Please take a moment to review this blog and associated sites. Once again, it seems I am not alone in my quest to give people an alternative to this group’s tormenting methods of child raising.
I’m not really sure what other response is expected from Mr. Pearl, honestly. Yes, he is arrogant, but read one paragraph of one single article he’s written and you’ll know that. Yes, he believes he is also righteous and correct, all the time. What other persona could he project? Humility and sincerity are incongruous with the core of his teachings, or any extended tentacle. It’s not like he’s suggesting ideas on child raising… He states –
A proper spanking leaves children without breath to complain. If he should tell you that the spanking makes him madder, spank him again. If he is still mad…. He desperately needs an unswayable authority, a cold rock of justice. Keep in mind that if you are angry you are wasting your time trying to spank his anger away.I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey. On the fourth day I would treat him with respect and he would respond in kind. On the fifth day the fear would go away and he would relax because he would have judged that as long as he responds correctly there is nothing to fear. On the sixth day he would like himself better and enjoy his new relationship to authority. On the seventh day I would fellowship with him in some activity that he enjoyed. On the eight day he would love me and would make a commitment to always please me because he valued my approval and fellowship. On the ninth day someone would comment that I had the most cheerful and obedient boy that they had ever seen. On the tenth day we would be the best of buddies.
In his book, Michael Pearl suggests tempting a child with a bite of their favorite food ~ placing a morsel within the child’s reach ~ and when said child instinctively reaches out for the food ~ Switch their hand once and simultaneously say, ‘No.’Repeat as many times as necessary until the child is trained not to automatically grab for whatever he or she wants ~ but rather, to automatically look to the parent for permission before reaching out to take the desired food.
Even in my Quiverfull-induced stupor ~ I recognized the cruelty of such parenting advice ~ to deliberately tempt your child and then smack them when they take the bait?!! I remember thinking, didn’t Jesus teach us to pray “lead us not into temptation”? If it’s not okay for our Heavenly Father to lead us into temptation ~ how can it be right for earthly parents to do this to their children? I did not bother to finish reading the book.
Thankfully, I joined the local Le Leche League group for breastfeeding support and was introduced to Dr. William Sear’s “attachment” approach to parenting which jived with my natural inclination for gentle mothering. Admittedly, I still did occasionally spank my children ~ but thankfully, I stopped short of purchasing the quarter-inch plumbing supply line in my quest to have happily obedient children.
And now, the opposing example:A bit of background.. The child in the story that follows from the NGJ site is two years old during this event.
This story describes abuse, and is horrid, so please be warned.
Blog Author’s Note: A child of this age cannot grasp fully what is happening during most of his day, especially when he’s tired, hungry, in need of comfort or security, in a strange or uncomfortable place, or otherwise simply needs the reassurance and love of those he trusts. This is the worst time a parent can betray the trust of the child by terrorizing him instead of attending to his needs. The responses and results this child produces are not due to what Mr. Pearl believes; this child is not a brat, or a manipulating little rebel, but a child with some need that he’s trying to communicate. Due to the terror this method (NGJ) produces, and the child’s loss of trust of the most precious kind (that of his parents), he cannot do anything but try to self-console and SURVIVE this trauma and horrible event, with his undeveloped brain that cannot properly comprehend any of it.
Late one night we were riding back from a seminar when the little fellow noticed that he was on the other end of the seat from his mother—with other siblings between them. He was riding in a restraining seat and whined to sit in his mother’s lap. The father SUGGESTED that it would be best if he stayed strapped into his restraining seat. The mother began to sympathetically explain why she couldn’t hold him. Based on past experiences, he knew that this was just the opening round. Their rejection of his proposal was only tentative. He was just testing the waters to see if they would yield. If by continual insistence he should demonstrate how very important this issue was to him, they would eventually come around to seeing it his way. As he pleaded further, asking for water, I could see that the mother was feeling guilty for not being close to “HER BABY”. Didn’t his tears demonstrate how important this was to his emotional well-being? After six or eight rounds, it finally reached the brokenhearted crying stage.
