Resorting to Violent Correction in Dangerous Situations

This is absolutely beautifully written.  I shall direct you to her blog for many more tender morsels that hopefully will encourage you on your journey.

S O U R C E

The Danger Dilemma

One grey area in the Gentle Parenting debate seems to be what to do about dangerous situations. Many spankers argue that they only find spanking necessary when their children attempt something dangerous, and they feel no compunction against using physical punishment in those cases. I feel qualified to dissect and hopefully expose this argument, because I was one of those parents. I thought it better to smack my child’s hand then to let him experience a cut or burn.

One of the moments when a child MUST know absolutely that his parents love him- no matter what- is the moment he has found himself in danger. Children need a refuge- a safe place to run.  Think Prodigal Son. So what happens when, after obeying Mom’s order to come back off the street or to drop the sharp knife, a child is punished? Don’t they need something ‘for shock value’ just to communicate how terrible that thing was they almost experienced? Shouldn’t a parent ‘do something’ to inform the child of her fear for him? Pain is a deterrent, right? If my child learns to associate pain with a certain thing- say the oven for example, or the word ‘hot’- isn’t that a good thing?

Life threatening situations are the one thing that parents think gives them the right to at least punish, and usually spank or confine or both, a child.  It is our fear speaking in that moment…a fear that often turns to anger at being afraid. We direct that anger towards the child who, ‘should have known better’. When a child who has never attempted anything dangerous attempts something dangerous (and he/she will) punishment still doesn’t work. Either the consequences of the act will be enough, or they won’t be- and then a parent’s job becomes to modify the environment or provide supervision until the fascination with the forbidden thing ends.

Maximus learned very early what HOT meant. I’d pour coffee while he was balanced on my hip and he’d reach for it. Over and over every day he’d hear, ‘Hot! No touch! Hurt baby!’ He stopped reaching for my coffee. A year later we started cooking together. He complied with my instructions regarding the stove and oven. I NEVER expected him at the ripe old age of 3.5 to lay his hand on the burner. Angels must have been working overtime that night, because he barely got burned. A while later, he snuck cheese off of a pizza right out of the oven and burned his fingertips, mouth and his forearm where he laid it against the rim of the pizza pan. That burn has healed- but a red scar remains… Now when I’m cooking and he gets too close, I remind him, ‘remember what happened to your arm?’ and he steps away. I watch him as closely now as the 2 year old.

My warnings were not enough. No matter that I had taught him that ‘Stove’ was ‘hot’ and ‘hot’ meant ‘hurt’ he STILL didn’t understand that a burn equals pain. That is something he would never have understood without the experience. Of course I wish he could have learned that lesson without the pain, but I think we all know life really doesn’t work that way. So many people would suggest I smack his fingers so he ‘learns’ that if he touches the stove he’ll be hurt. But children do not learn well by conditioned response. This is one area where Dr. Dobson’s reasoning and my experience conflict wildly. When you repeated smack a child’s fingers for touching things, two things happen. The first lesson that the child learns is that it’s bad to touch things, period. That leads to problems later when you wish your child would be interested in trying new things, but you have inadvertently taught her to avoid anything interesting. The second is that the child becomes desensitized to pain in this regard. If you’re a spanker, you’ve probably seen this phenomenon. The shock of the smacking wears off.

Another thing- in regard to ‘shock value’; Not every child perceives a spanking in the same way. I have realized that Maximus may not feel pain very sharply. Spankings never seemed to have any shock value to them, ever. When I think of the things I tried to get his attention…..I feel sick. That time he burned his forearm? He never told me! He nevercomplained about it…until the blister popped when he scraped it on something. I never knew it was that bad! It took a month or more in healing and the spot is still visible.

In regard to running away- into the street, etc. – Maximus responded quite predictably when I spanked him for running away. He started to run away whenever he thought I was angry with him. When he saw me coming, he ran farther away. 🙁  The first time I got to him and did not spank him…he didn’t know what to think. After a bit, I could call to him, ‘Maximus stop and wait for me.’ and he would- because he knew I wouldn’t hurt him. A while after that, I could call to him to come back and he would meet me halfway, take my hand and walk calmly back to the house with me, often telling me he was glad I was there.

My point is that when I stopped trying to enforce the wrongness and danger of what he was doing, I started to get the results I was aiming at- Safety!  He started to pay attention to me, and take my instructions seriously when I. Calmed. Down.  That was (not so) coincidentally the same time I actually started enforcing the boundaries for him that I had previously set. I began going out and getting him immediately as soon as he left the house without me (instead of yelling several times). I put a second lock on the screen door that he could not open. I started going outside with him more often- I realized he needed the sunshine and the free space to roam. We took more walks. (I got off my lazy duff) Every time he tried to get out without me, I re-stated the boundary- ‘You may not go outside without Mommy or Daddy.’

Gradually, he began to stop trying to get out by himself. He started asking to go out more often. One day he asked to go outside when I was cooking and Minimus was napping. I told him I couldn’t go out, but that if he could stay on the porch, he could go out without me. He did! We worked our way up from there, each small success granting him more freedom as my trust in him grew. He had to stay where I could see him from the porch, and he HAD to answer me when I called his name- or he had to come right back in. The amazing thing is that when I needed to go out and bring him in because he had violated those boundaries, he would often come in without a contest! Sometimes I just had to ask, other times I had to go get him, but he didn’t run from me anymore. I had earned HIS trust back once again.

The surest way to help a child deal with danger is to first keep them safe; second, allow room in the boundaries for small developments in safety skills; and third, set a clear boundary and enforce it.

 
greenegem

Here, Let Me Do That… Let Me Help

I came across this blurb (end of post) a few months back.  I don’t recall what led me to it specifically.  Sometimes I’ll find something so profound that I’ll compose a draft with its contents knowing I will want to write about it later.  Tonight, I started to go through my “drafts” for the purpose of writing out of discipline.  This stuck out… But before I address said contents, I want to digress.  🙂 ________________________________________________________ The other day, I had a simple and brief conversation with my husband that I think is one of the more “successful” instances where we actually communicated effectively, bi-directionally.  Further, I think the conclusion of the conversation was mutual and effective; the far reaching benefits of a very simple concept are already starting to be evident.

