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Friday, August 5, 2011

When the issue of smacking children comes up....does the word polarise and overly simplify the discussion?

On Wednesday I spoke about the challenging issue science has and the flaws with some approaches to methodology and how that makes the conclusions also flawed.


Now this problem doesn’t only apply to pure science.

It also applies to things like studies into human Physchology and Behaviour.

This week many people will have read about the scientific study that supposedly found that smacking your child causes them to be more undisciplined, more non verbal and basically a worse person.

Now that is not at all what the scientific study’s conclusion found at all.

Whatever your view on smacking as a discipline or punishment I think on any view most people will understand this issue a lot better than reporting of this study suggests.

Most parents know that if you lay into and basically physically beat children for every tiny infringement, big ones and small ones and you don’t have the abilities yourself to teach your child self discipline, self control or to understand the difference between self responsibility and consequences of your actions is it likely that your children will learn those things spontaneously?

… Turn It Up

… I’m Michael Robinson

p.s. Recently I've spoken about this issue of some flaws in the claims made by scientific studies, here are just a few posts on this issue.

p.p.s. Interested readers will find the study and reports on this issue already I'm sure.

A few off-air thoughts on the topic of parenting.

I would point those interested to the phrase smacking for big and small infringements.

When disciplining a child it is important that they had first understood what the rules are and what the consequences of breaking those rules was to be.

When (rather than if ....who are we kidding?)....when they break those rules, explain to them the rule, and their actions and the consequences and it is ideal if they have admitted their actions....confession if you like.

Then there is punishment.  It should be punishment that is in keeping with justice must be seen to be done and be done.  This means punishment needs to be to the point of regret.

(NOTE - Some years back a Baptist minister and Principal of a Christian school spoke to a large group I was part of and outlined a list of points he taught as keys in this area....I can't recall his name or the exact points but have done my best to outline here what I've understood from what he raised....if I find more info I'll post under parenting at a later time).

In society with have prisons that are seen as having two roles, protection of society and punishment.  Sometimes we remove a child from a heated fight for the protection of themselves, other people and property, punishment may be separate the removal action.

For different children the point of regret comes from different things.....that is where I don't agree too much societal interference is helpful, but family and close community support is.  What is helpful and constructive punishment for one child may be devastating for is prudent to understand that as the parent (or teacher or group leader).

The forgotten aspect in "discipline" is forgiveness and loving back into the family.  Just as God forgives us and loves us back into His love when we ask for forgiveness through Christ then also we must show our love, forgiveness and importantly reconcile children back into the family.

Other tips:

Discipline privately (ie don't yell at your child in front of other people or children, that is more than humiliating it is degrading and doesn't serve the function people think it does, it is counterproductive.)

Praise publicly.  Praise on your child in front of is positive and builds them up in so many ways.

As far as smacking or physical discipline it is important to understand what is allowed in your local laws, but I believe it serves no purpose to physically discipline a child when you are angry as you are reacting in anger just as you are trying to teach them not to do so.

Also a light smack, one that doesn't leave a lasting mark, bruise or injury etc, is often said to be beneficial (in certain circumstances as per the above premises.   Ideally, help everyone involved achieve these outcomes without corporal punishment but there are times in some circumstances a quick physical "reminder" breaks through the fixation a child may have with a particular line of thinking.

Another point I would raise is:  CONSISTENCY.

If your child begs and nags for lollies at the supermarket and you give in for a year don't complain that they nag you every time you go have trained them to do so.  Remind them (and perhaps yourself) who is the parent.  I don't mind our children asking for things, but they know that I will make the decision.  They also know that if I say no more nagging about that thing (like can we have an ice cream) if they continue to nag me about it then their actions seal their fate and I will decide no ice cream (or whatever).

Have we got parenting down pat?  I'll let you know in a few more generations as I believe parenting is just as much about raising children to be parents who know how to raise their children to do the same other words behaviour modelling that works for many generations.

That takes an extended involvement of family and community.

There are some times (when children are learning to ride a bike, head off to school, learn to drive, start going out on their own etc etc) as parents we feel blessed if we manage to keep our children alive long enough to learn from their own lives, mistakes and experience.  Learning from your own mistakes is a good thing, learning from the mistakes of others is ideal.





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