Mother was reaching for her baby when the father turned to me and asked, “What should I do?” Again I explained the principle: by allowing the child to dictate terms through his whining and crying, you are confirming his habit of whining and consenting to his technique of control. So I told the daddy to tell the boy that he would not be allowed to sit in his mother’s lap, and that he was to stop crying. Of course, according to former protocol, he intensified his crying to express the sincerity of his desires. The mother was ready to come up with a compromise. “He was hungry. He was sleepy. He was cold.” Actually, he was a brat, molded and confirmed by parental responses. I told the father to stop the car and without recourse give him three to five licks with a switch. After doing so the child only screamed a louder protest. This is not the time to give in. After two or three minutes driving down the road listening to his background wails, I told the father to COMMAND the child to stop crying. He only cried more loudly. At my instruction, without further rebuke, the father again stopped the car, got out, and spanked the child. Still screaming (the child, not the rest of us), we continued for two minutes until the father again commanded the child to be quiet. Again, no response, so he again stopped the car and spanked the child. This was repeated for about twenty miles down a lonesome highway at 11:00 on a winter night.
When the situation began to look like a stalemate, the mother suggested that the little fellow didn’t understand. I told the father to command the boy to stop crying immediately or he would again be spanked. The boy ignored him until Father took his foot off the gas, preparatory to stopping. In the midst of his crying, he understood the issues well enough to understand that the slowing of the car was a response to his crying. The family was relieved to have him stop and the father started to resume his drive. I said “No; you told him he was to stop crying immediately or you would spank him; he waited until you began stopping. He has not obeyed; he is just beginning to show confidence in your resolve. Spank him again and tell him that you will continue to stop and continue to spank until you get instant compliance.” He did. The boy was smart. He may not have feared Mama. His respect for Daddy was growing, but that big hairy fellow in the front seat seemed to be more stubborn than he was, and with no guilt at all. This time, after the spanking, when Daddy gave his command, the boy dried it up like a paper towel. The parents had won, and the boy was the beneficiary.
Now you may wonder why I did not tell the father to tell the boy that he was going to spank him until he stopped crying, and not resume driving until he had stopped. Never put yourself in the place where you may lose the contest. What if the boy didn’t stop? Would you spank him forever, or would you stop when it bordered on abuse, in which case the child would win? Your word would fall to the ground; you gave in before he did. You would have actually hardened his resolve to rebel. Furthermore, when a child is being spanked and shortly thereafter, he may be too emotionally wrought to make responsible decisions. Our concern is not just to silence the child, but to gain voluntary submission of his will through respect for our command.
Blog Author’s Note: Silencing a two year old… the best way to do this is to assess what they need, determine their cause, and act accordingly. Not terrorize and hurt them. They are not out to make your life horrid, even if it feels like it sometimes. They are tiny people without the skill or ability to cope and manage in an adult world. Why does this group seem to think that we must begin in infancy to destroy our children, so that they will not become embarrassments and inconveniences.
Father tells the boy to stop crying or he will stop the vehicle and spank. Father stops, spanks; the child cries, and the father resumes the drive. He waits three to five minutes, ignores the crying and continues to talk as if all is well. Five minutes later, the father again commands the child to stop crying. By this time there is no lingering pain and he has had time to quiet his emotions and reflect on the parental mandate: “Stop crying or get a spanking.”
Again the father commands the child to stop crying or he will receive a spanking. The child continues crying only because he assumes that the status quo continues. That is, he is not at all convinced that the father means what he says. Judging from past experiences, he is sure that he will win this contest eventually. By breaking it up into several sessions, the father is reprogramming the child—Father commands with a threat; child disobeys; Father carries out threat; child loses and suffers the consequences; it is an unpleasant experience; repeat all of above five to ten times. The child concludes: There is a new order; Father is consistent; he always means what he says; I cannot win; there is no alternative to instant obedience. Get smart, be a survivor, just say no to self-will.
Blog Author’s Note: The value of breaking the will and spirit of our children. Please refer to this entry, which contains a story of a woman who writes of her own experiences.
I, for one, do not believe my child should have to become a survivor – that’s my job. I will not only keep her alive and surviving in every way I possibly can, but I will endeavor to allow her to thrive in every way I can. In fact, I can’t even fathom having this thought of my own child. BUT if the child were an abuse victim, an orphan on the streets, or in a situation of extreme poverty, I would probably have the thought that this was an extremely strong child, a “survivor”, with an amazing self-will. And if in my power, I would do anything to change this little person’s circumstances, love them dearly, and teach them to love.