Let me give you a brief bit of background information so you can follow the dialogue I will use to share the experience with you.  My daughter, who will be three in the very near future, has taken to a specific doll.  When we began our nomadic journeys, 4 months ago, she suddenly became very attached to this doll (she calls her “Baby”) and we fostered her interest.

Every day, my daughter’s waking thought is to care for her Baby; she won’t get out of bed without first tending to her.  Sometimes my daughter will personify her own needs through those of her baby (“Mama, my baby is hungry for breakfast”), and often she will simply communicate her Baby’s needs, independent of her own.  She keeps track of her Baby as we do her.

The doll is never left at home alone, she won’t leave her in the car alone, she takes her everywhere she goes.  We have never tested her loyalty by, for instance, leaving the doll in the car overnight (having taken my sleeping daughter in from the carseat).  We have too much respect and value for our child to test her dedication to this doll, or to attempt to make her prove how that dedication represents her internal values.  We don’t want to know her anguish at waking in the middle of the night to find her Baby not lying next to her, but instead discover that baby had been left alone, in the cold and dark, abandoned.  This is the extent of value her Baby has: We have two children now, one just happens to be stuffed with cotton and the other is stuffed with bones, nerves, arteries, and muscles.  This is also the extent of admiration and awareness we have of our what our daughter holds as valuable… and what we hold as valuable.

I assume you get the picture.

We have taken to commenting on our daughter’s attentiveness by statements such as, “Your Baby is such a lucky baby to have you”, and “It’s so awesome to see you take such great care of your Baby…. You always know just what she needs”.

We have even, on occasion, indicated to our kiddo that her baby seems to need her, taking our cue from our daughter saying things like, “My baby is scared of _________, she needs me to hold/fix/take care of her.”  As well as the baby being hungry, thirsty, hot/cold, tired… etc.

I often remark that my daughter is a wonderful mama for her baby.  And sometimes we say that she’s “such a good Baby Mama”.  She understands and acknowledges our praise and recognition, usually with some sort of intelligent response that demonstrates and affirms our comments.  However, the other day I noticed a different response…

Instead of affirming our comments, she rather sulked. It was barely perceivable, but I happened to catch a glimpse of a momentary facial expression, followed by just a tiny flash of body language that was inconsistent with pride, confidence, and self-esteem.  In its place, I saw what almost appeared to be invalidation and a touch of diminished self-value set itself in her countenance and little form.  Her shoulders dropped a bit, her head angle changed, she looked somewhat conflicted internally (like she wanted to say something but didn’t know what/how), and she just sort of – missed a beat.  This is the kid that never misses even 1/16 of a beat, but at that moment, she skipped out for almost an entire phrase.

So, I brought it to her Papa’s attention and told him what I observed.  I identified some of it immediately, and some of the concept developed subsequently, but we concluded that she was indeed affected “not positively” by what had been said.  And through conversation (in code, I might add), we realized that, from the best we can tell, our quantifying and qualifying of her actions, assigning an ambiguously positive adjective to them (based upon us assuming we have the power to assign such value), was what sat wrong with her that day.

She knows how attentive she is.  We don’t need to tell her. She is well aware of herself, and is not seeking empty praise. She is seeking recognition and acknowledgement; confirmation of her success and a shared sense of value and commonality. She also knows that we see her value of/for her baby and we approve.  We approve directly as well as inwardly. We both appreciate her actions because they seem an indicator of how she perceives our care of her.

Our assignment of a quality/value (such as “good”) that was not her own self assessment, triggered something inside of her that was not “good”.  She didn’t beam with pride and confidence, which is our goal.  She sunk and struggled with an internal “offset” instead. She did not benefit from us telling her something is “good”, “great”, “bad”, or any other ambiguous adjective of qualified value, assigned by us, as if we hold the power to bestow such an assignment.  She benefits from our approval and awareness of her efforts, the reasons for those efforts, and the values that she holds for and of herself. These are the comments that build her up, give her wings, and cause her to soar.   – And no, we’re not inflating her pride, we’re giving her the building blocks to construct her self-esteem and foundation.

All that said, I believe there is a connection with the concept identified above, and that of the one discussed below, that I initially mentioned at the beginning of this post.  The exchange above is positive, below is not so positive, but the unifying understanding is significantly similar.  I hope you’ll catch it. Above, I talked about the value of acknowledgement; of not assigning one’s personal value system to another, but instead giving the other person the respect and due recognition of their efforts and values, and acknowledging their own assigned levels of quality.  Approval and acknowledgement are not synonymous, but sometimes are very intricately linked, as in the above example. In what follows, you will see something that initially may look positive, but I submit that it is indeed actually demeaning, diminishing, and causes far reaching damage.  This sort of interplay can be overt and with malice, which usually results in a diminished recipient (who may then be invalidated further by the denial of the existence of such invalidation). However, such behavior can just as easily be inconspicuous and with an apparent intent to be constructive and beneficial, and is then often very confusing to the recipient and others within observational range.  In reality, taking into consideration the very real likelihood that the individual controlling the dynamics of the exchange suffers from his/her own insecurities and a need to raise themselves above others, at the cost of the others’ autonomy and self-value, it is an entirely unsuccessful approach at anything in the realm of positive and beneficial.

Loosely quoted:  Source is here

For example, a father conveys the subtle message of “I don’t think you’re capable” by taking on a (the child’s) task to do it right.

“Here, let me help you cut that out”, as he takes over the child’s school project.

When the child states, “I can do it myself”, the father keeps working on the project.

“I know you can. I’m just helping. Now doesn’t that look better?”

