Monday, March 12, 2007

Sometimes, isn't a little punishment good for the soul?

Ah, morning radio. It's like the pesky friend you sometimes like, but more often find just slightly too annoying to pay full attention to. This morning, the topic (extended from Friday) was from a book written by a mother of five, regarding how to discipline your children without punishments. Please bear in mind that I haven't read this book, nor do I plan to, since the non-existent children I have are pretty well-behaved... usually. It won't stop me from commenting, though.

I didn't get to hear the whole segment, traffic being light today so that I arrived at work earlier than expected, but I gather the point she was making was that you don't need to punish your kids in order to resolve a problem. For example, if her teenager broke curfew by coming home at 3 AM, she would not do something like take away the cell phone for a week, or ground the kid. (What she WOULD do - I'm not sure - since she just said some vague nonsense about how there should be a positive solution.) (Here's where reading the book would make this post a bit more on point eh.) Someone asked, aren't there negative consequences in the real world when you do something wrong, and aren't you just teaching your kids that there are no negative consequences... her response was that yes, the real world has negative consequences, but as a parent you have a vested interest in how your kids turn out, and you should be the one to work positively with them.

I suppose her argument has some merit... after all, some forms of punishment are probably a bit harsh. I'm sure every parent out there has flown into a rage at some point in time. But try as I might, I could not envision what positive reaction I might be able to have to my kid doing something wrong. Let's say, for example, that I had a toddler who, despite my warnings not to throw that ball in the house, threw a ball into the TV. Clearly the answer isn't necessarily a spanking, but would it be wrong of me to remove the ball? Or to have the child apologize and sit in a time-out? I just can't think what "positive" thing I could do. Apparently one suggestion this author has is to have a "time-in" - you basically spend that few minutes teaching your child how to calm down, rub his or her back, give a hug, let him/her bang out frustrations on a toy drum, etc.

Frankly, I find this absurd. I can subscribe to the Nanny 911 or Supernanny form of time-out (the kid gets a few minutes to sit alone, and then the parent sits down to explain what said child did wrong), but it seems weird to immediately dole out the backrubs and hugs and positivity.... never mind the mixed message involved in banging on a toy drum to let out anger (if a drum is okay, why wouldn't younger sibling's head also suffice?) I understand how one must work on the root of the problem and teach problem-solving as opposed to fits of anger, but when a fit of anger occurs, is that really the time to dig into what the root of the problem is? Or is that the time to say "Go to your room NOW and don't you dare give me that look if you want to get out of your room before you're 30."

I'm clearly going to be a harsh parent one day. Have some pity for my future kids.

1 comment:

Tree said...

I don't agree with this mother/author 100%, but I believe that a positive approach in discipline is better. However, what this woman is suggesting (i.e. hugging right after the "bad incident") could become coddling and give a false sense of reality as someone suggested. It depends on the parent to balance the hugging and the scolding and in my line of work, I can't say that I've seen a completely "balanced" child (or parent), but I have seen the results of too much hugging and/or not enough of it.