I will seek additional material related to the all encompassing harm and destruction that occurs when a parent or care-giver, or abuser, is bent on, and accomplishes breaking a child. I will go one step further, step out of my character, and even find Biblical references that instruct in an opposing manner – to never destroy a child’s spirit.
The beauty of this kind of contest is that when the parents conquer, it applies across the board. The child is not just yielding to the circumstances; he is yielding to his parents. The rebel in him is dying. This submission will translate into every aspect of their relationship.
The child has learned that the parents have more resolve than he does. They are not liars. When they say stop or else, they mean it. There is no way to bend the parents; their word is final.
….There are those of you who will think that the twenty miles of spanking was cruel. Remember, this was not a daily event; it was a war to end all wars. The spankings were not wild, violent affairs. They were not greatly painful—to the child, that is. They were done in quiet calm and dignity. It is not the severity of the spanking but the certainty of it that gives it persuasive power. Our object in spanking is not to cause the child to so fear the pain that he obeys. It is to gain the child’s attention and give him respect for the parent’s word. I know that there are abusive, angry parents out there who, through their own inconsistency, find themselves in a position where they excessively spank every day. Spanking should just be the early part of a training program. It is our consistency that trains. The rod just gives credibility to our word. If your word is not credible, no amount of the rod will ever be effective. You will become abusive. If you feel abusive, you probably are. Get counsel and advice from a close friend who has a Biblical perspective on child training.
First, if you feel you are bordering on something that feels abusive with your child, do not seek the counsel of a close friend because this is not going to result in an objective review and perspective of your situation. Close friends allow sex to continue between the parent-figure and child, they allow mothers to terrorize their children by pulling their hair and flinging them around in the name of obedience; they permit abuse to continue. Close friends won’t likely tell you they disagree, at least not sternly. Chances are, they’re close friends because of your commonalities, and this does not lend itself to any sort of objective review.
The certainty of the spanking is not what causes the child’s behavior to become modified, but instead it is the certainty of the terror and pain they know they will experience at the hands of those they are meant to trust openly and deeply, on every level that is needed by the human mind. To treat a child in this manner is to betray them at their core.
I do not believe in allowing a child to rule my life or run my day in its entirety (well, some days I am perfectly fine with it actually), though the priority I place with my child and her development and well being often dictates that my day be centered around her.
I believe in a parent’s instinct, and that the child is the priority. My marriage is not suffering because of this priority, nor is the rest of my life or work because all are balanced accordingly, but while my child is young and totally dependent upon me for her survival and development, she will remain my utmost priority.
She cries because she needs something. Sometimes, at 28 months, she cries when she hasn’t gotten her way, and her cries are how she expresses the feelings associated with her not getting what she wanted, just as she wanted it. These cries are not rebellious or wrong. They are her expressing her frustrations, her disappointment, and all the other emotions that she can’t understand yet, but that are there and need an outlet so that she can move on to the next thing her tiny little focus find to dwell on.
If she is prevented from expressing and experiencing her emotions, and allowing them to run their course, at this young age, she begins to turn inward and without any mechanism within her mind to accomplish this inward reflection (that adults and older children have), she experiences an inner turmoil at the deepest part of her.
As she grows, and her mind matures from year to year, with each episode of experiencing emotional response, her mind begins to understand and learns to examine and utilize these emotional responses. In time, instead of outbursts that include crying and fits/tantrums, she is capable of processing these emotions in a more subtle, internal manner. This is not the unhealthy sort of internalizing that is a result of forced coping and survival. This is the sort of internal thought and emotional process that is found in an emotionally healthy, confident and socially functioning adult. This process begins of growth begins at birth (or prior) and completes itself somewhere along the way to adulthood. The timeline for this completion is unique to each individual.
In the case where a child this young persists in crying.. there is a reason.. He is not simply being a “brat”, as Mr. Pearl would have you believe. If he’s 10 years old, he will communicate his reason, and if there is crying, it will only be brief (unless he knows this is the best technique to force his preferences) but at two, his cries are his communication method. He is not manipulating you to the point where you need to strike him, or strike fear in his heart.