If the child should protest angrily, “You don’t think I can do it right!” the father might respond, Of course I do”, “I was just helping”, or “you are so ungrateful!”   Do you see the three levels of damage here?

In this situation, the father has escalated the situation to cause the child to become angry and then to criticize the child for being angry. (This is called a setup, in case you aren’t seeing what the problem is yet.  The father instigates the conflict and the child’s loss of self-value by devaluing and having no courage to trust in his child’s own abilities, and telling him as much.  Then the father sets the child in a position of defense or subjugation (child can pick), which he then berates the child for acting out his need to defend. And then the father adds insult to injury by telling the child he is further lacking in value and lacking in a common socially expected behavior patter.  The father hopes the child will surrender to the barrage, thereby giving the father his sadly desired “victory”.  Might as well add an “I told you so, stupid”.  The kid is low enough at this point that he would agree.)

This teaches the child that his emotions are unacceptable, as well as that her father doesn’t believe he/she is capable.

Let that last sentence sit for a moment.  Read it again.  Can you identify the ramifications of those two concepts in their entirety?  Grab a pencil and start making a list.  Seriously.  It’s multi-layered and extends far greater than what appears obvious at the surface.

Over time the child learns to not trust her own perceptions of reality.  That’s not all she learns… but let’s just think on what bad sort of stuff might result in her experiencing doubt on this level, when so vulnerable.

Another example of this sort of devaluing is a parent telling their children that they should respect or love them because they are their parents – nothing more.  Not a mutual respect, a respect learned by example, or even a natural respect allowed to grow and develop due to a distinct absence of hindrances.

“Love and respect is something that occurs due to the underlying relationship not because of a demand.”   And to that, I add, love and respect are due to many things far greater and in more depth than just an underlying relationship, but that’s a good place to start the understanding and exploration.

Love and respect are intrinsically interconnected with recognition, acknowledgement, and value.  Look up validation.

Working with Toddlers: Scene One

This morning my almost three year old found the “pupcake” pan.

Well, it was empty and therefore needing filling, and what better way to complete that task than to find a bunch of little things to sort into the empty cups!

We decided on rocks, as we have a large amount of them currently in what we are calling our backyard (that is all rock).

Bugs and I went out on a hunt for the most interesting, most lovely, most colorable rocks.  A few minutes later, she had a basket (actually it was Kevin’s nest – Kevin is her most favorite bird) full of “interesting treasure” to sort into the 18 or so cups awaiting her attention.

Two hours later, still interested in this activity, she decided to put all the rocks on the floor and declare the pan’s need to be empty, from there on, and for the rest of the day.  “It’s tired of the treasure rocks”, she explained.

Another 30 minutes or so, and about 1/2 dozen “oh!”, “ouch!”, and “yeeeawww’s!” later, I asked Bugs to clean up the rocks and told her that I’d help, and that my feet and knees just couldn’t take it anymore.  She was watching Oswald (the blue octopus) and sorta half way acknowledged me.

I muted the tv and asked her to tell me what she’d heard me communicate.  “Your knees and my treasure don’t have enough room for each other in this spot.”

A moment or two later, I knelt down next to where she was standing and started to pick up a few of the rocks. As I began, I said, “Bugs, are you going to help me pick up these rocks?”

“Yep!”, she chirped, while dropping to the floor to begin gathering.

We made it a game of “Bugs has amazing spy eyes that can see little, teeny rocks MUCH better than Mama;s eyes can”, and she found quite a few I missed, in fact.

Through this experience, she was able to become aware of the value of cleaning up after scattering the rocks everywhere.  She learned she has a great eye for noticing little things.  She also remembered that when she focuses on something, she succeeds at what she intends to accomplish.

She was happy to see the rocks had returned to their homes and felt no disappointment at the dismantling of her collection (is this encouraging a respect for the environment, at a very early and simple level?).

Win, Win, and Win. Can’t beat that.

The pan survived, and that’s a light house rock, by the way.

Ostracism in Action

What follows is an exercise in ostracism, for the purpose of contemplation on the part of anyone who chooses to read on.  My only request is that you read the entire post before you form your conclusion.

These are a series of comments/responses from the post found here.

I wrote the original post it in such a way to cause an impassioned response specifically from people who don’t understand or believe there is harm in using “timeouts” as punishment, or even contemplative time.  (Contemplative time is not harmful, and it does not look like a timeout.)  Seems as though my approach has been rather successful so far, based upon all the commentary today.  I’m glad you guys are talking!
It is a given that I believe anyone who strikes their child deserves a giant do the same thing to them, without a moment’s hesitation.  I believe the same is true for someone who uses ostracism to try to get a point across to their kid.  They deserve a unified ignore session by those they wish to be included by.

The exercise shown in this exchange goes to demonstrate the topic in question rather effectively. Please know that my harsh tone is not to ridicule or offend the woman to whom I am speaking, but to illustrate a point, by allowing someone else to do it for me.

– To the woman in the exchange, I regret that you have been negatively effected through this.  I hope we can, in the future, have intelligent and thoughtful, compassion conversation. However, if you choose otherwise, I will respect your decision.

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2010/09/15 at 7:57 pm – In reply to original post (link is shown above)

I can see a lot of your points…however, I don’t feel timeout is that bad. We use it with our 2 1/2 year old daughter only for more severe things…hitting, biting. It is very rare she is in time out. However, we don’t yell or scream we simply say, “Bummer, no ______ , time out) Then right after Time out we say, “Time out is over, I love you!” and we move on. She hasn’t seemed effected by it negatively at all and like I said, it is rare that she is in time out. I don’t see it as ignoring her…I see it has her taking a couple of minutes to think about her choices and why they were poor ones.

That’s a bummer that you disagree and don’t choose to review science, or the entire practice, as your daughter experiences it. Tell you what, I suggest you take a few moments, think about things a bit, and when I think you have had enough time to really understand within yourself something that you seem to not at the moment, I’ll continue. Until then, I won’t be responding, nor will I allow anyone else to.

