to temper tantrums in several ways. Whenever they see a kid scream, some of them point out that the scenario could be the inspiration advertisers of contraceptives really need. Many a person who hears and sees a choir of squalling youngsters at the mall wishes that the parents would spank or even hotsauce them. Some others just stare, then ignore them ‘” that’s all.

But what if they ever judge a kid who might have autism,

A Fire Safety Message for Your Children

Young children are particularly vulnerable to fire hazards and it is therefore important to teach them about fire safety in the home. A number of parents will turn to the internet or visit the local library to search out this information. Such steps are unnecessary. Much of what can be taught is common sense. By taking practical steps and ensuring your home is safe you can help reduce the risk to children.

Child education programs often suggest formulating a plan of what to do in the event of a fire that the whole family understands. It should be kept simple enough so that young children under the age of 12 will know what to do. Youngsters are often exposed to lighters and matches at school or in the park so get to them first and warn them of the hazards of playing with fire, before curiosity gets the better of them. Try to enforce the message that lighters and matches are not toys and should not be treated as such, and if you keep such items at home, place them somewhere little hands cannot reach.

In the home, the kitchen is a prime spot for fires so be sure to teach children about kitchen safety. It might be an idea to keep youngsters out of the kitchen while you are cooking until they reach an age when they know how to be safe. A common cause of fires in the kitchen is oil being left on the stove at a high temperature so it is important to keep an eye on flammable products. It is worth noting that it is actually adults who are more likely to start a fire. Be sure to let children know this fact. It will help build their awareness but also their confidence.

Children need to know what to do in case of a fire breaking out. Tell them what they should do if they ever catch on fire or find themselves trapped in thick smoke. In emergency situations children will rely on their parents or the nearest adults to keep them safe. Stay calm – it will only make matters worse if the adults start to panic. The important points to remember and pass on to children are if clothes catch on fire, drop to the ground and roll around until it is extinguished. In the event of thick smoke, it is crucial to get the child wrapped in a wet blanket crawling below the smoke.

Educating children about the dangers of fire is a long process with parents and guardians being the educators. While you may think your house is completely safe, you can never be sure – hazards are everywhere. To reduce the risk ensure your house is well-equipped with smoke alarms and consider purchasing non-traditional vocal smoke alarms that allow you to set up an alert using your own voice. You can then record instructions on what to do, which is great for younger children as the sound of your voice may help them to calm down.

As the adult, the child¹s safety lies in your hands so it is important that you constantly keep up-to-date with the safety information out there and pass it on to them – do not let your child become susceptible.

How to Keep Your Adult Children from Moving Back

Thrilled my parents told me, thrilled. At least that made one of us, or so I thought.

After graduating from college I had two choices. Find a place without a job lined up and sign a lease when I only needed a temporary place to stay or talk to mom and dad. My parents claim none of the circumstances that kept me from moving in for months were intentional, but I have reason to believe otherwise.

If you have adult aged children who are asking about the possibility of moving back home and you are less than thrilled there are some things you can do to keep that from happening.

Start remodeling

Time to start those remodeling projects that you have been putting off for years. Sure you have more than enough room for them to stay, but first you need to remodel the room to make sure it is the best it can be for them. There are two ways to go about this project. Hire yourself a contractor who is a perfectionist and make sure you tell him he has all the time in the world to finish the project. If you have budget concerns or are a do-it-yourselfer, even better. Grab your favorite sledge hammer and have fun with the walls, don’t forget to pay special attention to the floors.

Both of these approaches work best when you run out of energy or money halfway through.

Introduce a Roommate

One of the hardest parts about moving back in with your parents is moving back in with your parents and everything that comes with them. So use this to discourage your children as much as possible, introduce them to their future roommate, their teenage sister. If they thought freshman year with an incompatible roommate was difficult they will die when they find out they have to room with a teenager. Suggest they begin their new life together by discussing closet space.

Hired Help

Already planning on hiring a maid, gourmet chef, or personal assistant? Perfect! The minute your children bring up the subject of wanting to move back in throw out the pile of applications and let them know they just solved your biggest problem. If the discussion is taking place in your home tell your son or daughter they can start their trial period immediately and hand them the grocery list.

Bond, Bond, Bond

Your adult children are used to their space and freedom by now, so greedily take it all away. Do whatever is in your power to spend all the time you possibly can with them. Does your daughter go to the gym every morning? Get a membership of your own. If your son plays video games to relax after work make sure you join him and insist he play 20 questions with you on the side.

Find out every interest, hobby, and activity your children take a part in and make it your newfound love. Make sure you are there for them all day long, all in the name of bonding of course.

There are several more aggressive ways to deter your children from moving back home but give these passive ideas a try before moving on. Who knows, you might just end up with a beautiful new sewing room or a newfound love for the playstation.

