Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child?
Children Need Discipline and Punishment
Spare the rod and spoil the child. Does this statement have some truth to it? or is it just a thing of the past? Many parents today, and many in the past 20 years, vowed to never hit their children. Do you think this is a good decision or could it possiby contribute to the out-of-control society in which we now live.
Countless children I see today are not given any consequences – by the universe or by their parents. Some negative behaviors come with their own, natural consequences and some come without any consequences. Sometimes a bad behavior without a consequence can create a disastrous situation in the future.
What Punishment Works?
I don’t believe that being a parent gives anyone the right to hit their children. Young children (especially under the age of three) don’t have an understanding of what ‘could’ happen if they do something wrong unless we, as parents, give them a consequence. At this age, they don’t yet have reasoning skills.
When a young child decides it might be fun to play with the knobs on a cold stove top or climb up onto the stove top, what is a good reaction for the parent? *How about when a teething child puts the lamp cord in their mouth and starts to chew it? What response is good when they have found a car key and try to insert it into an electrical outlet? What about when the child has been removed from their car seat and the adult takes their eye off them for two seconds while reaching for a bag; what punishment is appropriate for that child who starts to run into the street or parking lot?
Sure, we can give children punishment; we can take away their favorite toy. In reality, they’ll just go on to the next toy and forget about the one we took away. Will time-out in the corner have the right influence? Will mommy or daddy being mad at the child have an effect that will save them from harm in the future?
A Parents Number One Job is to Keep Their Children Safe
First and foremost, a parent's job is to keep children safe. A slap on the hand hurts; does this help parents keep their children safe? Would it make the child realize that if they repeat unacceptable behavior, it will hurt?
If there is no consequence or the consequence is not big enough for bad behavior, the child will likely repeat the bad behavior again. This can carry later into life – expectations of no consequences for other, more serious, bad behavior.
EVERYTHING we do has a reaction. Good behavior has good consequences and bad behavior has bad consequences. We, as parents, need to teach this to our children when the universe does not step in - when that child is not burned because the stove does not happen to be hot.
So when your child picks up an electrical cord, will they chew it or promptly remember a consequence and put it down? Will they get burned on the hot stove top because when they touched a cold stove, no one taught them it can burn? Will they be hit by a car because they did not understand it is unsafe to run off when they get out of a car?
What will you do to teach your child the seriousness of their actions? Perhaps you have already had good luck with a certain style of punishment. Please share with us, the punishments you think have worked for your child.
My Disfigured Classmate Learned a Tough Lesson
*I had a classmate whose face was disfigured from chewing on an electrical cord. I always wondered if this happened the first time the child chewed on the cord or if the parents had simply neglected to teach the child this was unacceptable behavior on the first attempt. This was a sad lesson for a young child to learn, who probably did not even remember the incident because they were so young.