Review science???? Why spanking is better than time out???? First, you need to respect other peoples’ views and discipline as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…I don’t question their discipline procedures. For kids who are disrespectful, mean, etc. I would question that. You can’t judge….my daughter is one of the happiest kids I know and I’m not the only one who thinks that….So her minimal time outs have not had a negative effect on her! Keep an open mind! I would never spank her…even though I was spanked…there are other, better ways to discipline!


2010/09/15 at 8:44 pm | In reply to Lauren Raymond.

That took you 14 minutes. You are not happy with me, are you? I should now say, I suppose, I have decided (by the fact that I approved your response) that you have had enough time to think about what I have imposed upon you to think about. And, I’ll add that I hope you have a better idea now of what you think, and how you’ll act next time. I respect you! And I see nothing wrong with making you take a couple of minutes to think about your choices and why, in my opinion, they are poor ones.

Pissed, aren’t you.

I dismissed you. I singled you out, disapproved, and decided that your thoughts, comments, and existence was such that I could assign and judge your value.

You still haven’t reviewed the science behind the brain’s response to time outs. But that’s ok, because, unlike your daughter, I cannot force you to do anything. I can isolate and reject you, and I can tell you what you do is wrong, but you’re an adult so, I have no power over you. Or do I? Again, you’re pissed at me.


2010/09/15 at 9:01 pm | In reply to Angie.

Yeah, I was pissed b/c you are judging me based on not knowing me and what my situation is and how I raise and discipline my daughter. I’m proud of my husband and I, we are on the same page with raising and disciplining our daughter and we are bringing up a very well-rounded, respectful, happy child! Now do you have power over me??? No. Am I pissed again? No… I realize what you are doing. I respect you and your thoughts and like hearing other people’s thoughts, ideas, research etc, even if I don’t agree with all of it!

_________


To conclude this post, with respect being shown to this
woman’s value and autonomy,
I will address a couple of her remarks,
in the voice of direct response.

__________________________________________________
“Review science???? Why spanking is better than time out????”
I wonder if you have not read the post in its entirety, or perhaps have not understood the content.
“First, you need to respect other peoples’ views and discipline as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…I don’t question their discipline procedures.”
In response, I respectfully will say that the only thing I have to do is accept that every legal resident of my country has the right to hold, promote, and change their views.  I do not have to tolerate, condone, or allow abuse.  Our society thinks mutilating a boy’s genitals is just fine.  A really good amount of our society thinks striking a child is just fine.  You don’t.  Neither do I.  But you think isolating and rejecting a child, in the name of a timeout (because it works and doesn’t seem to directly cause any damage) is also fine, as does the majority if our society.  I do not.  Our society as a whole follows itself around and around, afraid to detour or step out of line.  Why is this?  Refer to the definition of ostracism, and look at it from a reverse point of view.
There are a few of us out there that step out of the collectively determined appropriate line, almost continually.  Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not even something we’re aware we’ve done.  We’re not damaging others by doing so, except those that are in need of our following and blind acceptance and approval.  We damage their egos. They are the people who most often retaliate with nonsense and declaration of war.
But, contrary to your point of view of me, I do respect the fact that everyone has his/her own view.  And I hold that very quality with high regards.  In fact, I appreciate those that will speak openly about their views the most. However, my criteria in judging whether a parent is succeeding is different than yours.  And you feel as though I have attacked you simply because of how I chose to not just agree with your decision to voice your opinion.  Admittedly, I took it a few steps further and allowed the natural course of conflict to develop in effort to demonstrate the very interplay to which I am most assertively speaking against when it comes to how it is used with children.
“…as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…I don’t question their discipline procedures.”
My criteria is not based on the generally accepted methods our society uses to determine whether a human is a good person.  Nor, do I use the criteria that if the child doesn’t offend me by their behavior, and appears to be generally respectful and properly functioning, given what I happen to get to observe in a public or even semi-private setting, that the parent is not abusing the child.  My criteria is that the child is raised in an environment that is not harming, not destructive, and does not produce a child who is<em> unwhole </em>or damaged in even the slightest way.  I do not judge a parent’s effectiveness or assign a degree of “good” based upon the child. I judge the parent based upon the actions and decisions of the parent.

Given: Society will kill my ideal – a wholly, undamaged child who grows to a complete and unharmed adult.  But in my home, my child will never experience the insecurity, uncertainty, or lack of my utmost respect for their existence.
Even when I am angry, I will never isolate or reject my child so she can “think about what she’s done wrong”.  I will work with her to understand her motives, and work with her (that means use words and conversation, body language and compassion) so that she understands my responses.  If, however, she goes off on her own, to spend time alone by her own choice,  I will not prevent it – which goes back to respecting her autonomy and value.
“First, you need to respect other peoples’ views and discipline as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…  I don’t question their discipline procedures. For kids who are disrespectful, mean, etc. I would question that.”
Again, I don’t judge anything based upon the child. I don’t impose myself or my beliefs either. However, if asked, I will respond with the information and education I have. And if given a chance to demonstrate, I welcome people watch that education in action with my own child.
“You can’t judge….my daughter is one of the happiest kids I know and I’m not the only one who thinks that….”
Actually, I can judge; I have a fairly well developed sense of discernment. What I think you want to tell me here is that you are angry and offended and feel as though I have passed judgment upon you.  In other words, by my actions, you feel like I have asserted that I am somehow superior to you.  I would be just as pissed if someone tried to do that to me.  But what might not be so apparent is that instead of asserting a superiority, I just got in your face, as an equally intelligent and capable person.
Instead of being wishywashy, going with the accepted norm,  and allowing you to speak and not responding in turn,  I responded in a manner that is very similar to what our society forces upon its children routinely, in the name of good parenting and good child rearing.  Our society even goes so far to promote this method as the most humane, most considerate, and most concerned with the welfare of the child.
If you think about it, that exact same mantra was propagated across the planet, by well meaning, upright peoples with excellent values, only the context was to spank, to segregate, and to subjugate the female gender – just in the last few generations.  The masses bought the blah then, and they buy it now.  But science quietly presses on, discovering and sharing with those who wish to educate and inform themselves.   – Again I refer to Mr. Roddenberry… may he rest in peace.  😉