Parents with Children Not Growing Up and Moving Out

There was a Dr Phil show recently that featured a young man who would not grow up and go out on his own. He was quite comfortable allowing his mother to take care of his every need. The most remarkable aspect of this situation was the young man’s unabashed attitude about living off his parents. This situation may not be as rare as we think it is. I realize now that when I was growing up there was a man next door who was living off his mother. It was remarkable to me, even at an early age, how irresponsible he was.

How does this situation evolve and what should parents do to make sure that it doesn’t happen to them?

I may not be the best person to answer this question since all three of my children were more than ready to be on their own. My concern at that time was that they might be out there too early but they all did real well in life and I could not be prouder of them. So how does this life-long dependency evolve? It has to be an absence of ambition and the lack of development in one’s self-confidence.

How does a parent correct this situation?

I will leave that up to people like Dr Phil and other psychiatrists. How to prevent it from happening does not require clinical help. Dependency is a learned trait in a child. What a child learns sticks with them into adulthood. If a child’s life consists of one or both parents constantly making all the decisions for the child, how can they expect the child to make decisions on his own? If the child never experience’s the opportunity to make choices in life, the young man or woman will not be able to make life choices. If the child does not develop the maturity to overcome a fear of the unknown then there is no way they can face the unknowns of pursuing a life of their own in adulthood.

It is becoming fairly obvious that the problem results from a parent being overprotective or a child growing up in a small protective cocoon where he makes friends with computer games instead of experiencing life with his or her peers. Young people have a remarkable talent for forcing each other into adulthood. They do not accept their peer’s reluctance to try things. They introduce each other to experiences and choices (good and bad) that one would not encounter alone. This is one of the problems facing parents who home school. They have to make a special effort to ensure that their children have an ample opportunity to interact with their peers.

The most important lesson a parent can teach a child is the lesson of expectations in adulthood.

I have some relatives who raised five great kids. One of their family traditions was the “Breaking of the Plate” ceremony when the appropriate time came. The ceremony consisted of a few sentimental words about growing up and then the literal breaking of a plate. This ceremony accomplished two purposes. One, the ceremony creates a demarcation point in life for the young person. Secondly, all the young people present know that this point if life is in their future and they have to think about it whether they want to or not. What is most important is the reference made to the ceremony in early childhood. Children must grow up with the expectation of developing their way in life.

Many parents develop a general acceptance in their child that their future will consist of college,

Top Children’s Movies of All-Time

I recently began doing research on a list of the top children’s movies ever made. I’d hoped to be able to compile a list of 100 great movies you can watch with any age child and not have to explain anything to do with sex, cover their eyes during graphic violence or explain ideas that are well over their heads. The first thing I discovered is that there really aren’t that many resources for this type of list and no one seems to ever have been able to come up with 100 movies that you could watch with both a 4-year-old and a nine-year-old. I fairly quickly assessed that my list would have to be considerably shorter. Perhaps 50 films. In reality, fewer films


Many lists included films that I believe everyone should see at some point in their lives but I didn’t feel were even remotely appropriate for or interesting to children. Some of the truly wonderful animated films that were included in other lists I simply have found too complicated for younger children to understand and, in some cases, too frightening. Many included movies that would be terrific for your pre-teen and teenaged children, but not for younger children. What I was looking for were those films that your family could pop into the DVD player on Friday evening and watch as a family. Eventually, I put together a list of 45 films that you can all watch together. Disney is, of course, heavily represented, mostly because they are the only studio that has been putting out movies for children for as long as they have. Many are classics, some are new, some are foreign (but no subtitles are needed), many are animated, and some are part of a series. I have not attempted to rank the movies; I’ll let you do that on your own.

1. The Wizard of Oz 
2. National Velvet 
3. The Yearling 
4. Old Yeller 
5. Black Stallion 
6. E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial 
7. The Princess Bride 
8. Fantasia (the original) 
9. The Red Balloon 
10. Babe, the Gallant Pig 
11. Toy Story (both) 
12. Beauty and the Beast 
13. Finding Nemo 
14. Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs 
15. The Music Man 
16. The Sound of Music 
17. Shrek 
18. The Little Mermaid 
19. Mary Poppins 
20. The King And I 
21. Peter Pan 
22. Pinocchio 
23. James and The Giant Peach 
24. The Secret Garden 
25. The Rookie 
26. Duma 
27. Neverland 
28. The Incredibles 
29. The Princess Diaries 
30. Fly Away Home 
31. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe 
32. Cinderella (animated) 
33. Sleeping Beauty 
34. Wallace & Gromit (the trilogy of shorts as well as the full-length feature) 
35. Oliver (1968) 
36. Whale Rider 
37. Jungle Book 
38. The Bear 
39. The Incredible Journey (original) 
40. Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang 
41. The Lion King 
42. The Iron Giant 
43. The Secret of Roan Inish 
44. Pollyanna 
45. Lassie Come Home