If the child is perfectly provided for, you have already addressed all his concerns, he is comfortable and not tired, and is simply crying or throwing a fit in effort to get you to give in to his desires, there is a very simple, non-violent solution. Do not withdraw from the child, do not isolate him by setting him in time-out or off on his own, stuck in his room, etc.. Stay with the child, in visual or audible range, while he/she works through the emotions experienced in response to their desire being refused.
Tell the child, while the child is screaming, that you’re there. Tell them that it’s ok for them to be upset, but that their response is not going to cause you to change your mind. AND don’t let it. If you decided, for instance, to not allow your toddler to play with a certain toy, do not relent and give it to her just to stop her crying or screaming. Just remove the object from where she can see it, or where she will be reminded that she cannot have it, and allow her to be upset.
Within a few minutes, sometimes 30, (I have seen the fits go on for this long on days when the tension in the house is particularly thick, or if she is too tired) and stay with the child. That does not mean you sit there and stare at them, aggravating them further. And that also doesn’t mean you continue to plead your case to them, hoping they will grasp your reasoning; they can’t grasp your refusal of the toy in the first place, there is no way they’ll grasp the abstract thought of why you have refused, etc…
Once the episode dwindles, and they become calm, you can remind them of what they cannot have, by simply stating that you have put it away for the day (or more) and that you will bring it back for them to play when you are ready to.
Then be loving, affectionate, and change the subject/focus to something that they CAN do and will enjoy, without a bunch of restrictions. Now is not the time to engage them in some complicated task where they are doomed to fail somehow and end up in another emotional battle with you.
Nearly every researcher agrees that early childhood traumas (i.e. those that happen before the age of six) lie at the root of most long-term depression and anxiety, and many emotional and psychological illnesses. Severe traumas can even alter the very chemistry and physiology of the brain itself! Among mental health professionals, and even some childhood development specialists, there is sometimes a lack of understanding over exactly what constitutes childhood trauma.
In addition to physical, sexual and verbal abuse, this can include anything that causes the child to feel worthless, unlovable, insecure, and even endangered, or as if his only value lies in meeting someone else’s needs. Examples cited in the report include “belittling, degrading or ridiculing a child; making him or her feel unsafe [including threat of abandonment]; failing to express affection, caring and love; neglecting mental health, medical or educational needs.”
The AAP also includes parental divorce in the list of potentially harmful events which can traumatize a child.
Many things on the AAP’s list of factors leading to childhood trauma benefit from further definition. For example, what do “belittling” or “degrading” mean in terms of a child’s development? What actions–or inactions–on the part of parents or child carers would lead little Tommy to feel degraded? Under this category I would include criticism, and even failure to praise him (for accomplishment, for effort as well as just for being a “great kid”), listen to his opinions, and take an interest in his activities or friends. Praise and encouragement are essential to a child’s sense of competence and emotional security, and absence of positive feedback can be extremely damaging to a child’s self-esteem.
Other stressors include parental fighting, domestic violence, and bullying, including failure to curb bullying behavior by siblings or peers. An absence of consistent rules and boundaries also makes a child feel unsafe.
According to the AAP, childhood trauma can also include witnessing community and televised violence. So Tommy may also grow to feel unsafe if he is allowed to watch violent movies or traumatic news footage on TV. In fact violent TV is seen by many researchers as one of the causes of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The important point is that a traumatic event or interaction must be a “repeated pattern” to cause lasting damage. The occasional slap on the wrist probably won’t cause permanent harm; an ongoing pattern of corporeal punishment, or threat of such punishment, almost certainly will.
All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school. Some effects include:
Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more.Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
Trouble regulating emotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.
Perhaps one of you could help articulate my feelings here more eloquently.. Basically, when one reads through the majority of the material the NGJ group publishes, one gets a sense that the instructions are rather black and white, intended to be 100% of the time, consistent, and enforced regardless of the child and their response. Additionally, this group repeatedly berates and condemns any parent that doesn’t either see the value of adherence to their doctrine, or doesn’t do it out of “weakness”. (See below for quotes and source related to this.)
However, when actually questioned, by a supporter and follower no less, these people semi-recant, in effort to save their assumed sanity and correctness. But they spin their words in such a way that leaves the reader with a sense of certainty, yet confusion. It’s as if they’re instructing the child to stop spinning on the merry-go-round (or the parent) while they themselves (NGJ) is the physical force that is making the platter continue to spin.