“Yeah, I was pissed b/c you are judging me based on not knowing me and what my situation is and how I raise and discipline my daughter. I’m proud of my husband and I, we are on the same page with raising and disciplining our daughter and we are bringing up a very well-rounded, respectful, happy child! Now do you have power over me??? No. Am I pissed again? No… I realize what you are doing. I respect you and your thoughts and like hearing other people’s thoughts, ideas, research etc, even if I don’t agree with all of it!”

I am not actually judging you.  I have questioned you.

I have spoken against something you feel is just fine and you have taken it personally.  This is a reasonable response.  But I wonder if you might be interested in substantiating your chosen belief and actions, as not being harmful, in response to my assertion that it is, in fact harmful and damaging.

I am happy that you are satisfied with your choices, that your husband and you concur (which makes it a lot easier, definitely), and that you believe your daughter is being properly cared for.  However, I still do not approve of, nor condone the use of ostracism or any form of manipulation or abuse.  That’s the funny thing about abuse… we all know it causes damage, but we use it in so many different ways that often it is hard to pinpoint or even recognize, until much, much later.

No, I do not know you or your daughter, but I don’t need to either.  What I do know is that you use this method, you think it’s just fine, you are willing to defend it in theory (hopefully you’ll substantiate, as mentioned), and that you don’t like it when I turn the method around and you are the target.

Your blog describes an episode of your daughter hitting you.  That same post has your description of your assigned consequence, which was one that she was given a choice to allow to occur.  She continued hitting you, thereby choosing to test whether you would follow through (the consequence was your refusal to read her a story before bed, as is the routine).  Then, after enforcing your threat, you left her alone to cry. Your post indicates her father intervened by showing her security, love, and affection.  She accepted his comforting, accepted the consequence of her action, and everyone got some sleep.
S O U R C E

  • My question is, why you allowed her to cry alone, after executing her consequence.
  • My other question concerns why she was hitting you in the first place.

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If there is anything to understand about me, it is that I do not function on the approval of a collective.  I also don’t take anything for fact just because multiple people will “agree” it must be fact.  Proof is one thing, opinion is quite another.
That said, I choose my beliefs, actions, and values based upon fact, knowledge, and experience.
I invite your solid responses.  And if any of you are interested in discovering what can be an option for raising a child without damaging them, by any form of abuse, I encourage you to begin to follow the threads related to the alternative ideas I will start presenting, as I compose them with some resemblance of logic and coherence.

My best to all of you.

Instead of “Timeouts”, Try a “Hold Everything”

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Never punitive.  Never diminutive.


Purpose: Re-establish Calm, Cooperation, Harmony

For everyone.

Please go read this and this (you’ll see how they align)

In our house, we do not spank, nor do we incorporate isolation, refusal, ignoring, or “timeouts”.

Our daughter doesn’t just do whatever she wants either; when her preferences are damaging, interfering, or otherwise not in her best interest, we intercept.

If behaviors, attitudes, or actions become a concern, the first thing we use is assessment of why (what is the cause) they became a concern.  Then we employ understanding, followed by patience and compassion.  If necessary, we use a Hold Everything (this means the grownups too), and then we activate our resolution and/or solution superpowers.

 

I want to introduce you to what our house calls PAWS.

  • (Pause – to recreate harmony and re-establish calm and cooperation.  Pause to remember to respect, to honor, to approve, to admire… Pause to stop anger response, frustration, impatience, aggravation. Pause to remember the most important thing in whatever has caused the need to pause in the first place – the life on center stage – child, adult, dog, turtle.)

____________________________________________________________

Perspective (a spontaneous shift in viewing portal, not only in complexity and understanding, but in physical height and life experience)

Attention (purposed focus)

Wait (observe. reflect. observe)

Solve (resolve and grow)

Think on that for a few.

Natural Consequence, Example One

Unedited – my kiddo woke up before I could… I will later tonight if I can.

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Sometimes a natural consequence is one that occurs beyond our control, due to physics.

Sometimes, in my opinion, a natural consequence is one that I effect for my child, but that is wholly associated with the cause of the resulting effect.

In a previous post, I discussed a child’s actions that were concerning his father -> Read Here
These two particular incidents, and my suggestion of a parental response, fit into the Parent Derived Natural Consequence category.

Here’s an example of physics at play:  Joseph, if you carelessly put the dishes away, you may discover what will happen.  Joseph continues to haphazardly put the dishes away and he drops a plate.  Lucky for him, the floor is only wood instead of tile, but the unfortunate thing is that on its way to the floor (physics-gravity), it somehow twists just enough that instead of landing in a manner that just ends in a thud, it triggers a release of energy known as a bang, that results in the splitting in two (or four) of the material that once was a single piece, otherwise referred to as a plate.

Sucks to be Joseph… jeez, he probably could have thrown the plate on the grown and it would have landed just fine, but nooooo, it accidentally “mishandled” it just so that instead, there is now a huge mess and no longer useful plate to put away.

ENTER MOM

Scenario one:  Mom is irritated, starts telling Joseph that if he’d listened to her in the first place, which he already knows, that this wouldn’t have happened.  So, now he feels dumb for letting it happen, knows he’s going to be further demeaned by some sort of punishment for not being more careful in the first place, and he’s gained his mother’s disapproval yet again.

Some children will cry because they are grieved at both the loss of the approval, but also the failure they perceive is theirs.

Some children will laugh and defy as a response to the disapproval and impressed failure to “do as told” to “prevent problems”.

