Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 7: How to parent children without spanking them or telling them "no"—R.P.F.

My favorite example of positive parenting was when a child was about to run out into the street and the Mom yelled, "Danger!" Well, I'd probably get corrected—by verbal affirmation, of course—for using the word "yelled". I'm sure the mother actually said it in as close to her normal voice as possible. "Danger" was an attempt to tell the kid to stop and tell him why he needed to stop all at the same time. There is a distinct need in the process of positive discipline for the parent to feel that they are being straightforward with their child, calmly giving their child all the reasons why something is wrong or why something could hurt them, often without taking into account that the kid could care less and has already started plotting how they can go about the same endeavor in a different manner or, if he or she is a rather compliant child, thinking about moving on to the next toy to be played with. "Danger" is itself negative. It brings ill tidings, it bodes ill consequences. It strikes fear while cloaked in the guise of logical reasoning and explanation. Reasoning cannot take place at the climax of an emotionally charged event. A mother fearing for her child's safety is probably going to end up yelling "danger!" in the same manner she would holler "stop!" or "no!". So why not simply shout a command that will cause them to actually stop, gather your wits, and then explain to the kid that they could get hurt by running out into the street, rather then trying to issue the warning and the explanation all in one foul swoop.

There are many reasons why we should not spank our children. One takes the approach that our parents did it that way and we should find a better way. Along a similar line of fallacious reasoning I found this tid-bit on why not to spank:

"Spanking is seen as punishment for a crime or payment for a debt. In other words, once paid, they have a clean slate. Spanking gets in the way of allowing a child to develop a conscience. The guilt that follows misbehavior is a prime motivator for change. Spanking takes away the guilt, because the crime has been paid for."

Hmmm. I fell like that's the key to why young children turn into men and women who wallow in shame and live with guilt they constantly try to medicate away. Don't spank him, let the kid wallow in his guilt. Guilt is a prime motivator for change, the kind of change that causes a teenager to cut or a college student to binge. But for the sake of positive parenting let's just hope that from the depths of your child's contrition one day will bloom the flower of conscience. And while you're waiting for that lovely bloom, experts tell us to "let your child know that you know he wants to do the right thing and you are here to help him learn how".


Anonymous said...

Interesting points here. But I think it's safe to say that you don't have a 1 1/2 year old boy.

Anonymous said...

And I think it is also safe to say that I think you will be a dang good parent considering you are thinking of these things before you do ever have kids!

Amy said...

Anonymous #1: I do not in fact have any children of my own, but have helped raise a few of them at one time or another including my two sisters and brother. I'm sure my world will be rocked when I do have my own kids!

Anonymous #2: Thanks for the encouragement.

D.E.R. said...

It seems that this ended up being a defense of spanking, though, after revealing the fallacies and guilt manipulation that may lead parents to NOT spank. Hilarious.

Inkling said...

Fortunately, I'm not there yet to have to decide how to discipline our little guy. He's only five months old, so I've got a tiny bit of time. I'm thinking that the best way to fulfill the title of this post would be to mail the child to Dr. Dobson or some other type of parenting guru. They could then mail the child back upon achieving college age or something. Yes, that seems to be the easiest way for me to avoid spanking my adorable little boy who has recently given up sleep for next year's lent. Obviously, he's teething, so it's not his fault. But when he's old enough to give up sleeping for Lent just because he knows Mama needs to sleep like she needs chocolate, then I'll either mail him to you or the Dobsons. =)