Cynics Summary: Hey, being a good parent means treating your child like a human being, and trying to establish a rapport such that your requests make sense to the child. Coaching your child about consequences for actions (good and bad) are still the primary method of behavioral training. Punishments should be used sparingly to be of good affect.
I'm no new-age fanboi and got beat plenty, myself, as a kid, but this is pretty much the approach I took with my son. If he wanted to do something that was gonna cause pain, I'd tell him he might not want to do that, and here's why. I might even set up a demonstration, a la Gallagher, with something that would splatter to provide context. At the same time, I held myself to the same standards: if I said he couldn't do something, I didn't turn right around and do it myself. And I didn't create some docile paper tiger: he was a sectional champion in wrestling, taking fourth in NY State - before they split into big/small schools. There's nothing wrong with treating your kids as humans - just smaller and less able, at first - rather than something lesser. The problem, however, is good parenting takes work, and too many parents half-ass it.
You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.