Some children will be compelled to make reparations.  This is guilt.  The concern here is how far the parent decides to let the guilt be used – in other words, they see a way to manipulate, er… that’s more politically correctly termed “teach a lesson”.

Scenario two: Mom hears the crash.  Waits.  Child either begins to clean up or starts calling for mom.  This depends on how the same situation has been handled before, and on the child’s personality.

Mom enters the kitchen a moment or two after the crash (a younger child will need you sooner to prevent injury).  But she comes quietly, not in judgement or disapproval, but understanding.  She knows what the law of gravity is. She knows that we, as a human race on planet earth, are stuck with this reality.

If child is already attempting to clean up, mom must ascertain the safety of this.  If it’s not safe, mom must intervene.  If child is capable of cleaning up the mess, mom just allows it and makes a note to come after the child is finished and make sure no shards of glass are left anywhere.  – This, by the way, is either the child who is terrified of the parent’s response, or, hopefully, the child who is wholly valued and respected, and is therefore confident enough to reason that he wasn’t quite attentive enough, which resulted in gravity winning, and well, now there is a mess and so to prevent anyone from getting hurt, it needs to be tended to.  No guilt, though there might be some grief, especially if the broken item was of special meaning to someone and the child is aware of it.  No disapproval imposed… by outside forces.  And hopefully, the child is whole and confident, so while they may tell themselves to be more careful next time, they don’t take a hit to their “value”, nor do they hit it themselves.  No humiliation.  No failure.  Just physics.

Now, if the child is, for whatever reason, not attempting to clean up the mess himself, the mother can initiate the process as follows:

“Hum… Looks like we better get to work cleaning this up before someone gets hurt.  I will pick up the pieces if you will go get the broom.”  The glass might hurt the child, so the parent is preventing injury, but the child is still actively involved in assisting.

Child returns with broom, mom encourages “Joseph” to start sweeping in an area that is safe, as she continues to work on removing potential harm.  Child is contributing, and building his confidence in his ability to resolve the concern he allowed gravity to cause.

Once everything is cleaned up – Mom tells child, “Great! Looks like it’s all clean.”  AND THEN LEAVES the area and says nothing more about the incident. Period. Like as in doesn’t ever mention, unless the child brings it up in the future.  If there are still more dishes to be put away, the mother also doesn’t mention this to the child.  She waits.. gives the child the credit that he is intelligent enough to see that there are more dishes to finish.   – Now let’s say he goes ahead on his own and finishes the task.  Great.  Nothing more is said, except if the mother knows he needs reinforcement.  If so, she still waits and unless he initiates, the most she says is something like, “Thanks for taking care of the dishes.  I appreciate you.”

However, if the child is shaken, or perhaps not entirely driven to be responsible without encouragement (like how I said that??), then the mother is put into the position of refocusing.  Again, she waits.  She observes.  Wait = Observe.

Child abandons task and goes to play.  Mother notices.  An hour later, mother reminds child, “Joseph, I noticed there are still dishes in the dishwasher waiting for your attention.”

Joseph’s reply will range all across the board.  Mother simply affirms his response with, “ok”.

That looks like this –

Joseph:  “I know, but I don’t want to do them anymore.”
Mother: “Ok.” – Now wait, don’t walk away, just stay silent.  Give Joseph a chance to explain himself.  Pretend you are having this conversation with another adult.  If he doesn’t begin explaining, prod, a little, but with respect. “Joseph, you don’t want to do any more?”  Keep the look on your face neutral but inquisitive. Don’t lace your words with a tone and motive.  He knows.

Joseph: “Yeah, I don’t want to.”
Mother: “Can you help me understand why you don’t want to?”
Joseph: “I’m worried I will drop more.”  (This is what a confident child will say.  A child who knows he is respected and treated as a valuable member of the family.  A child who doesn’t know he holds his mother’s respect will be defiant and simply state that he has better stuff to do, or insist it’s just a preference.)

If the child is concerned over a repeat failure, the mother can offer her approval and encouragement by stating that if it happens again, we’ll just clean it up again.  If appropriate and beneficial for the CHILD, the mother might also offer a little advice in the form of a trick… NEVER stating that if the child were just “more careful” (or whatever other version of that concept) that it won’t happen again.  Why never state this?  Because no matter how careful you, as an adult, are, eventually gravity will get the better of even you!  Don’t pretend it won’t, and don’t expect your kid to agree to be bound by that double standard either.

Advice in the form of a trick:  “You know Joseph, when I put the dishes away, I’m worried I might drop them too.  So, I give each one a name as I pick them up.  Then, I keep my eye on it from the moment my finger first touches the plate until it’s safely where it belongs.  Then, when I’m all done, I try to remember the names so that next time I see that same plate, I won’t have to wonder what I named it.”

Result

Child is upheld, child is respected, child is approved of
Dishes get done, even if it takes the rest of the day
Child has a new game, and it keeps him focused on his task, which hopefully decreases the chance of gravity winning

Now, there is only one additional note to make here.  In the event that you have a kiddo that hasn’t had the luxury of the high level of your respect and admiration, and doesn’t thrive in his autonomy and self worth…. OR you have a kiddo that is just not into the task for his own purposes (that being it’s boring, he has other stuff that he enjoys more, etc), you’re going to need to use a bit of parental control to make sure the task is completed and the child respects the value of his contribution.

Here’s my suggestion… and it requires patience, tolerance, foresight, and effort on the part of the parent.
Let’s say the child just outright opposes and does not finish the task of emptying the dishwasher.
Ok, this isn’t a problem.  Yes, it annoys you (mom/dad) because it means you will have to do it and the child won’t gain the good from completing it.  But that’s not all that’s going on…

Mother:  “Joseph, I noticed there are some dishes still waiting for you in the dishwasher.”
Joseph: “I don’t want to do anymore.”  – Go through the reasoning and get to just that – kid doesn’t want to comply.
Mother: “Ok Joseph, I’ll take care of them now then.”  Say nothing more, walk away and go do the dishes right then.  It will take you 2 minutes.  Just do it.  Be quiet.  Wait. Observe.  Don’t pass judgement and don’t resent or become annoyed at your kid.