We recently visited a family who follow your teachings to the “T”. The children are very well behaved. But I wondered if you’ve ever had anyone overdo it?
The children didn’t have the spark of life as much as we remember our children having. We pass out your books and have been around other families with wonderful kids that are more relaxed and happy. We were troubled. Should we be?
Debi Pearl Responds
Yes, we all need to be troubled, and young couples need encouragement and help from the older couples. We have seen families who take what we and others have written and use it like the law. When older, wiser people try to help bring balance, the younger couples do not take their counsel. It grieves us. If children are not bubbling with joy and eager to be a part of life, then something is very wrong. Good training begins and ends with tying strings of fellowship and bonds of good times.
The Letter Continues
We also noted that the mother was swatting their very young children for not meeting possibly unfair expectations. One as young as 13 weeks old was being swatted to stop crying. The mother was trying to teach her one year old to put toys away, but the kid just didn’t understand and it was an intense confrontation. We tried to let them see a balance but what they understood you meant and what we understood you meant were 2 very different things.
It is true that we occasionally hear that young mothers and more seldom, fathers, take what we teach out of context and misuse their children.
The rest of this article strikes a specific chord in me because I have nursed my daughter now for 2.5 years almost. We began this love connection moments (literally) after she was born, and will continue until she is ready to sever. (Anyone who wishes to judge our decisions I encourage you to send me your thoughts and rants, and I will reply in turn with science and instinct.)
You see, most of what these people say is laced with useful, logical, practical information. This is why their ministry and publications are so dangerous. Those that follow them may easily be seduced into believing their precepts and instructions are logical, reasonable, and even Godly. And for the parent who is struggling with their child’s behaviors, this group seems to be just what they’ve been looking for. Can anyone supply me with the definition of a cult… and lend their knowledge of how the dynamics of a cult play out, and who cults prey on?
This is why I hope this site will continue to develop with parallel advice, suggestions, and instruction that encourage the parent to see the value of their children, become aware of the effects of their actions and behaviors (and thought processes), and begin to redefine “discipline” from an assumption that is means to punish, back to the original definition of “instruct, guide, teach, develop”.
First, love your child. Care that the child is well, happy, and relaxed. Training should not be tense, upsetting, hurtful, or pushed. It should be a simple exercise in showing the child what you want him to do. A tiny stimulus to direct the child when they are small is enough. For example, if a 3 month-old nursing baby bites, don’t spank. She does not know she did bad. Just gently pull a hair on her head. She will startle back in momentary discomfort and immediately start nursing again. The tiny bit of discomfort makes the baby relate the biting down with the gentle pulling of the hair. You have not made her obey, you have only conditioned her to respond differently. That is training. If you take a 13 week-old baby who is fussing, and squirming and pop her leg, it will only bring more fussing and crying. The child cannot relate those 2 events. She most likely has a tummy ache that needs some relief, not added pain. Ask God for wisdom. He promises to give to those who simply ask.Deb
Ok, to pick this apart, because that is my mood at the moment… The words of NGJ are italic/red.
“A tiny stimulus to direct the child when they are small is enough. For example, if a 3 month-old nursing baby bites, don’t spank. She does not know she did bad. Just gently pull a hair on her head. She will startle back in momentary discomfort and immediately start nursing again. The tiny bit of discomfort makes the baby relate the biting down with the gentle pulling of the hair. You have not made her obey, you have only conditioned her to respond differently.”
If your infant bites during nursing, bring her closer to the breast. She will immediately let go because the mouth cannot suck properly unless it is at the right angle to the breast. The result is instantaneous, and she is not hurt in any way. Further, because the response from her is a reflex, instead of one that requires her tiny brain make a mental connection, she will not be psychologically harmed. Do not push the baby’s face far enough into your own flesh that you are depriving them of oxygen, even for a second. That is not the reflex I’m talking about. This action might not physically harm them in the second or two that it continues, but it does trigger a psychological response of broken trust. See the LLL site for demonstration and a more technical description..
The child nurses from the mother for nourishment. But the actual act of nursing is much more complex than that. Aside from the release of pleasure hormones from the milk (which is not evil, but something highly valuable for the development of the child), the baby and the mother are developing a bond and connection during nursing that will carry on into the rest of the child’s and mother’s lives. This connection is highly involved with the development of the child’s confidence, self-esteem, sense of value, and the ability to love and be loved.
