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By Paige Ferrari

Kate Gosselin is hitting back against critics who say the "Jon & Kate Plus 8" mom used excessive force in disciplining her daughter, Leah.

Kate said in a statement to Life & Style magazine: "Whether the paparazzi are there or not, I am a mother first. I love my children and when they misbehave, I discipline them as I deem appropriate for the situation."

In Touch first reported that Kate delivered 5-year-old Leah Gosselin a spanking after the girl persisted in blowing a whistle while mommy was chitchatting on the phone. (Could Kate have been gabbing with her sadistically innovative hairstylist? Please, oh please, let Kate have been talking to her hairstylist.)

RELATED: Is Kate's hairdo a don't?

Of course, Kate is no stranger to controversy. Not only have alleged infidelities in her marriage to Jon Gosselin made her a tabloid staple, her show is also under investigation for possibly breaking child labor laws in Pennsylvania.

So stop blowing that whistle, Leah. Mommy is very ... very ... stressed right now.

UPDATE: Jon and Kate are expected to announce their divorce -- er -- some "life-changing decisions" on Monday's show.

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Photos: Jon and Kate