If Joseph shows up to finish before you complete the task, simply thank him for his willingness to take care of the task (don’t go into helping you out, chipping in, whatever else, just focus on the task, as if it is itself worth valuing), walk away and let him.

If Joseph shows up too late and you’ve already finished, simply tell him as much.  “Joseph, I have completed it.”  Say nothing more.  He gets the point.  Trust me.  He’s not stupid.  You don’t need to add insult. He needs your respect.  He gets the point.  (Keep reading – don’t tell me that well yeah, he gets the point, that being that if he doesn’t want to do something he can just refuse and mom will do it for him.)

If Joseph doesn’t show at all, fine.  Complete the task yourself.  Say nothing to him.  Don’t resent, don’t reject, and don’t allow him to feel your disapproval at any point.

Make plans for that night’s dinner to be something Joseph really, really likes.  Include courses in the meal that go together, but omit one of them.  For instance, make macaroni and cheese with ham and apples on the side.  Omit the cheese (use butter so it’s palatable, but don’t make it as “good” as normal).

DINNER TIME

Everyone sits down, your partner knows what’s going on, but other children do not.  Everyone, including Joseph begins eating.  Someone states that the macaroni tastes different, like it doesn’t have enough cheese.

Mother:  “Well, it doesn’t actually have enough cheese because I didn’t have enough time left after taking care of emptying the dishwasher today to give to cutting up enough cheese for our dinner tonight.”  Older kid, “Oh come on, it only takes three minutes to empty the dishwasher!”  Mother, “Well, yes I know, and Joseph started it and so today it only took me two minutes.  It also only takes two minutes to cut up the appropriate amount of cheese, but I allocated those two minutes to the dishwasher instead.”  (NOT I had to allocate, I ‘did’ – chose to – simple fact.. NO DIGS at the kid that caused all this – don’t point fingers, ever. And don’t omit so that the opportunity for someone else to opens up. No passive retaliation here.)

Say nothing more about it.  If the kids complain about the taste, agree with them.  Don’t apologize, don’t lay blame, just agree.

Takes a lot of work… I know. But by doing that work, you’ll grow a whole, confident, capable, and responsible child into an adult that will hopefully continue the work in is own life.

 

Either the consequences of the act will be enough, or they won’t be- and then a parent’s job becomes to modify the environment or provide supervision until the fascination with the forbidden thing ends.

You Get Obedience, What Does Your Kid Get?

Every Smack is a Humiliation – A Manifesto

by Alice Miller

Many researchers have already proved that corporal punishment on children may indeed produce obedience in the short term but will have serious negative consequences on their character and behavior. Only if there was at least one single person who loved and understood the child, the disastrous development toward later crimes and illnesses could be prevented. During their whole childhood, dictators like Hitler, Stalin or Mao never came across such a helping witness. They learned very early to glorify cruelty and hypocrisy and to justify them while committing crimes on millions of people. Millions of others, because also exposed to physical maltreatment in childhood, helped them to do so without the slightest remorse.

Children should not be the scapegoats of adults’ painful experiences. The claim that mild punishments (slaps or smacks) have no detrimental effects is still widespread because we got this message very early from our parents who had taken it over from their own parents. This conviction helped the child to minimize his suffering and to endure it. Unfortunately, the main damage it causes is precisely our numbness as well as the lack of sensitivity for our children’s pain. The result of the broad dissemination of this damage is that each successive generation is subjected to the tragic effects of seemingly harmless “correction”. Many parents still think: What didn’t hurt me can’t hurt my child. They don’t realize that their conclusion is wrong because they never challenged their assumption.

When in Sweden legislation laws prohibiting corporal punishment were launched in 1978, 70% of the citizens asked for their opinion were against it. In 1997, the figure had dropped to 10%. These statistics show that the mentality of the Swedish population has radically changed in the course of a mere 20 years. A destructive tradition of millennia has been done away with thanks to this legislation.

It is imperative to launch legislation prohibiting corporal punishment all over the world. It does not set out to incriminate anyone but is designed to have a protective and informative function for parents. Sanctions could simply take the form of the obligation for parents to internalize information on the consequences of corporal punishment available today. Information on the “well-meant smack” should therefore be broadcasted to all, since unconscious education to violence takes its roots very early and inflicts disastrous imprints. The vital interests of society as a whole are at stake.


(German translation)
(French translation)

See also:
“Punishment Does Not Work”


