I show concerned parents who want to give their children the best start to life how to better understand their children.

15 Dec 2012

You don’t have to hit to make someone feel

Discipline is often something that sparks much debate when discussing the raising of children. Is it okay to hit your children? As you all know by now (those who have been reading my previous posts, during this Festive period, Christmas time toy for me and Christmas time pressies and parenting), I’ve been helping my dad out with some charity work he does each year. He organist gift-wrapping stations at shopping centers. This gives me an opportunity to interact with many people as they walk by and when I tell them what I do (write books on parenting and give talks about parenting), it sometimes results in them telling me how and what they do or did with their children.

Two days ago, I met a woman. We were talking about the general lack of respect children have for their parents today. Her solution was simple, “If they don’t want to listen, they must feel.” (She said this to me in Afrikaans, her home language.) If her children didn’t want to listen, she would discipline them physically. I do not agree with this because you don’t have to hit someone to make them feel!

Our bodies are feeling all the time. We don’t need to beat each other to get our bodies to do what they do naturally. Is the problem maybe the fact that many of us numb out our feelings, or never learn to feel them properly in the first place? “Boys don’t cry,” “Jealousy is such an ugly color on you,” “You’re a boy, just get over it, you shouldn’t feel scared,” who hasn’t heard these before, or something very similar… Beliefs such as the above inhibit our ability to feel what’s really going on in our bodies. Rather than physical discipline, I ask, is it rather better to show children how to feel emotions, give them space to make mistakes and let them feel their own mistakes...?

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  1. What this woman said was a two step process. "If they won't listen" is the first step. First, she talks to her children and reasons with them. This is your first step as well, and that is as it should be.
    Abuse is when anger is the first and only step a parent takes. Not all anger is abusive. Anger can sometimes be justified.
    When children reach the fifth grade or so, they will have a stubborn contest with the parent. They are testing the parent to see what will happen, how far they can go, where the line is, and if the parent really means what they say. If the parent doesn't win this contest, the child will lose respect for them. This is where the disrespect for parents comes from.
    At this point, the parent must make the second step. They must make the child feel. The child can feel hurt, ashamed, sorry, or a lot of other things, but the parent must enforce the rules.
    A parent must be willing to carry out any threat that is made to make a child comply with a rule or responsibility. If they threaten to take the child off TV for a week, and then only enforce it for a day, the child will learn that the parent doesn't really mean what they say. They will learn that consequences don't really happen, and that they can wiggle out of any punishment or consequence that comes in the future.
    When a child engages in a battle of the wills, the parent must win, and the consequence must be sure. A spanking that is properly administered (bottoms only, bare hands only, not hard enough to bruise, and with a limited amount of swats) can be better than taking a child off TV in some cases. It gets the issue over with. The parent doesn't have to carry a grudge for a week, and keep reminding the child of what they did. The parent doesn't have to punish themselves or the rest of the family by taking everyone else off TV, too.
    In my opinion, a spanking should be reserved as the last resort, but if the case warrants it, it is still a resort a parent can turn to to ensure that they will get the respect they deserve.

  2. Hi Paula
    And thanks for the comment.
    I very much agree with you.
    Anger can be justified, and physical punishment, if administered properly and for the right reasons, is okay.
    The big point that I'm making thought, is we've lost our ability to feel our emotions properly.
    Have a good day and a good Christmas :)