I will include additional resources here over the next day or two, but in the mean time, for more information on the value of nursing our children, please simply to go LLL and browse the site.
I cannot imagine intentionally causing my child to feel (pain) what her tiny brain cannot properly interpret, but knows is undesired. Especially during a time where she is in bliss and trust, love, and security, such as experienced during breastfeeding. It brings such sorrow to me to even contemplate hurting my child in response to her innocently causing me discomfort (especially during nursing). And at three months old, she isn’t biting you out of mischief or defiance. She isn’t. She doesn’t have the mental capacity to “think” like this at such a young age.
A note to mothers who extend their nurse period into the point of life where the child has language recognition, you can tell your child that he/she is using her teeth and that it isn’t what Mama wants to feel. I caution you with using the term, “You’re hurting Mama”. I learned the hard way what heartache is felt when your child responds to you with the guilt of feeling as though they have done something to “hurt” their mama… I will never tell my child she is Hurting me during nursing again.
But if using words is insufficient, you can still use the same technique of bringing the face/head in closer than is appropriate for allowing the child to nurse properly. They will stop the bite. They will let go, and they will continue then to nurse (if you can tolerate it). Again, you’re not hurting them, you’re not breaching their trust and security, and you’re not forcing them to make a connection mentally. You’re triggering a reflex. Don’t bring them so close they feel as if they might suffocate, and don’t do it for more than a split second. If they don’t let go immediately, take a moment and repeat for another split second. Don’t deprive your child of oxygen even for a moment. Don’t force their face into your flesh far enough that you are depriving them of oxygen. This isn’t what is happening when this technique is used properly.
Mothers, please, please educate yourselves as to the value of breastfeeding, beyond simple nutrition, so that you fully comprehend the bond, and the results of this wonderful gift.
Here is just one quote of warning to those who don’t comply. More to follow –
“If you do not see the wisdom in what I have said, and you reject these concepts, you are not fit to be a parent. I pity your children. They will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience that mine do.” -Michael Pearl Source
…not to touch guns by placing an unloaded and broken gun in the living room where the children could reach it.We carefully watched them. If they touched it, we spanked their hand with a little switch. One to three switchings was sufficient to prevent the little crawlers and toddlers from ever touching a gun.
To me, this is along the same lines as taking your child’s hand and placing it on the hot burner, so that the child will learn never to do it again, unless their parent forces them to.
“You shouldn’t tempt your children,” we are told. I can understand how a wrong attitude on the part of the parent could turn this into a hostile entrapment, leaving the child feeling used. But this can only happen if the parent is hostile. If your intention is to train your child, not just seek opportunity to punish him, all will be well. Training sessions are not unordinary. All events in a child’s life are training. How many times a day do you have to tell a two-year-old “No”? That was a training session. The difference in a happenstance occurrence and one that you premeditate is that the planned “temptation” can be tailor-made and controlled so as to reap the greatest benefit in the shortest period of time with the least amount of effort, and the least stress on the child. The training session should be staged so as to be natural. The child will not know it is staged. In many cases, if the parent is sensitive, an unplanned event can be turned into a training session.
“I can understand how a wrong attitude on the part of the parent could turn this into a hostile entrapment, leaving the child feeling used. But this can only happen if the parent is hostile. If your intention is to train your child, not just seek opportunity to punish him, all will be well.”
You know, I think I may have to seek therapy myself for the trauma I experience as an aftershock of reading through these.. and the very real knowledge that this group isn’t kidding, they really have over 100,000 followers.
I firmly believe in the value of the freedom of speech, therefore I will not advocate having this group silenced. I also believe in the value of intellect and love, and the free distribution of knowledge and education. That is the reason I have created the blog and ask for your contributions – to share education with parents who do struggle and do experience the challenges of raising a child. The education we can share with these parents can build an internal strength and confidence in them that translates into respect for their child, knowing how crucial consistency is with children, and an opportunity for them to see all the wonder and incredible love and good children bring to our society.
Children are not burdens to be managed, as the Peals and others of their similar mentality believe. Our children, though they may cause us to be inconvenienced at times, are not themselves the inconvenience.