Copyright © Alice Miller, 1998

Humiliation – Far Reaching Effects on Children, Adults, Society

Humiliation

– Sarah Rosenberg, July 2003

Simple Definition
A leading researcher on humiliation, Dr. Evelin Lindner, defines humiliation as “the enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that damages or strips away their pride, honor or dignity.”[2] Further, humiliation means to be placed, against ones will, in a situation where one is made to feel inferior. “One of the defining characteristics of humiliation as a process is that the victim is forced into passivity, acted upon, made helpless.”[3] Johan Galtung, a leading practitioner, agrees with Lindner that the infliction of humiliation is a profoundly violent psychological act that leaves the victim with a deep wound to the psyche.[4]
Humiliation and Social Order
Historically, maintaining hierarchical societies meant that elites scrupulously guarded their honor against attempts to soil or humiliate it, while some form of more or less institutionalized humiliation was part of the reality for the lower echelons of a community. As long as such a reality is accepted as the norm, and it is believed that this structure helps to achieve and maintain common societal goals, the system is considered acceptable. Though some people in lower ranks may wish to be on a higher level, they do not view the system itself as flawed. By contrast, in societies such as Somalia, with its non-hierarchical egalitarian clan structures, Lindner’s research shows that attempts to humiliate people are fervently resented, at least by the males of the major clan families. The more egalitarian a society, be it pre-hierarchical or post hierarchical, Lindner asserts, the less use there is for institutionalized humiliation, particularly as a way to maintain order, and the less acceptable it is.
Humiliation and Human Rights
Lindner’s research on humiliation and the effect of humiliation on groups is related to her segmentation of human history into three phases of development and her categorization of the ideal types of human societies that can be found in these stages. Most relevant here is the connection between humiliation, conflict, and the human rights revolution.[5] When subordinate groups become aware of human rights values and adopt them into their value system, they reframe their formerly accepted subordination as humiliating circumstances that can no longer be deemed to be acceptable. In other words, when people redefine their situation and interpret formerly “normal” subjugation as structural violence, they begin to clash with the system. This clash can translate into violence. This can occur gradually, or a sudden change in power can lead to immediate devastating violence.
Why Paying Attention to Humiliation is Important
It is widely recognized that one of the main reasons for Hitler’s rise to power and the onset of World War II was the humiliation of the German people in the aftermath of World War I. Though perhaps less obvious, humiliation seems to be part of much suffering world-wide, and makes millions of peoples’ lives despondent. If violence between and within groups and nations is to be reduced, understanding the role of humiliation as a cause is critically important.
Humiliation, Trauma, and Victimhood
What is the difference between humiliation, trauma, and victimhood? The answer is both simple and complex. One may be traumatized without being humiliated. For example, one’s home may be destroyed by an earthquake, in which the victim may be devastated and traumatized but not humiliated. This differs from the situation in which soldiers kick someone out of their home in the middle of the night and bulldoze it or set the home on fire. This latter case exemplifies the use of humiliation as a weapon by some people upon other people. More still, one may even be a victim of violence without feeling humiliated. The difference between feeling humiliated or not in these cases may depend on the subjective framing of the situation by each person involved when violence is perceived as accidental and non-intentional, similar to natural disaster, it may not be felt as humiliation. Importantly, the more a victim is aware of human rights values, the more likely they are to feel humiliated. When one is acted upon in a way that undermines one’s sense of equal dignity, as it is enshrined in human rights, the psychological damage of humiliation is being inflicted. It is this damage that is particularly hard to recover and heal from. Lindner believes that humiliation is the necessary concept for defining victimhood as “victimhood” and as such has to be considered as the key ingredient that makes conflict comprehensible and thus preventable and manageable. According to Lindner, “victimhood at the hands of fellow human beings must entail the notion of humiliation, otherwise it would not be seen as victimhood but as pro-social event or natural disaster.”[6]
Responses to Humiliation — Hitler vs. Mandela
It is still somewhat of a mystery why responses to humiliation can differ so much. Lindner cites Hitler and Mandela as examples. Hitler chose to respond with war and atrocious acts of violence as a means of restoring national honor. His goal was to impose a new hierarchical world system with Germany on top. Mandela, on the other hand, opted for the enlightened path of peace and human rights for all of his countrymen. Mandela chose a healing track using dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation while still dealing with issues of justice as well. More research needs to be done to help explain why some choose a violent response to deal with feelings of humiliation and others choose peaceful struggle. But it is important to keep in mind that the “humiliation” factor in any conflict may well be the most difficult obstacle to overcome, and strong leaders are needed to prevent escalation of conflict through violence and bloodshed.
There are three possible outcomes to the effects of humiliation:
  • Acquiescence, or depression and apathy, nothing changes.
  • Antagonism, anger, rage, and the violent pursuit of change, often hierarchy is not abolished but merely reversed.
  • Antagonism, anger, rage, and the non-violent pursuit of change, including forgiveness and reconciliation, and the dismantling of hierarchy towards a human rights based system of equal dignity for every citizen.
Rage at the situation may overflow and a violent conflict may erupt as people try to change a system of humiliation. Human rights ideals indicate that humiliation and victimization of other have to eliminated, not simply the social hierarchy reversed. Mandela strove to abolish humiliation altogether in his society through wise social change, while Hitler used it as a core component of his campaign. Unfortunately, it seems easier to strike back and far more people in the world may feel the urge to resort to violence (though maybe not to the extent Hitler did) than there are those who would endure twenty seven years in prison, forgive their captors, and work with them to forge a united future. Better to avoid humiliation in the first place, lest we create more Hitlers, or, short of that thousands of suicide bombers.
[1] This essay is based on the work of Evelin Lindler, who sent us many of her papers, and corresponded via e-mail with me about the draft of this essay.  Our thanks to Evelin for helping with this topic.
[2] Lindner, Evelin G. Humiliation or Dignity: Regional Conflicts in the Global Village. Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial work and Counseling in areas of Armed conflict, forthcoming (2002), p.2.
[3] Lindner, Evelin G. Humiliation or Dignity: Regional Conflicts in the Global Village. Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial work and Counseling in areas of Armed conflict, forthcoming (2002).
[4] Paraphrasing of quotes taken from Johan Galtung as recorded in Lindner, E G Humiliation – Trauma that has Been Overlooked. Traumatology, Vol. 7, (March 2001).
[5] For more on Pride, Honor, and Dignity societies, see Lindner, E “What every Negotiator Should Know: Understanding Humiliation,” (2000), http://www.globalsolidarity.org/articles/what.pdf Lindner says that knowledge of human rights intensifies feelings of humiliation and that the humiliation factor is the hard core of any conflict. Another characteristic of humiliation is that when victims admire their humiliators they react more intensely when power changes hands. (Psychology of H.)
[6] Lindner. E-mail with the author, (2003).

Rosenberg, Sarah. “Humiliation [1].” Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/Humiliation/>.
http://www.fsu.edu/~trauma/v7/Humiliation.pdf
http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/ShapiroNovNYConference.pdf
http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/evelin/Negotiator.pdf