The No Greater Joy ministry continues to preach that selfishness is the root of all evil – and that children, even infants are inherently selfish. They are right, infants are self-focused for survival reasons, and children are self-focused because they are developing themselves.
Children quickly learn to think of others when they are shown the value in doing so, by example.
On the other end of the spectrum, these people seem to have the underlying impression that children must be trained, for a number of reasons, one of which (and I’m going out on a limb here because I haven’t found a quote of theirs to back me yet – give me a couple more hours) is so that the amount of “inconvenience” time related to actually having children around, is greatly minimized.
If you teach a child to be terrified of doing anything that resembles behaving like a child they will eventually stop acting like children. Which, in all honesty, does indeed make parenting them a lot less inconvenient. That, to me, is the epitome of selfishness: To not permit the child the opportunity to be a child (because of an inconvenience to the care-giver).
And don’t take my words to an extreme here – I’m not advocating letting children run wild, with no direction, guidance, or boundaries. I suppose I may have to write an article on that subject soon as I can already hear the responses that I believe in lawlessness among the followers of NGJ (and the like) that have already begun targeting me. I will have to attend to this after my little one is asleep – it will require too much of me during the time it takes to compose, which means nothing of me for her during that time, and to me that is not acceptable.
AT LAST!! Something NGR promotes that I can actually agree with!!
Consistency is the key. You cannot allow a child to play with one set of car keys and not pick up other sets he finds lying around. If you want to be assured that he never plays with keys, you must make all keys off limits.
ANNNND THEN.. I don’t agree anymore… (These two quotes are sequential sentences within the same source paragraph)
This is not done by placing the keys beyond his reach, but by placing keys within his reach and then consistently denying him the pleasure of touching them.
As a parent I am not prepared to spend the time it would take to enforce too broad a scope of continual temptation, but there are a few things like books, keys, guns, vases, dishes, etc. that must be placed off limits by leaving a test case within physical limits. If you trained a child not to touch books, and then placed all books out of reach, in time the discipline to not tear books would be forgotten. It is having an opportunity to tear and frequently exercising the will to not do so that confirms in the child the no-tear discipline.
What of baby and toddler books that are cardboard?
And toy sets of keys… phones… dishes…
As a parent I am not prepared to spend the time it would take to enforce too broad a scope of continual temptation…
Ah, thank God, some reprieve for your poor children.
If you have a story or lesson to share about how you successfully “trained” your child, that doesn’t involve cruelty, mind games, or hitting them, please submit.
ot done by placing the keys beyond his reach, but by placing keys within his reach and then consistently denying him the pleasure of touching them.
The primary author and dominant force behind the No Greater Joy crew is Michael Pearl.
He tells of a story of some child in his care (he is vague, but if you read this entire post, you get the feeling it’s not his own child, nor his offspring’s child) that he controls with his methods – to what he believes is in her benefit, and his.
A few excerpts… starting with him not only admitting that he’s a very large man (that is intimidating to young children, unless the adult compensates by bringing themselves down to the shorter level of the child), but he also goes a step farther to brag a bit about his size.
The following quote is taken in portions from the original; there is more said between some of these paragraphs, and I encourage you to read the source article yourself.
On the visit before this welcomed intrusion, Amy ran in and out of the back door about ten times. The frequency, along with the cold air, became annoying. As she started out again, I commanded, “No, Amy, do not go out again.” She continued to open the door and push by me. I applied a little resistance to the door as I repeated the command. She exerted all her force to open the door. Now at this point I could have forced the door shut. At six-foot-four and 240 pounds, all of it pure, aged muscle, I was quite capable of shutting the door. But to do so would not have taught her obedience, quite the opposite. It would have taught her that she could do anything that does not meet with overpowering physical resistance. Forced to comply, she would not have practiced self-control. For the human will to function, circumstances must permit choice. So I allowed her to choose. She forced the door against the little resistance I offered and continued into the sunroom. One more door stood between her and the judgment seat. To make sure she understood, I gave one more command, “Amy, do not go outside.” As she opened the outside door, I took off my belt and surprised my little butterfly with one swat across the calves. She shut the door and looked at me with shock and anger. Her scream was not just of pain, but of defiance.
Now if I had shoved her into the house and left it at that, she would still have failed to learn her lesson. Her will was not yet surrendered. The defiant scream testified that she was still in a resistant state of mind. She was protesting interference with her self-will. She must be caused to recognize the supremacy of government. Her soul depends on it. So I commanded, “Amy, stop crying.” She screamed louder, so I gave her another forceful lick on the legs. She again screamed her defiance.
Here I was with a screaming, defiant two-year-old standing there testing her strength of resolve against mine. I have 53 years of resolve, and it gets calmer every day. Again I gave her one lick on the legs and commanded, “Stop crying, now.” She dried it up like an Arizona wind, then turned and voluntarily walked back into the living room. She was sniffling, but the defiance was all gone. She ran to a corner to sort out her feelings and I left her alone, as did everyone else
In less than five minutes, as I was walking through the house for some other purpose, a little curly headed, blond butterfly flitted across the room and lunged into my arms. Her smile was genuine and her greeting was spontaneous. The former confrontation had not left her feeling isolated. Her spirit was free.
Let’s discuss this article/story in a few different segments:
Now at this point I could have forced the door shut. At six-foot-four and 240 pounds, all of it pure, aged muscle, I was quite capable of shutting the door.
Perhaps he has a need for his readers to think of him as superior in physique. There are pictures of him on his site, but here he seems to need to remind us that he is well built and not physically sloppy, but rather well built. This is a sign of insecurity that he needs to describe himself in such a manner. If he had simply stated his height and weight, that would have been sufficient to get the point across, that point being that he’s intimidating to children especially, but he had to take it one step further; he had to mention that it’s all pure, aged muscle. And further, he goes on to say that he was quite capable of shutting the door. The child in this story is two. Most three year old children would have that same ability, when in a physical power struggle with a two year old.
One day, when my daughter was about 17 months old she started whacking/batting at me while I changed her diaper. So, after telling her to stop and not getting the response I wanted, I swatted her upper thigh with my open hand – knee jerk response. I didn’t connect with enough force to even slightly notice, but none the less, in her eyes, I hit her. In fact, she shouted at me, “Mama don’t hit me”, in the very same tone I had just told her to stop batting/hitting at me.
I had just told her to not hit me.
Then, I did to her exactly what I told her not to do to me.
Do you see the problem here…
Violence creates violence.
And punishment/discipline (spanking) is retaliation.
Years later, I came to realize something in addition to the obvious here (hopefully obvious). Somewhere along the way, an awareness came and I realized how it feels to “be told”. My daughter told me once, “ALL I HEAR is you TELLING TELLING TELLING.. but what you’re saying, I have no clue!” In our home, we use the word “listen” to mean, “my heart wants to be heard, please let your heart hear”. Listening is not compliance or expectation.
Some time around this event, I learned how to communicate my needs and preferences, and stop the “telling”.
If we wish to be heard and treated with respect, then we must first provide respect to others and when we speak to others, speak with them, not at them.
If you have found this page, chances are you are aware of No Greater Joy Ministries.
This organization has a perspective on raising and caring for children that seems to be positive and upright, and in all fairness, they teach and discuss many valid points of concern, and do indeed offer sound advice on a few items. The problem is that in the same breath they preach love, they preach pain and abuse of children, and they’re convinced they’re right and helpful.
Parenting isn’t easy. Being a child isn’t easy.
Our hope is you will find encouragement as well as alternative methods of working with children, that don’t include intentionally inflicting pain.
And to those who contribute, please keep in mind that simply bashing the organizations and people who follow the teachings of No Greater Joy Ministries, and others like them, is only useful in settling your own disgust. Tools, assistance in gaining perspective, and support is what will be useful for those who do and/or have turned to groups like these, and are trying to repair the damage done, or prevent it in the first place.
Children are not born evil, as some might teach. The baby is incapable of cognitive thought at this level. And though humans, by nature, are self focused, until they learn and develop to the point where they are self sufficient (in the beginning, this self-focus helps them survive), children are not inherently disobedient, malicious brats, nor are they hell bent on making life difficult for you while good for them. They are in fact driven by instinct, however, to satisfy their needs emotionally and physically. This is true for the adult as much as the child. It is our job as parents to satisfy those needs before they go unmet, and it is our job to guide and lead by example, so that our children will grow up to be intelligent, thoughtful, respectful, and non-self centered but empathetic adults, capable of love and harmony.